Important Changes to the Partner of Worker Work Visas commencing on 31 May 2023
From 31 May 2023, applicants for a Partner of Worker Work visa will be required to:
- Work for an Accredited employer, and;
- Be paid at least the median wage (currently NZD29.66 per hour).
There are limited exceptions to the above requirements.
These changes are part of the Government’s work to rebalance the immigration system towards a higher-productivity, higher-wage economy whilst encouraging employers to use New Zealand labour first and reduce reliance on migrants for lower-skilled, lower-paid roles.
Work Conditions for Partners of Migrant Worker Visa Holders
Successful applicants for a Partner of a Work Visa on or after 31 May 2023 will be subject to the following conditions unless exempted:
- They can only work for an Accredited Employer.
- They cannot work in roles covered by capped Sector Agreements.
- If working in a role not covered by a Sector Agreement, they must be paid at least the median wage in effect at the time they receive their visa, or when they receive a job offer, whichever is later. The median wage is currently NZD29.66 per hour.
- If working in a role covered by an uncapped Sector Agreement, they must be paid at least the relevant wage threshold in place. They will not be subject to a stand-down period.
Partners do not require to have a job offer to apply for this visa, and employers do not need to complete a Job Check.
After grant of the visa, partners can change Accredited Employers without applying for a Variation of Conditions and there is no minimum number of hours that partners need to work.
Any subsequent changes to the employer’s accreditation, the median wage and Sector Agreements will not impact the visa holder while they remain in the same employment.
From 31 May 2023, a list of accredited employers will be published on the INZ website for partners to check to ensure they meet the conditions of their visa.
These changes will not affect current work visa conditions or people who apply before 31 May 2023.
Partners of AEWV or ESWV holders may continue to be eligible for a Partner of a Worker Work visa which allows them to work for any employer in New Zealand with no median wage threshold if the AEWV or ESWV holder is:
- A person who is paid at least twice the median wage; or
- A person who is working in a role on the Green List.
AEWV and ESWV Holders That Cannot Support A Partner on a Work Visa
AEWV and ESWV holders who are covered by any Sector Agreement and paid below the median wage are not eligible to support a partner. ESWV holders paid below the median wage (or lower skilled if the visa application was made before 27 July 2020) are also not eligible to support a partner.
Should the AEWV or ESWV holder receive a pay rise which is at least the median wage then they may be able to support their partner for a work visa. Evidence of eligibility will be needed as part of the Partner of a Worker Work Visa application.
Whilst there may appear to be some merit to these changes, there are likely to be a few hurdles along the way with such a myopic ruling.
First, we do wonder how the department will police these conditions given the lack of resources available.
Second, the family dynamic may inadvertently be under pressure as spouses are forced to seek employment with accredited employers only. This in turn limits opportunities and their freedom to seek casual work thereby placing pressure on the primary work visa holder.
Third, will the recent issues with online applications become problematic with a potential influx of accreditation applications? And how will the department manage this?
As we keep our finger on the pulse, you can expect to hear our thoughts on how these changes will pan out.
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