Immigration changes support screen and entertainment industries

  • Jonathan Coleman

Changes announced today to visa processes for screen, entertainment and music industry workers will support the sector’s growth, says Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman.

The changes provide a simpler, more streamlined system for the entry of temporary entertainment industry workers into New Zealand.

‘’The existing policy is out-dated. It’s been in place for 20 years and the entertainment industry has grown hugely over that time,’’ says Dr Coleman.

Today’s changes mean workers here for 14 days or less, or workers on an international co-production, face a greatly simplified process. For longer periods of employment, such as during the making of feature films, the policy places more trust in employers who have proven their bona fides and have a track record of bringing in workers for legitimate purposes.

‘’The screen industry employs around 6,700 people and is worth over $2.8 billion dollars a year, with great potential for further growth. To realise that growth, we need immigration policies that ensure key workers can get here with minimal fuss so that New Zealand remains an attractive destination for productions,’’ says Dr Coleman.

Under current rules for screen, entertainment and music workers, all work visa applications are referred to the industry guilds and unions under a ‘silent approval’ process. This means that the guilds or unions have the right to object to an application.

‘’In some cases, issues with existing processes were putting offshore investment in the New Zealand screen industry at risk,’’ says Dr Coleman.

‘’Another feature of the changes is that performers here for significant music, arts or cultural festivals can come into the country on a visitor visa.

‘’In the past two and a half years there have been 14 applications disputed by unions or guilds out of 4800 applications for screen industry work, and the Government has ultimately granted visas in all those cases.

‘’In short, we are removing a redundant, bureaucratic process which only served to make New Zealand a less attractive place for the screen and entertainment industry to do business.’’

The new policy will be operational from March 2012.


The policy changes mean that guild or union referrals will not be required for entertainment workers who are entering New Zealand for 14 days or less or for those entering as part of an official co-production.

There are two options for workers who wish to enter New Zealand for more than 14 days. Employers can now apply in advance for accreditation enabling them to bring in workers without further referral. Alternatively the current process remains available in such cases.

The policy will be reviewed 18 months after its introduction.

Information is available at