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New Zealand Tightens Work Visa Rules: Key Changes for Skill Levels 4 and 5

Overview of New Immigration Rules

As of April 7, 2024, Immigration New Zealand has introduced significant changes for positions categorised under Skill Levels 4 and 5. These changes emphasise stricter criteria, with a heightened reliance on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) for skill level determination. Here's a detailed breakdown of what these changes mean for employers and migrants.

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English Language Requirements for Low-Skilled Roles

A crucial update is the introduction of mandatory English language testing for applicants to positions at Skill Levels 4 and 5. Migrants can meet this requirement through citizenship, qualifications obtained, or specific English language tests. This measure aims to ensure that all workers have a proficient level of English, facilitating better workplace integration and communication.

Minimum Skill Threshold

To elevate the standard of applications, a minimum skill threshold has been set. Applicants must now have either:

  • Three years of relevant work experience, or

  • A qualification at Level 4 or higher.

For qualifications between Levels 4 and 6, a New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) assessment is required. However, degree-level qualifications are exempt from this assessment and the job offer relevance check.

Enhanced Labor Market Testing

Labor market testing has become more stringent to protect local employment opportunities. The key changes include:

  • Extended Advertising Period: Job advertisements for Skill Levels 4 and 5 must now be posted for at least 21 days, an increase from the previous 14 days.

  • Collaboration with Work and Income: Employers must engage with Work and Income, New Zealand’s social welfare and employment agency, for labor market assessments before filling these positions.

  • Employer Obligations: Employers are required to verify applicants' qualifications, report AEWV holder departures to Immigration New Zealand within 10 days, and provide robust evidence of labor market shortages.

Shortened Visa Validity and Changes in Franchisee Accreditation

The maximum continuous stay for roles at Skill Levels 4 and 5 has been reduced from five years to three years, extendable by one year. After this period, migrants must either leave New Zealand for 12 months or apply for a higher skill level AEWV. Additionally, the franchisee accreditation category will be disbanded, necessitating that businesses align with new accreditation standards.


These changes reflect New Zealand's commitment to ensuring that its immigration policies support economic needs while prioritising local employment. Employers and potential migrants must adapt to these new requirements, which are designed to maintain a balance between attracting skilled workers and protecting the domestic labour market.

Stay Informed

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