Feb 26, 2024

Immigration update – Median wage increases and their impact on visa holders

Below is an update on median wage announcements and how they may impact your business when it comes to hiring and retain visa holders. This increase could have quite serious ramifications when it comes to your business finances as well as retaining and hiring staff so we want to ensure you’re across it. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has just confirmed that from 28 February 2024, the new median wage rate of $31.61, which is based on StatsNZ median wage, will be adopted into parts of immigration policy. For some visa types, the new median wage will be used as the qualifying threshold. For other visa types, the current thresholds will remain in use.

So which visas will be affected and which won’t? See below


Work Visas to remain the same

The rate of NZ$29.66 remains the threshold for the following Work Visas. This is to allow government time to review the use of wage thresholds as indications of skill level and to reset policies.

  • Accredited Employer Work Visa
  • AEWV-linked visas (e.g. Partner of Worker Work Visa, subsequent Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa, some variation of conditions).

For roles covered by the sector agreements, the current median wage exemptions also continue to stand. The tourism and hospitality median wage exemption will no longer be removed in April 2024.

Residence Visas affected by the increase

The wage thresholds for the following visa categories will increase from 28 February 2024, in line with the new StatsNZ median wage of NZ$31.61;

  • Skilled Migrant Category
  • Green List Straight to Residence
  • Green List Work to Residence (WtR)
  • Transport Sector Work to Residence (excluding bus drivers)
  • Parent Category Residence

How might the Residence Visa wage threshold increase impact staff?

  • The rate required for accruing work experience over the 2-years of their WtR pathway may differ from the rate required at time of application.
  • For certain occupations, a higher wage threshold indexed to the median wage will be required to qualify for residence.
  • For anyone you’d like to support on residency but are not meeting the thresholds yet, you may only have a short window to increase wages to start qualifying; as they will otherwise require higher rates from 28 February 2024 to qualify. – For example, the current requirement for Civil Machine Operators to start their WtR pathway is NZ$34.11. If you increase wages to NZ$34.11 now, they can commence their 2-year pathway. If you wait until after 28 March 2024, the wage they require to start the pathway will be increased to $36.35.

We appreciate that there’s is a bit of detail here so feel free to get in touch with us to check what wages are required for what roles and visa types. We’re here to help you get clarity on the changes.


Nassim Lalehzari
Chief Commercial Officer – Visas
IAA License #201200100

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