Tuesday, July 16, 2024

UK/NZ Working Holiday Scheme to land ahead of schedule

The new three-year NZ UK Working Holiday Visas (WHV) will be delivered earlier than expected to support businesses through global labour shortages, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

From July, the improved WHV, successfully negotiated alongside the NZ UK Free trade Agreement last year, will give more UK travellers open work rights in New Zealand for longer.

“Securing an implementation date for this new scheme sooner than expected means those who are already in country will now be eligible to remain here longer, adding to the pool of labour available to businesses,” Mr Hipkins said.

“The 4,200 visa holders from the UK currently in New Zealand will now be able to extend their right to remain and work here for at least a year longer.”

The new conditions will also see the age of eligibility increase from 30 to 35 years.

The new conditions of the scheme are reciprocal, meaning New Zealanders will have the same rights within the UK.

“I can say from personal experience a little while ago, that for many Kiwis the ‘OE’ is an invaluable opportunity to head away for a little adventure, gain some broader work experience and build on skills which can then be brought back to New Zealand,” Mr Hipkins said.

“The changes to the scheme reflect the depth of our relationship with the United Kingdom.

“They are one of our closest partners, and we share a long standing relationship based on shared history, strong people to people links, and common values and interests.

“The improvements to this scheme are testament to this; it is great to provide young people in both our countries with more opportunities to work and live alongside one another,” he said.

The UK will move to its enhanced scheme from 29 June 2023, and New Zealand’s will come into force from 1 July 2023.

The Government revealed details of the enhanced scheme in July 2022, promising to deliver implementation by no later than end of 2024.  

Currently, the UK Working Holiday Scheme (WHS) allows for young citizens of the UK aged between 18-30 to travel to and stay in New Zealand for up to 23 months, and work for up to 12 months.

The Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) allows for young citizens of New Zealand aged between 18-30 to live and work in the UK for up to two years.

These schemes fall under a reciprocal agreement between the UK and New Zealand Governments.

In July 2022, the UK and NZ Governments agreed to the following changes:

  • An extension of five years to the age of eligibility for both schemes from 30 to 35 years.
  • An extension of the maximum period of time individuals can stay in New Zealand and the UK respectively, from two years (or 23 months in the case of New Zealand) to three years.
  • An extension to the length of time individuals can work, allowing those in the UK and New Zealand respectively to work for the full duration of their three-year stay.
  • New Zealand will re-establish an annual cap for the UK WHS to be set at 15,000 visas per year – this is higher than the volume of UK WHS visas we normally grant, allowing for interest and growth in the scheme.

To help ease the transition to the new enhanced scheme, current eligible Youth Mobility and Working Holiday visa holders will be able to apply for an extension from 29 June in the UK and 1 July in NZ, enabling them to stay in either the UK or New Zealand for three years and work for the remainder of their stay.

British nationals seeking to stay in New Zealand for 24 months or longer will need to supply character and health certificates.

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