New Zealand’s Immigration Rebalance

From 4 July, New Zealand’s borders will reopen to all workers with some new changes directly affecting employers in the health and disability sector:

Changes are designed to make it easier to attract and hire high-skilled migrants in the health and disability sector whilst supporting the care workforce sector to shift away from relying on lower-paid migrant workers.


The health and disability sector, like others, can continue recruiting migrants with open work rights, such as working holiday makers and students – these changes only apply to workers on employer-assisted work visas.

The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)

From 4 July 2022, The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will be the main temporary work visa pathway, and replaces the Essential Skills Visa and several other visas Immigration New Zealand have recently retired. Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)

Employers need to be AEWV accredited

In order to hire a migrant worker on the new Accredited Employer Work Visa, employers need to apply for AEWV accreditation. Applications open on 23 May 2022 on Immigration NZ’s Accredited Employer Work Visa page.

The median wage threshold

From July 4, there will be a median wage threshold of $27.76 per hour or above, for the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV), unless an occupation is exempted by a sector agreement(e.g. the one in place for the care workforce)

The Green List

The Green List makes it easier for employers to hire migrants in specific occupations. Any occupation on the Green List will still need to meet the median wage threshold, and are limited to migrants 55 years or younger.

Health practitioner occupations included on the Green List:

Fast-tracked residence pathway

Work-to-residence pathway

  • General Practitioners
  • Anaesthetists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Specialist Physicians
  • Not Elsewhere Classified Surgeons (including General Surgeons, Cardiothoracic Surgeons, Neurosurgeons, Orthopaedic Surgeons, Otorhinolaryngologists, Urologists and Vascular Surgeons)
  • Other Medical Practitioners (including Dermatologists, Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Ophthalmologists, Diagnostic and Interventional Radiologists, and Radiation Oncologists)
  • Resident Medical Officers
  • Medical Laboratory Scientists
  • Clinical Psychologists & Psychologists
  • Physicists (Medical)
  • Orthoptists
  • Anaesthetic Technicians
  • Medical Laboratory Technicians
  • Medical Imaging Technologists
  • Medical Radiation Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Sonographers
  • Podiatrists
  • Audiologists
  • Midwives
  • All Registered Nurse disciplines (including but not limited to Aged Care).

More information on Green List occupations (Immigration website)

Sector agreement for the care workforce

Sector agreements allow employers of certain occupations in the care workforce to be exempt from the median wage requirement in exchange for ongoing training and improvements to reduce the reliance on migrant workers.

Stakeholder engagement in May and June 2022

The Ministry of Health and Immigration New Zealand will be conducting engagement with selected stakeholders in the care workforce during May and June 2022 to introduce the concept and content of the care workforce sector agreement.

While the care workforce sector agreement is being finalised, a lower wage threshold of $25.39 will be put in place from 4 July onwards for hiring migrant workers into care worker roles. This is aligned with the pay level for carer workers qualified at Level 3, or with 8 plus years’ experience in the current pay equity arrangement.

Roles covered by the care workforce sector agreement

  • Personal Care Assistants
  • Disabilities Services Officers
  • Nursing Support Workers
  • Community Workers, Aged or Disabled Carers
  • Kaiāwhina workforces
  • Residential Care Officers
  • Community Care Providers
  • Mental Health and Addictions Providers
  • In-home Care Providers.

Further information

More information about the wider changes coming into effect from the Immigration Rebalance, including how students are affected, key dates, and downloadable factsheets, are available on the Immigration New Zealand website.

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