Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Partner work visa changes delayed

Changes to partner work visas that were set to come into effect in December 2022 have been deferred to April 2023, Immigration Minister, Michael Wood, announced today.

“Our Government wants to provide greater certainty for migrant partners of their ability to work in New Zealand in high skilled roles, and we want to streamline this process,” said Minister Wood.

“We will be looking at some adjustments to the way the proposed Rebalance partner work rights changes will be implemented to reflect some of the feedback received from stakeholders, especially around protections for vulnerable individuals.

“It is important we take the time to consider this feedback and make any necessary adjustments before the changes to the partner work visas can take effect.”

In the meantime, partners of migrants holding a work visa will continue to have open work rights in New Zealand. Any subsequent changes will only apply to new visas issued after the implementation date, said Mr Wood.

“Our Government’s immigration rebalance was designed specifically to address the immediate skill shortages in New Zealand, simplifying the settings and streamlining application processes for businesses, while ensuring wages and working conditions are improved for everyone.”

“A key feature of the rebalance is a focus on building the skills that New Zealand needs, as opposed to the old system which had a focus on large volumes of low wage labour in some sectors. This is a shift but it will be better for the New Zealand economy, and it will reduce the unacceptable levels of migrant exploitation that the old settings facilitated.”

The number of partners of temporary migrant workers coming to New Zealand grew significantly in the years prior to COVID-19, as did temporary migrant worker numbers. While partners of temporary migrant workers work in a variety of roles across New Zealand, they tend to be concentrated in lower-paying sectors, Mr Wood said.

“Given the aims of the rebalance, it is important that we ensure the integrity of the system by recruiting for genuine skill shortages for both the primary applicant and their partners.”

“Once I have received further advice, I will provide further details in February 2023,” he said.

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