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New Zealand tightens work visa rules to reduce partner and child dependents

New Zealand has introduced further restrictions on work visa rules, targeting specific categories of Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) holders.

According to an announcement on the Immigration New Zealand website the new regulations, individuals holding AEWVs in jobs classified at levels 4 and 5 by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), and without a pathway to residency, can no longer sponsor work, visitor, or student visa applications for their partners and dependent children.

This change is part of a broader suite of amendments to the AEWV scheme introduced earlier this year, reverting the settings to those similar to the previous Essential Skills Work Visa.

What you should know

The government has clarified that partners and dependent children of AEWV holders can still apply independently for New Zealand visas, such as AEWV or international student visas, provided they meet the necessary requirements.

  • The new rules which already took effect on June 26, will not affect:
  • Individuals already holding visas as partners or dependent children.
  • AEWV holders in ANZSCO level 4 and 5 roles with a pathway to residency, such as those under the Green List or sector agreements with residence pathways.
  • Individuals earning at least 1.5 times the average salary threshold for the Skilled Migrant Category.

This latest move follows the New Zealand government’s implementation of stricter work visa rules, citing unsustainable migration as a primary concern. Earlier, on April 7, additional changes were introduced, including a language requirement for foreigners applying for low-skilled jobs under ANZSCO levels 4 and 5.

The criterion is aimed at ensuring foreign workers better understand their rights and can effectively address potential issues with their employers.

Moreover, the new rules have reduced the maximum stay for low-skilled workers from five years to three years and have set minimum skill and work experience requirements for most roles.

What we know

Despite these tighter restrictions, New Zealand continues to aim at attracting and retaining highly skilled foreign workers, especially in sectors facing shortages, such as secondary education.

Official statistics reveal that over one million people entered New Zealand in the first three months of 2024. The majority of these arrivals were on visitor visas (602,404), followed by Australians (274,417), residents (158,867), and workers (51,338).

Also on Sunday, April 7, the New Zealand government unveiled a series of changes to its employment visa program, aimed at attracting more skilled workers and fostering a sustainable immigration framework.

Immigration Minister Erica Stanford emphasized the need for a more intelligent immigration system that not only regulates net migration but also adapts to the evolving economic landscape.

She outlined the objectives of the reforms, focusing on attracting top talent, revitalizing international education, ensuring self-sufficiency and sustainability, and improving risk management.

Deborah Dan-Awoh

Deborah Dan-Awoh

Deborah Dan-Awoh is a seasoned lifestyle analyst with a knack for storytelling. The focus of her work covers people, money and culture as it relates with business and economy. When she’s not keeping tabs on the latest trends in lifestyle and finance- Deborah enjoys networking with industry experts to gain insight into major markets as it affects the populace

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