Partner Work Visas – New rules from May 2023

By Hannah-Jean McCarthy

24 May 2023

Changes to conditions for the Partner of a Worker Work Visa (‘PWWV’) have now been confirmed and are to be implemented from 31 May 2023. The threshold for partners of workers who wish to work in New Zealand has increased, as the Government pushes for employers to hire New Zealanders first.  These changes will have a significant impact on partners of workers on Accredited Employer Work Visas (‘AEWV’) and Essential Skills Work Visas (‘ESWV’).

Once these changes are introduced, partners of workers applying for a PWWV may have new conditions that require:

  • They can only be employed in New Zealand by an Accredited Employer;
  • They can work in roles covered by capped sector agreements in limited circumstances, for example Meat Processing and  Seafood, including onshore processing and sea-based fishing crew;
  • If working in a role not covered by a sector agreement, they must be paid at least the median wage in effect at the time they receive their visa, or when they receive a job offer, whichever is later. This is currently NZD $29.66.
  • If working in a role covered by an uncapped sector agreement, they must be paid at least the relevant wage threshold in place. This includes roles within the care workforce, tourism and hospitality, construction and infrastructure, seasonal snow and adventure tourism, and transport. They will not be subject to a stand-down period.

This change will mean that some AEWV holders who are working in an industry covered by a sector agreement and paid below the median wage, will not be eligible to support a PWWV. Similarly, ESWV holders paid below the median wage will also not be eligible to support a PWWV.

There are some exceptions for partners of highly paid workers or workers in particular occupations. For example, some partners of AEWV and ESWV holders will continue to be eligible for a work visa allowing them to work in any occupation for any employer in New Zealand, with no median wage threshold. This includes partners of:

  • migrants who are paid at least twice the median wage, or
  • migrants who are working in a role on the Green List.

The positives of these changes include:

  • Partners applying for a PWWV will not need to have a job offer to apply for this visa, and employers do not need to complete a Job Check.
  • Once the visa is granted, the partner can change employers without applying for a Variation of Conditions.
  • There is no minimum number of hours that partners need to work.
  • Any later changes affecting the employer’s accreditation, the median wage, and sector agreements will not impact the visa holder if they remain in the same employment.

It is important to note that these changes will not affect current PWWV conditions or people who apply for a PWWV before 31 May 2023.  In addition, there will be no changes to the work visa conditions for holders of a Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa or partners of those holding other work visas such as the Post Study Work Visa.

From 31 May 2023, it will be possible to check on Immigration New Zealand’s website if an employer is accredited.

Talk to Us

At Pitt & Moore Lawyers we appreciate that many migrants will find these changes complex and may have difficulty determining what conditions will be placed on their, or their partner’s PWWV.

If you have questions about eligibility, how this may affect you or your partner or need help with the visa application process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced team of immigration lawyers.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.

Hannah-Jean McCarthy

Hannah-Jean McCarthy

Position: Solicitor
DDI: +64 3 9280108

Topics: All Select