As many would already be aware, New Zealand's immigration policies underwent significant changes affecting the work conditions of partners of migrant workers.
From May 31, 2023, individuals who successfully apply for a Partner of a Worker Work Visa are finding themselves subject to new conditions, which aim to streamline the employment criteria for these visa holders and ensure alignment with New Zealand's labour market needs.
Key Changes to Partner of a Worker Work Visa
1. Accredited Employer Requirement
One of the primary changes is that partners of migrant workers, applying for the Partner of a Worker Work Visa on or after May 31, 2023, are limited to working for accredited employers. This means they can only work for employers who have been accredited by Immigration New Zealand (INZ). To determine if an employer is accredited, applicants can check the INZ website where a list of accredited employers has been published.
2. No Self-Employment
Under the new conditions, partners of migrant workers cannot engage in self-employment while holding this visa. They are restricted to working as employees for accredited employers.
3. Median Wage Threshold
Partners working in roles not covered by uncapped sector agreements must be paid at least the median wage in effect at the time they receive their visa or job offer, whichever is later. The current median wage is NZD $29.66. If the role is covered by an uncapped sector agreement, they must be paid at least the relevant wage threshold, and they will not be subject to a stand-down period.
4. Flexibility for Partners
Partners of migrant workers do not need a job offer to apply for this visa, and their employers do not need to complete a Job Check. Additionally, when granted the visa, partners can change employers without applying for a Variation of Conditions. There is no minimum number of hours that partners need to work.
5. Existing Visa Holders
For individuals who are already employed, they must ensure that their current employment meets the new visa conditions when the visa takes effect. Those who are not currently employed should ensure that any future job offer aligns with the new conditions.
There are exceptions to these conditions for partners of Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) or Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV) holders who meet the following criteria:
- Partners of migrants paid at least twice the median wage.
- Partners of migrants working in roles on the Green List.
Even if partners did not initially meet these requirements when they received their visa, they can become eligible through a pay increase or by their role being added to the Green List. Evidence of eligibility will be necessary when applying for a Partner of a Worker Work Visa or through a Variation of Conditions request.
7. Ineligibility for Some Visa Holders
Certain AEWV holders who are covered by a sector agreement and paid below the median wage are not eligible to support a partner work visa. Similarly, ESWV holders paid below the median wage (or lower-skilled if the visa application was made before July 27, 2020) cannot support a partner work visa. However, if they receive a pay rise that brings their income to at least the median wage, they may become eligible to support their partner's work visa.
These changes to the Partner of a Worker Work Visa are aimed at ensuring that partners of migrant workers contribute effectively to New Zealand's labour market and are protected under fair working conditions.
It is essential for both current and prospective visa holders to be aware of these new requirements and exceptions to ensure they meet the necessary criteria for employment in New Zealand.
These changes will not affect current work visa conditions or individuals who applied for their visa before May 31, 2023. Additionally, there are no changes to visa conditions for partners of New Zealand citizens or partners of those holding other work visas, such as a Post Study Work Visa.
If you are affected by any of the above, or would like to discuss partnership visas, please contact our Immigration Specialist, Hetish Lochan. Hetish is available on 03 441 2743 or at email@example.com.