New Zealand has recently implemented revised conditions for work visas pertaining to individuals who wish to accompany or visit their partners holding an Accredited Employer Work Visa or Essential Skills Work Visa.
The new regulations which come into effect from May 31, 2023, aim to rebalance the immigration system to support a higher-productivity, higher-wage economy. However, it is important to note that these changes will not impact the work visas currently held by partners.
What is a Partner of a Worker Work Visa?
The Partner of a Worker work visa in New Zealand allows you to work if you have a partner who is a New Zealand citizen or resident. If you’ve been living with your spouse for more than 12 months, you can stay in New Zealand for two years on this visa.
- Length of stay: Same duration as your partner’s work visa
- Cost: From NZD $700
- Processing time: 90% within 49 days
New Work Conditions for Partners
The changes to work visa conditions only apply to new applications and will not impact the conditions of existing work visas or individuals who apply before May 31, 2023.
It is important to understand that these modifications only apply to partners of individuals with an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) or an Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV), and do not apply to partners of individuals with other types of work visas, such as the Post Study Work Visa.
Eligibility and Information on Partner of a Worker Work Visa
The Partner of a Worker Work Visa is obtainable for a fee of NZD 700 (approximately Rs 36,330) and typically takes an average of 49 days to process.
There are exceptions for migrants who did not meet the requirements at the time of obtaining their visa but have since met them through a pay increase or having their role added to the Green List.
To apply for the Partner of a Worker Work Visa, applicants need to provide evidence of eligibility along with the application or through a Variation of Conditions request.
Once granted, this visa allows the applicant to:
- Accompany their partner to New Zealand.
- Work within the country.
- Pursue studies for a period of up to 3 months.
One of the noteworthy aspects of this visa is that partners are not required to possess a job offer, and employers are not obligated to complete a job check. Furthermore, partners who hold this visa can switch employers without the need to apply for a Variation of Conditions. There is no minimum number of hours that partners need to work.
Work Conditions for Partners of Migrant Workers
Effective from May 31, 2023, partners who successfully apply for the Partner of a Worker Work Visa may be subject to new work conditions, including:
- Restricted employment solely with an Accredited Employer.
- Inability to work in roles covered by capped sector agreements.
- The requirement to receive payment at least equal to the median wage in effect at the time of visa issuance or when a job offer is received, whichever is later if working in a role not covered by a sector agreement.
- Obligation to receive payment at least equal to the relevant wage threshold for roles covered by an uncapped sector agreement. Additionally, partners in this category will not be subject to a stand-down period.
Exceptions for Partners of Highly-Paid and Green List Workers
Certain partners of Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) or Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV) holders will continue to be eligible for a work visa allowing them to work in any occupation for any employer within New Zealand, without the need to meet a median wage threshold. These exceptions include partners of:
- Migrants who earn at least twice the median wage.
- Migrants employed in a role included in the Green List.
It is important to note that exceptions are also applicable to migrants who did not meet the specified requirements when they initially received their visa but have subsequently fulfilled them through a pay increase or by having their role added to the Green List.
Evidence of eligibility will be required during the application process for the Partner of a Worker Work Visa or through a Variation of Conditions request.
Ineligibility of Some AEWV and ESWV Holders
AEWV holders covered by a sector agreement and paid below the median wage are ineligible to support a partner work visa. Similarly, ESWV holders who earn below the median wage (or lower skilled if the visa application was submitted before July 27, 2020) are also unable to support a partner work visa.
However, if these visa holders receive a pay rise that brings their earnings to at least the median wage, they may become eligible to support their partner’s work visa.
It is important to note that a new work visa application is not required to support a partner unless the holder wishes to assess eligibility for an extended work visa based on the new salary.
This is due to the fact that partners generally receive a visa for the same duration as their supporting partner’s work visa.
Partners of temporary workers who are ineligible for a work visa can explore alternative visa options to determine if they are eligible to apply independently. Alternatively, partners who do not intend to work can apply for a Visitor Visa.
Ineligible Visa Holders for Supporting Family Visas
If an individual holds any of the following visas, they are unable to support a work, visitor, or student visa for their partner or dependent child:
- Fishing Crew work visa.
- Working holiday visa.
- Limited visa under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) or Supplementary Seasonal Employer (SSE) schemes.
- Silver Fern Job Search visa.
- Domestic Staff of a Diplomat work visa.
In summary, New Zealand’s recent revisions to partner work visas aim to rebalance the immigration system and support a higher-wage economy. The changes introduce new work conditions for partners while maintaining exceptions for highly paid and Green List workers. These reforms reflect the government’s commitment to creating a productive and prosperous environment for migrants and the local workforce.
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