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Bringing overseas talent into New Zealand? Visa rules set to change

Tax Alert - August 2022

Local businesses have only a few short months to align their practices to the new rules on supporting Work Visas for overseas talents. Hiring from overseas during a pandemic with a newly introduced visa framework has added extra time to the relocation process for migrant workers. Read on to see if your business is ready.

The Work Visa and Resident Visa requirements for New Zealand have always been complex and during the past two COVID-19 impacted years, they became much worse: delays in multiple categories for residency and limited opportunities to bring overseas talents to New Zealand constantly hit the headlines. The Government decided to review and re-work the rules in place for the immigration system well before 2020, but we are only now seeing the changes implemented for both Work Visa and Resident Visa.

The driving force behind the changes is to attract high-skilled migrants and to assist some sectors to transition to productive and resilient ways of operating while reducing the dependence on lower-skilled migrant workers.

The new streamlined Accredited Employer Work Visa program has been fully up and running from the beginning of July, requiring employers who are hiring work visa holders or talents from overseas to become accredited. Maintaining such accreditation includes commitments such as the employer providing settlement support information and allowing the visa holders to complete Employment New Zealand training modules during working hours.

The introduction of the step “Job Check” is to maintain the labour market testing requirements and avoid the roles that can be filled by locals being offered to overseas talent. A Green List was introduced for construction, engineering, trade, health and ICT sectors - the traditionally skill shortage sectors - and along with this group, roles offering twice the median salary or higher (NZ$55.52 per hour) are exempted from providing recruitment evidence in the Job Check stage.

During 2023 more businesses in the market will need the accreditation as all employers must be accredited to employ any migrant, including those with open work rights. This shift in policy may lead to a significant increase in small and medium businesses holding accreditation and wanting to maintain the accreditation status.

The most commonly utilised resident visa category for skilled workers, the Skilled Migrant Category, is about to be re-introduced after 27 months since the expression of interest selection was suspended due to Covid.

Under the new Accredited Employer Work Visa program, pathways for residency are in place for those whose salaries are over twice the median salary and will be in place for Green List occupation visa holders from later this year.

Business visitors are welcomed back from the end of July, including those who do not hold a visa waiver country passport. The market is witnessing a bounce back for activities, conferences and business growth as the border finally fully opens up, reconnecting New Zealand with the rest of the world. This also puts an end to the Border Exemption and Critical Purpose Visa, the two-step pathway which was required to bring overseas talents into New Zealand under the COVID-19-impacted border policy, saving businesses time and money, and streamlining the process for bringing specialist or senior professionals to New Zealand for these activities.

The changes that have been implemented under this new program are certainly adding a layer of complexity and perpetuating a sense of uncertainty around recruitment planning and global mobility for New Zealand businesses. We are here to assist with tailored advice for navigating the program requirements and formulating procedures for businesses. The New Zealand immigration team will continue to closely monitor Immigration New Zealand announcements in this space and keep clients abreast of developments and changes. Please contact the following Deloitte team members with any questions or queries regarding the impact of the immigration changes on your workforce.

Sasha Grimm Tel: +61 2 9322 3178 Email:

Georgina Haines Tel: +61 2 9322 5629 Email:

Zoe Han Tel: +64 9 303 0716 Email:

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