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FAQs: 'Partner Work Visa' changes from May 2023

19 May 2023

From 31 May 2023, partners of many Accredited Employer Work Visa holders will have some conditions placed on their visa when applying for a new partnership-based work visa. These changes are one of the biggest ever made to family temporary visas in New Zealand's immigration history.

Here are the critical points to note.

1) What is happening with the Partner Work Visa situation?

Partners of AEWV holders will have the following conditions placed on their visas when applying for a new partnership-based work visa:

  • They must work for an Accredited Employer and
  • They must be paid at least the median wage - $29.66/hr.
  • If they work in a role covered by an uncapped sector agreement, they can be paid less than the median wage but must be paid the wage threshold for their role.
  • They cannot be self-employed

From 31 May 2023, people will be able to check on the INZ website if an employer is accredited.

2) Does this apply to partners of all work visa holders?

No. There are exceptions, these are as below. These groups will continue to receive automatic open work rights:

  • Partners of Post Study Work Visa holders.
  • Partners of Student Visas have their own eligibility rules, and this does not apply to them. 
  • Partners of migrants working in occupations on the Green List (Tier 1 & Tier 2) or paid twice the median wage (current median wage is $29.66/hour).
  • Partners of New Zealand citizens or residents.
3) When exactly does this new policy start?

This policy comes into effect from 31 May 2023.

4) Do partners need to have a job offer to apply for this visa? 

No, it is not a requirement. But they need to ensure that any future job offers they receive meet all the necessary conditions. Also, their employers will not have to complete a job check as part of the hiring process.

5) What about partners who already have a job offer? 

If partners have a job offer at the time their new visa is approved, they must ensure that their employment meets the new visa conditions.

6) Are partners required to work a minimum number of hours? 

No, there is no such requirement.

7) What if partners want to change jobs? 

Partners can change accredited employers without having to apply for a Variation of Conditions. Partners remaining in the same employment will not be impacted by future changes to employer accreditation, median wage, or sector agreements

8) What about AEWV holders who are covered by any sector agreement and paid below the median wage? 

If AEWV holders are covered by any sector agreement and paid below the median wage, their partners will NOT be eligible for a partnership-based work visa.

However, if they receive a pay hike it means they earn at least the median wage and may be able to support their partners for a work visa. Evidence of eligibility will need to be provided as part of the Partner of a Worker Work Visa application.

9) What about a partner's ability to access publicly-funded health services?

To access publicly-funded health services, you must hold a work visa of 2 years duration or more (or must have been lawfully in NZ for 2 years or more but must still be holding a work visa). Partners who will no longer be eligible for a work visa, will also not be eligible for publicly-funded healthcare. Full eligibility criteria is listed here.

10) What if I already hold a Partner Work Visa or have already submitted a Partner Work Visa application before 31 May 2023?

If you already hold a Partner Work Visa, these conditions the visa will remain valid and your work rights will not be revoked. If you have submitted a Partner Work Visa application before the policy changes, that's also okay, as long as your Partner Work visa is eventually approved. Once an application is submitted, the policy active at the time of submission applies to it, so any applications approved or submitted prior to 31 May 2023 will be insulated from the above change.

11) Do you need to live together for 12 months to be considered a 'partner' for work visa purposes?

You don't need to be living together for 12 months, but you need to meet the "living together" criteria (as one of the key criteria, and there are other partnership requirements that you need to meet as well) to be considered a partner in the "immigration sense." This is a holistic assessment of all the evidence you can provide for this purpose. For example, you can even get a work visa approved for six months of living together. 

Moving countries can be challenging at the best of times and the new changes to partner work rights add another layer of complexity. If you are looking to bring your partner and dependents over to NZ, please contact our team

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