Immigration Changes Overview
There have been many changes in the immigration space in recent months. This article is a brief overview of the key changes.
Post Study Work Visa (“PSWV”)
The PSWV allows you to stay and work in New Zealand for up to 3 years if you have studied in New Zealand.
Changes to the PSWV settings came into effect from 7 September 2022 and apply to you if you applied for a student visa after 11 May 2022.
These changes include:
- Visa length being dependent on your qualification;
- Visa conditions being dependent on your qualification;
- Only being able to be apply for a Post Study Work Visa once; and
- Showing you have $5,000 of available funds.
If you have a Master’s or doctoral degree level, your PSWV will be three years.
If you have a qualification at degree level 7 or 8, the length of your PSWV will match the time you have spent studying fulltime in New Zealand, and you can consecutively complete qualifications for longer visa length.
If you have a qualification which is non-degree level 7 or below, the length of your PSWV will match the time you have spent studying fulltime in New Zealand.
If you have a qualification at degree level 7 and above, your PSWV will allow you to work in any occupation, for any employer, in New Zealand.
If you have a qualification which is non-degree level 7 or below, your PSWV will allow you to work in a role relating to your qualification and your qualification must be on the list of Qualifications Eligible for a Post Study Work Visa.
Active Plus Investor Visa
The Active Investor Plus Visa aims to attract experienced and high-value investors to directly invest in high value and growth investment opportunities in New Zealand.
It is a residence class visa, and an investor can apply for permanent residence after 4 years of keeping funds in New Zealand.
An investor can include a partner, and dependent children aged 24 and under, in their visa application
An investor must:
- Have acquired investment funds lawfully;
- Invest a total of between NZ $5 million and NZ $15 million in acceptable investments (how much is dependent on what is invested in) in New Zealand for a minimum of 48 months;
- Spend 117 days in New Zealand in that 48 month period; and
- Be able to speak English to at least Level 5 of the International English Language Testing System.
Acceptable investments will have different weighting:
- Direct investments into businesses will have the highest weighting (3x);
- Investments into managed funds such as private equity or venture capital funds will weighted at 2x;
- Investment into listed equities and philanthropy will be weighted 1x (and are both capped at 50% of the NZ $15 million).
The weighting in total must be NZD $15 million (for example, NZD $2.5 million in direct investments (which is 3x), NZD $2.5 million of managed funds (which is 2x) and NZD $2.5 million of listed equities (which is 1x), would have a total weighting of NZD $15 million).
Property is not an acceptable investment, however it can be 20% or less of an exchange traded fund or managed fund’s total assets.
Parent Resident Visa (“PRV”)
The PRV restarted on 12 October 2022. It is a residence class visa to allow New Zealand citizens and residents to bring their parents to New Zealand.
Number of visas
The number of visas that can be granted each year has increased from 1,000 to 2,500.
For a Parent Resident Visa, any New Zealand resident and citizen who has lived here for at least 3 years can sponsor their parent’s/s’ application for residence if they meet the sponsorship criteria. A parent can be sponsored for the Parent Resident Visa by:
- their adult New Zealand citizen or resident child
- jointly by their adult child and their partner (if they have been living together for at least 12 months), or
- jointly by their adult child and another adult child of a parent included in the application.
The income threshold required for sponsors has also been lowered, and the lower income threshold applies to EOIs before and after 12 October 2022. A sponsor now must earn 1.5 times the New Zealand median wage (before it was twice the median wage). This increases by half the median wage for each joint sponsor or additional parent.
The median wage is currently $27.76 per hour ($57,740.80 per year), however it will increase to $29.66 per hour ($61,692.80 per year) on 27 February 2023.
Expressions of interest (“EOIs”)
Selections for EOIs were paused in 2016, so there could be a review of the Parent Category settings. It was not restarted in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
INZ will restart selections of EOIs from the current queue from 14 November 2022. After that, EOIs will be selected in sufficient numbers to meet the annual limit.
EOIs before 12 October 2022
EOIs will be selected in date order. The first selection will be on 14 November 2022 and after that will be selected in sufficient numbers to meet the annual limit.
INZ estimate this will take 3 or 4 years to complete.
EOIs after 12 October 2022
Any EOIs after 12 October 2022 will be selected by ballot, with the first selection in August 2023.
EOIs that have not been selected from the ballot expire after 2 years.
500 visas will be available each year for EOIs selected by ballot.
Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa (“SMCRV”)
Selections for EOIs under the Skilled Migrant Category were suspended in March 2020 and will resume on 9 November 2022.
In the selection on 9 November 2022 (1st selection), INZ will select all EOIs with at least 160 points.
The 2nd selection will be on 18 January 2023, and INZ will select all EOIs with at least 180 points. From 18 January 2023, EOIs must have at least 180 points to be selected.
EOIs before 9 May 2022 that are not selected on 9 November 2022 will expire. They will not be reselected.
In May 2021, the Government stated that it will turn down the tap on its previous immigration settings to reduce New Zealand’s reliance on “lower-skilled migrants”, and that would include reviewing the Skilled Migrant Category.
The Productivity Commission undertook an inquiry into on changes to New Zealand immigration policy and its final report was presented to the government.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is now consulting on proposed changes to the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa, so there may be future changes to the category.
The proposed changes include:
- A new points system;
- All applicants must have a job or job offer and be paid at least the median wage;
- A higher income requirement for some roles, including in retail and hospitality, where employers should be drawing down on the domestic labour market.
Accredited Employer Work Visa (“AEWV”)
There have been changes to the AEWV, which opened to applications on 4 July 2022.
Immigration New Zealand has changed the immigration instructions in relation to chefs. Chefs are no longer required to have a certificate at NZQF Level 4 or higher, which includes the credit and knowledge requirements of a New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4), or comparable overseas qualification.
For an AEWV remuneration must be at or above the median wage if not an occupation listed as exempt.
The median wage is currently $27.76 an hour. It will increase to $29.66 on 27 February 2023.
Exemptions to the median wage threshold for specific occupations
If the occupation is listed as exempt, it is exempt from the median wage threshold (“median wage exemption”).
Until April 2023, remuneration can be $25.00 per hour or above where it is an occupation listed as exempt as part of the:
- Construction and Infrastructure sector, or
- Tourism and Hospitality sector.
Until April 2023, remuneration can be $25.39 per hour or above where it is an occupation listed as exempt as part of the Care Workforce sector.
In April 2023, the median wage exemption will increase to $28.18 per hour (which is 95% of the new median wage).
In April 2024, the median wage exemption will end. Therefore, remuneration for an occupation listed as exempt must be at or above the median wage from April 2024.
Open Work Partner Work Visa
Of An AEWV Holder
From December 2022, an AEWV holder whose occupation is not on the Green List or who is not earning at least twice the median wage will not be eligible to support a partner work visa application. This work visa has open work rights, so a partner can work in any occupation, for any employer, in New Zealand. The AEWV holder will, however, be able to support a visitor visa for their partner.
Of A Student Visa Holder
A partner of a student (who started studying before 7 September 2022) can apply for an open work visa.
A partner of a student (who started studying after 7 September 2022) can apply for an open work visa if their partner is studying:
- any master’s or doctoral degree; or
- a level 7 or 8 qualification on:
- the Green List; or
- the Qualifications Eligible for a Post-Study Work Visa list.
Please note that this article not a substitute for legal advice and you should contact your lawyer about your specific situation. Please feel free to contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 03 348 8480.
18 October 2022