Strengthened protections and improved processes for partners of migrant workers


New changes to partner work rights, and an expansion of the Victims of Family Violence work visa, will strengthen protections and improve processes for partners of migrants who have come to New Zealand for work, Immigration Minister Michael Wood announced today.

From 31 May 2023 partners of most temporary migrant workers will be able to apply for a Partner of a Worker Work Visa with some conditions. This change will not affect partners with existing work visas.

“This approach will allow partners to apply for a work visa from offshore. They can work for any Accredited Employer, do not need to have a job or job offer to apply for the visa, and they will not need to engage with Immigration New Zealand if they change jobs” Michael Wood said.

“For employers, it means they will be able to keep recruiting partners in almost any role provided they meet the required payment thresholds – this is the median wage for most roles.

“To ensure New Zealand can continue to attract and retain high-skilled migrant workers, partners of migrants working in occupations on the Green List or paid twice the median wage will continue to be eligible for open work rights. Partners of New Zealand citizens and residents will also continue to be eligible for open work rights,” Michael Wood said.

The Government also announced today expanded access for those on partner-based visas to the Victims of Family Violence Work Visa.

“From 28 February 2023 access to the Victims of Family Violence work visa will be expanded to people who are on partner-based visas that are linked to temporary migrants,” Michael Wood said.

“A Victim of Family Violence Work Visa enables eligible migrants to obtain a six-month open work visa independent of their partner.

“While immigration settings do not cause family violence, this change aims to reduce the challenges faced by migrant victims of family violence based on their visa status,” Michael Wood said.

The changes align with the wider work Government is doing to implement Te Aorerekura - National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence by ensuring systems enable safety.

This announcement is the first step, and there is further work planned which will consider changes to settings to better support migrant victims of family violence.

“Our Government’s Immigration Rebalance is taking a long-term strategic view on attracting the skills New Zealand needs, while supporting New Zealanders to develop skills and move into work. This transition will be better for the New Zealand economy and will reduce the unacceptable levels of migrant exploitation that the old settings facilitated,” Michael Wood said.