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Changes for partners of work visa holders & visas for family violence victims

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

Partner work rights changes under the Immigration Rebalance

Immigration Rebalance policies encourage employers to use the New Zealand labour market to lessen their reliance on migrants and partners of temporary migrant workers to fill lower-skilled, lower paid roles. These changes were first announced in May 2022.

New visa conditions

From 31 May 2023, partners of most Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) and Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV) holders granted a partnership-based work visa must;

  • work for an Accredited Employer and

  • be paid at least the median wage or the wage threshold if the role is covered by an un-capped sector agreement.

The median wage was set at NZD $29.66 on 27 February 2023.

There are some exceptions to being paid the median wage. Refer to our News section here.

Visa options for partners

Partners of AEWV and ESWV holders can apply for their own work visa or a partnership visa based on their relationship to an AEWV or ESWV holder (the Partner of a Worker Work Visa).

From 31 May 2023 partners who make a new application for a Partner of a Worker Work Visa will have the new visa conditions if approved. Partners will not need to have a job offer to apply for this visa. When granted, they can change employers without contacting INZ.

Partners of AEWV and ESWV holders will usually be granted a visa for the same length of time as their supporting partners work visa.

The change does not apply to;

  • Existing partnership-based work visas holders (until their visa expires)

  • Partners of migrants working in occupations on the Green List or paid twice the median wage

  • Partners of New Zealanders

  • Partners of those holding other temporary visas.

There are specific requirements for working within sector agreements. Partners who do not want to work can apply to come to New Zealand on Visitor Visas.

Sector agreements and roles paid below the median wage

AEWV holders who are covered by a sector agreement or otherwise paid below the median wage cannot support a partner. This still applies under the new conditions.

ESWV holders who are paid below the median wage, or lower-skilled if the visa application was made before 27 July 2020, are also not currently eligible to support a partner. This will continue under the new settings.

Partners who hold a Partner of a Worker Work Visa may work in a role covered by a sector agreement without being subject to a stand down period. They will not be able to work in capped sector agreement roles.

Visa access for family violence victims

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is expanding the Victims of Family Violence Work Visa eligibility criteria to include partners of temporary migrants to ensure our immigration system supports migrant workers affected by family violence.

From 28 February 2023

  • Applications for the Victims of Family Violence Work Visa from people who hold a partnership-based visa with another temporary migrant can be made from 28 February 2023.

  • This visa has a 6-month duration and open work rights.

  • There is no fee for this visa. It is granted independently and does not depend on the applicant’s partnership.

  • Partners of New Zealand citizens and residents can already access the visa.

  • This change aims to reduce the challenges faced by migrant victims of family violence based on their visa status. Once expired they may be able to apply for an extension, a Victims of Family Violence Resident Visa or another visa.

How Immigration New Zealand defines family violence

INZ recognises family violence as any abuse towards you by someone you live with, who is family or close to you, that may:

  • control you or force you to do something you do not want to

  • cause you harm.

Types of abuse

Abuse can be an isolated event or a pattern of behaviour. It can be physical, sexual or psychological. It can include:

  • harassment, isolation, threats or other behaviour to scare you

  • financial, economic or dowry abuse

  • damage to property or abuse of pets.

You must have been living in a family relationship with the abuser

To be eligible to apply for the victims of family violence visas, you must have:

  • been living with the abuser, and

  • had what we call a 'family relationship' with them — this means they need to have been your partner, another family member, or someone close to you.


To be eligible for this visa, your partner must have been a New Zealand citizen or resident, or you must hold a partnership-based visa with another temporary migrant.

You can apply for the victims of family violence visas even if your partner was not the person abusing you.


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