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New Zealand Tightens Visa Rules: Impact on Indian Immigrants

Reflecting recent immigration policy shifts in Australia and Canada, New Zealand has introduced significant amendments to its visa rules. These changes, aimed at controlling the influx of foreign immigrants, could profoundly impact Indian students and professionals seeking opportunities in New Zealand.

New Visa Regulations:

Stricter requirements have been set for foreigners aspiring to study or settle in New Zealand. Notable among these are the imposition of English language proficiency tests, an increased emphasis on work experience, skill-based criteria, and a reduction in the duration of work visas from 5 years to 3 years. These amendments, spearheaded by New Zealand’s Immigration Minister Erica Stanford, primarily affect the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) program, a critical component initially implemented in 2022 to address workforce shortages induced by the pandemic.

Changes to Visa Duration and Renewal:

From June 21, 2023, visas for specific job roles in New Zealand will initially be valid for up to two years. However, these can be extended if applicants meet stringent renewal criteria. On a brighter note, those seeking residency through similar jobs might qualify for more extended visas, offering a glimmer of hope for those aspiring to settle in New Zealand.

New Requirements for Visa Applicants:

Applicants must demonstrate three years of relevant work experience or sufficient educational qualifications. For instance, a bachelor’s degree or higher in a relevant field could be considered sufficient. Additionally, those seeking jobs at ANZSCO levels 4 or 5 must prove their proficiency in English. This could be done by providing a valid IELTS or TOEFL score. Specific job roles will now be eligible for visas lasting up to two years, with potential extensions following employment evaluations.

Implications for Indian Immigrants:

The data from July 2023 to February 2024 shows that Indian nationals are the primary users of the AEWV, making up a significant portion of work visa applicants in New Zealand. With these regulatory changes, it will become increasingly challenging for Indian immigrants, especially those outside the Anglosphere, to secure work opportunities in New Zealand. The new criteria are expected to particularly impact those aspiring to work and settle in the country, altering migration patterns that have seen a significant influx of Indians over the past decade. Specifically, Indian students may find it harder to secure work visas after their studies, and professionals may face increased competition due to the reduced duration of work visas.

Statistical Insights:

Fiscal Year 2023/24
Period July ’23 – Feb ’24
Category Work Visa
India 30,315
China 12,316
UK 10,451
Philippines 14,388
Germany 5,293
France 5,472
USA 4,159
  • India leads significantly with 30,315 work visas, indicating a high migration activity from India to New Zealand, likely driven by the demand for skilled labour.
  • China and the Philippines follow with 12,316 and 14,388 visas, respectively, showing solid ties and workforce contributions from these nations.

Approximately 30,000 Indians applied for a Work Visa in New Zealand in the fiscal year 2023-24, contributing to more than 50% of the AEWV applications. Despite New Zealand’s relatively small population of 5.1 million, the country has experienced a substantial influx of migrants, with 173,000 people migrating last year alone. The Ministry of External Affairs reports that around 250,000 persons of Indian origin have settled permanently in New Zealand, a testament to the significant contributions of Indian immigrants to the country’s workforce and society.

Comparative Analysis:

The tightening of New Zealand’s immigration policies mirrors similar initiatives by Australia, which also announced a reduction in its migrant intake and raised entry requirements. These collective measures reflect a broader trend among countries to reevaluate and recalibrate their immigration policies in response to changing economic and social dynamics.


The recent amendments to New Zealand’s visa regulations mark a shift towards a more selective immigration system, balancing economic needs with concerns about population growth and integration. While these changes may pose challenges for Indian immigrants seeking opportunities in New Zealand, they also underscore the resilience and adaptability of the Indian community. This resilience is a testament to their ability to navigate evolving immigration landscapes and explore alternative pathways to achieve personal and professional goals.

Overall, the policy changes signal a new era in New Zealand’s approach to immigration, emphasizing quality over quantity and aligning more closely with global trends in migration management. As the landscape evolves, potential immigrants must stay informed and adapt to these changes to navigate their way towards successful migration and integration into New Zealand society.

About ICL ImmigrationICL Immigration, based in Auckland, is an established licensedimmigration adviser with over 20 years of experience and a remarkable 97% approval rate. We’ve helped over 1,000 immigrants realise their New Zealand settlement dreams.

We specialise in various visa services, including student, residency, work visas and business-related services like employer accreditation. We ensure personalised solutions for individuals and businesses aiming to navigate New Zealand’s immigration landscape successfully.

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