The Government has recently announced changes to New Zealand’s immigration settings which will result in New Zealand’s borders opening to the free flow of non-New Zealand citizens and residents for the first time since the borders were closed on the 19th of March 2020. The border re-openings are happening gradually over the first half of this year but they will be fully open to all international visitors by the 1st of August 2022.
The Government has also announced a variety of updated visa requirements.
The Border Opening Timeline
Pacific Island Forum Countries
From 16 May, members of the Pacific Island Forum Countries became eligible to apply for a New Zealand visitor visa.
From 4 July, all work visa categories are to be re-opened, including the Accredited Employer Work Visa. People holding work visas will be able to enter New Zealand after 4 July 2022.
Student and Visitor Visas
From 31 July 2022, all student and visitor visa applications will open.
Work To Residency Pathways
On the 4th of July 2022 all work visa categories will open for applications.
A ‘Green List’ has been introduced as a way to streamline these applications with the anticipated rush. This Green List streamlines and simplifies the process for employers to hire migrant workers.
The first benefit of this list is that it has two pathways to residency. The first of these pathways is a Fast Track to Residency category that opens on September 2022. The second is a Work to rRsidency pathway which will require workers to work for two years on the work visa before applying for residency. These pathways are in line with the current 2021 Residency Visa that has been assisting Immigration New Zealand to process residency applications.
This Green List has an age restriction - the principal applicant will need to be under the age of 56 years at the time of applying.
Another benefit of the Green List is the need for advertising the job is waived if a role is featured on the list. To be eligible for the Green List application you must meet all of the minimum requirements for the role.
More information about these changes can be found: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/tools-and-information/work-and-employment/green-list-occupations
Get Prepared Now, The Wait Times Are Likely To Increase
Given the tight turn around in both the border’s reopening and the applications being accepted, there will be long wait times to get a visa. We recommend starting the application process soon as possible. Even though the applications only open on 4 July you are still able to prepare for these to open.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team at PRLaw if you need help applying for the Visa or understanding the process.