New Zealand Raises Foreign Worker Minimum Wage


Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is raising the wage requirements for most work visas as of February 28. This is to represent the most recent rise in the median wage. This is good news for workers who want to move to New Zealand because it means there is a greater need for skilled workers. The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV), on the other hand, stays at its current wage level, which means that there will be a temporary change in the requirements.

What are the wage thresholds, and why do they change?

The minimum income you need to get certain types of visas is called the wage threshold. They are used by INZ to show the amount of skill needed for a job and are updated every year to keep up with inflation. The most recent change ties the threshold to the median hourly wage of NZD$31.61 in June 2023. This is a big jump from the previous number of NZD$29.66.

What kinds of visas are affected?

  • This price hike affects most work visas, such as:

  • Green List for Skilled Migrants: Straight to Residence

  • Work to Residence visas

  • Visa for parents to live in the country

To be qualified for these visas, applicants must now show that they make at least NZD$31.61 an hour. The minimum pay for the Transport Sector Work to Residence Visa will also go up to match the new median wage, but not for bus drivers.

Related link: Workers In New Zealand Desire To Work Remotely More

AEWV Exemption & Implications

The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) is the only important exception. INZ has chosen not to raise the minimum wage for this type of visa. It will stay at NZD$29.66 per hour. This move gives the government time to look into other ways to figure out skill level besides just looking at the typical wage.

The pause also impacts AEWV-linked work visas set at or indexed to the median wage rate from February 2023 (NZD$29.66 an hour) for consistency. This includes the Partner of a Worker Work Visa variation of conditions for AEWVs, legacy Essential Skills work visas, interim visas granted under the Skilled Migrant Category, and Partner of a Worker work visas Subsequent Migrant Exploitation Protection Visas.

This might look like a good thing for people looking for AEWVs, but there is a catch. No matter how much they make now under the AEWV, migrants who want to apply for Skilled Residence still need to meet the higher standard (NZD$31.61) at the time of application.

Agreements between sectors and minimum wage levels

Some fields, like tourism and leisure, have sector agreements that let them pay AEWVs less than the median wage. In these areas, however, the minimum wage is still based on the median pay. In the tourism and hospitality industry, the minimum pay is slowly going up. It is now NZD$28.18 an hour.

Again, there is a different agreement for bus drivers in the transportation sector. They need to make at least NZD$28 an hour right now. There is also an agreement for the care workers, and the minimum wage is NZD$26.16 per hour. The Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa, on the other hand, needs a minimum wage of NZD$28.25 per hour.

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