BREAKING: The border is fully open in July, international students return

Over 5,000 international students have already been confirmed for entry under previous border exemptions, meaning they can be here by mid-July. From the end of July, all international students who meet the normal entry criteria can register to study here. Photo The University of Auckland

Border fully opened two months early from 23:59 on July 31

Significantly streamlined immigration processes that allow for faster processing for businesses

New Green List that includes over 85 hard-to-fill positions created to attract and retain highly skilled workers to fill skills shortages

The Green List will provide a streamlined, tiered pathway to residency encouraging highly skilled workers in the healthcare, engineering, business and technology sectors to move to New Zealand long-term

Visa extensions for around 20,000 migrants already in New Zealand to ensure skilled workers stay in the country

New sector-specific agreements, to help industries move away from reliance on low-paid, low-skilled migrant labour, including additional measures to support the rebuilding of our tourism sector

Cruise ships can return with the opening of the maritime border from July 31

Full resumption of international teaching from July 31

Apprenticeship Boost extended to the end of 2023, supporting an additional 38,000 New Zealanders in trades

Online visitor visa applications reopen in Pacific Islands Forum countries (excluding Australia) from May 16

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today announced a major reform package, which includes an early opening of the New Zealand border and a simplification of immigration settings, to address immediate skills shortages in New Zealand and speed up the economic recovery after Covid-19.

“New Zealand is in demand and is now fully open for business,” Ardern said.

“New Zealand’s international border will reopen to all tourists and visa holders two months earlier than scheduled on July 31.

“This will be good news for families, businesses and our migrant communities. It also provides certainty and good preparation time for airlines and cruise lines planning a return to New Zealand in the spring and summer.

“We know that a major constraint for companies is access to a qualified workforce. This plan will increase the available labor pool, while accelerating the recovery of our tourism.

“This follows our previous reconnection work which saw approvals given to over 29,000 critical workers, 5,000 students, working holidaymakers, Australian tourists and visa-exempt visitors already able to enter the country.

“By helping to fill urgent skills shortages, opening up tourism and securing our immigration settings, we are building on our proven plan to secure New Zealand’s economic future.”

The government has also announced new ‘rebalanced’ immigration metrics that will help businesses access the key skills they need while ensuring better wages and working conditions for all.

“New Zealand cannot return to pre-pandemic trends which made us overly dependent on growing numbers of low-skilled workers and led to increased exploitation of migrants,” said Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi .

“Our plan is to develop the skills at home. Over the past two years, more than 190,000 New Zealanders have benefited from public investment in skills training, including apprenticeships. On Monday we announced an extension to the Apprenticeship Boost program which will see an additional 38,000 New Zealanders supported in a trade.

“The cornerstone of our rebalancing is the new Green List which will incentivize and attract highly skilled migrants to New Zealand, providing a new streamlined pathway to residency for those who are hard to fill globally. The list includes 85 hard-to-fill positions, including construction engineering, trades, healthcare workers and technology.

“Our rebalanced immigration system will be simpler, reducing categories, providing greater online accessibility and streamlining application processes for businesses.

“With the Accredited Employer Work Visa, employers will not need to provide as much information, can use their own recruitment processes to prove that no New Zealanders are available to work, and Immigration New Zealand will endeavor to have these visas processed within 30 days of an employer being accredited.

“We have worked closely with business on these reforms and understand that for some sectors it will take time to move away from reliance on cheap migrant labour.

“The government recognizes that change for some sectors is more difficult than for others by establishing new sectoral agreements to facilitate the transition. They will give access to specific sectors to the lowest paid migrant workers, and all these employers will be able to continue to hire holidaymakers who work at any salary.

“The tourism and hospitality industries in particular have been hit hard by the pandemic. The government has agreed to temporarily exempt tourism and hospitality businesses from paying the median wage to recruit migrants on accredited employer work visas in most roles. Instead, a lower wage threshold of $25 per hour will be required until April 2023. This follows the recent border exception of $27 per hour that was granted around certain snow season roles to help the sector prepare for winter tourists.

“New branch agreements for care; construction and infrastructure; meat processing; Seafood; and the seasonal snow and adventure tourism sectors will meet a short-term or ongoing need for access to lower-paid migrants.

“We are also announcing today that approximately 20,000 visa holders whose visas expire before 2023 will be granted either a six-month extension or a new two-year visa with open working conditions, so that they themselves and their employers will not be affected by this. changes and we can keep the skills we need in the country.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the full reopening is an important step for the international education sector, which can now begin to rebuild in a sustainable way, with an emphasis on value and attracting genuine students.

“Over 5,000 international students have already been confirmed to enter under previous border exemptions, meaning they can be here by mid-July. From the end of July, all international students who meet the normal entry criteria can apply to study here,” Hipkins said.

“But the future will be different, we will not return to the volume versus value approach of National which has become a back door to residence for lower skilled and lower paid migrant workers, who then risked be exploited.

“The changes we are announcing today aim to attract students to New Zealand to learn, while closing the back door to residence.”

These changes include:

Students on non-degree courses will not gain post-study work rights unless they study and then work in specified skilled and shortage occupations

· For university students and other eligible international students, the length of time they can work after graduation will reflect the length of their studies in New Zealand. Currently, some students can work for up to three years after only 30 weeks of study. Masters and PhD students will retain the right to work in New Zealand for up to three years after graduation

· Students will also not be able to apply for a second New Zealand post-study visa.

“New Zealand has a strong international education brand and is universally seen as a place where students want to come and study. It enriches us, connects us to the world and strengthens our reputation abroad,” said Chris Hipkins.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said the decision to bring forward the final border opening date allows us to reconnect fully with the world of international tourists and business travelers in time for our traditional peak season. .

“Our wider tourism sector is on the road to recovery. We will be fully open to the world in mid-winter, traditionally our quietest time for visitors. Bringing the date forward allows potential travelers to apply for visitor visas well in advance before taking the next step to book a flight or cruise for future travel,” Nash said.

“About 90% of cruise visits take place in the warmer months of October through April, and summer is our overall peak tourist season. Today’s announcement means it’s full steam ahead for the industry to plan with certainty for the rest of the year and beyond.

Full details of the government’s immigration rebalancing, including changes to settings, can be found here.