Pacific Legal recently hosted a meeting with Immigration New Zealand’s relationship managers Rob Perry and Josh Kennedy at our office. We are very grateful for their time and insights. We’ve checked the following key points with them:


 Full steam ahead on employer visa changes

  • The Minister is considering the immigration priorities for 2021.   Progressing the government’s temporary work visa reforms and collapsing 6 different categories into one employer supported category is a key current priority.  Key waypoints, if agreed would include a cut-off of current accreditations as early as May with opening of new accreditations in October 2021. These dates could shift but change is definitely imminent.
  • There is a proposal to process new accreditations as first in queue in the new system in about September but not to have an automatic transition for those holding current accreditation.  This means that accredited employers should be progressing pending work applications now.
  • If agreed (subject to Ministerial approval) the equivalent of a work to residence category will now only be available for individuals with income twice the median wage, currently $106,000. The only other relevant pathway will be skilled migrant.

Contact us now for more details on how we can help.

 Future accreditation

  • The new standard accreditation could be as short as 15 minutes with everything being very straight forward and ticking all the boxes. It is a system activity (automatic decision making)
  • Standard accreditation will be up for employers with to 5 non resident employees. The next level is for those with 6 and over, then the labour hire companies and franchisees.
  • Accreditation would be offered for 12 months on first application and then 24 months.
  • The new system will apparently talk to around 22 other systems. INZ is not sure of the exact IT specifications yet.

Contact us now for more details on how we can help.

 Skilled migrant changes

  • Skilled migrant residence will be reviewed during the term of the government.
  • There are currently around 7500 expressions of interest in the skilled migrant category pool.  Draws from the pool have been suspended. Significant changes are being considered, for example an increase in points. Proposals are with the Minister for consideration.
  • Processing will now be significantly led by algorithms with staff only involved in specific matters that the technology refers to them. Operational nuances are yet to be finalised.
  • There is  some planning around backfilling freed up spaces left by a trans-Tasman bubble in MIQ such as partners of long term work Visa holders who are currently an eligible.

Contact us now for more details on how we can help.

Other critical worker updates

  • We received a breakdown of the other critical workers approvals which has been at around 56% and that there had been 2922 applications including 6690 workers.

The  largest number of approvals were in the following areas:

    1. research and development,
    2. primary industry and fisheries (groups have been exempted),
    3. sports and  recreation, including America’s Cup,
    4. tourism: fairly modest approval levels,
    5. other.

Contact us now for more details on how we can help.

  • We raised the issue of the definition other critical workers which is still restricted to unique skills not readily available in New Zealand.”  The idea of advertising was raised which we are doing.  There is a group of workers who are in practice all but impossible to replace but who simply cannot meet the current test.

 Other border exceptions

  •  There is now a 10 day turn around on average for general exceptions. Those being approved are mainly partners and dependants on New Zealand citizens and residents.
  • For those who do not meet the key criteria there are very high decline rates (e.g: 90% for humanitarian).

 New IT system

  • The Minister has a new IT platform commencement proposal awaiting signoff. The IT system is being developed by Microsoft and has been in development for a long time. This covers the new employer led immigration changes but also covers things such as online applications, replacing AMS. It is a massive undertaking and a major project. This system is expected to be online this year. For clients this should lead to the last paper applications moving online.

 Fees are going up

  • Treasury has guaranteed INZ’s cash flow for 12 months but because of costs and falls in applications, fees will be considerably increased. Details are yet to be confirmed.

Minister’s powers

  • It is intended to extend the Minister’s Covid 19 related powers to suspend and change various application types etc for two years until May 2023.


We will continue to keep our clients and colleagues updated as we become aware of further changes.  If you are an employer with non-resident staff, the changes to employer supported visas will need your close attention. We can help.  Find out about our services on our website. Our contact details are here.

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