From today, Immigration New Zealand is making positive changes to the AEWV.
They're introducing a 'maximum continuous stay' for everyone with an AEWV.
A 'maximum continuous stay' is the total time you can be on an AEWV before you must spend time outside New Zealand to be eligible for another AEWV.
If you're paid at or above the median wage or the level 4 pay rate in the care workforce sector, you can stay for up to 5 years.
For those in the care workforce sector paid at the level 3 and 4 pay rates, the maximum visa length increases to 3 years.
AEWV holders can apply for the balance of the longer five-year or three-year visa if they are eligible. Their current visa will not extend automatically to the longer length.
You can spend the maximum continuous stay on 1 or more AEWVs.
What to do when you reach the end of your 'maximum continuous stay'?
Once you've reached the maximum continuous stay in New Zealand, you need to leave for a specific period to qualify for another AEWV. The required time outside New Zealand depends on your pay:
If you're paid the median wage or above, or below the median wage in a role other than meat and seafood processing, you must spend at least 12 consecutive months outside New Zealand.
If you're paid below the median wage in a meat or seafood processing role, you must spend at least 4 consecutive months outside New Zealand.
Even if you haven't reached the maximum continuous stay, you can apply for a new AEWV once you've spent the required time outside New Zealand. Your new visa will have the maximum length for your role, and the maximum continuous stay for your AEWV will be reset.
What about those on a pathway to residence?
You will be able to apply for another AEWV without spending 12 months out of New Zealand if you are on a pathway to residence. An example of this could be if you meet the skill, occupational registration, qualification or income threshold, but need more time to complete your skilled work experience.
Should I apply for my AEWV balance?
Your current AEWV will not extend automatically to the longer length. So, you will need to apply for the balance of the longer 5-year or 3-year visa. Couple of points to consider:
If you apply to get the balance, you will pay the normal AEWV application fee.
If you meet the requirements, your partner and any dependent children are also eligible for a further visa to match the length of your further AEWV. They must meet the usual visa requirements and pay the fees for their applications.
The answer to whether you should apply for the balance of your AEWV depends on your personal circumstances:
If you are in a role where you currently do not qualify for residency, the extra visa duration may give you a chance to do so.
For those on a residency pathway, there may not be a necessity to do so, considering the costs involved.
For employers supporting their workers to apply for their visa balance
Accredited employers can support employees to apply for their visa balance if:
they are paying them at least the median wage, or
they employ them as part of the care workforce sector agreement.
Employers do not need to do another Job Check for the role and can reuse the job token, if:
their employee had an AEWV on 26 November 2023
they continue to employ them in the same role, in the same location, and
they pay them at least the amount listed in their current AEWV conditions.