New Zealand has reopened working holiday visa applications for the first time since the pandemic started.
Working holidays allow people – usually between 18 to 30 years of age – to travel to New Zealand and work whilst in the country.
New Zealand’s Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said the return of skilled migrants and working holidaymakers in the coming days is a priority for the New Zealand government, as it would accelerate economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Mr Faafoi, New Zealand welcomed around 50,000 working holidaymakers every year before the pandemic – a key milestone for the country.
He claimed that reopening borders for this group of tourist and skilled migrants would go a long way to ensuring New Zealand’s economy is restored to pre-pandemic levels.
He also said the critical worker border exception for roles lasting more than six months would be expanded, with the salary criteria reduced to 1.5 times the median wage and the removal of the requirement for skills not readily available in New Zealand’s local workforce.
Mr Faafoi explained the widened settings would benefit a variety of sectors seeking to attract skilled migrants, including early to mid-career professionals for occupations in the tech, education, business and accounting services, construction, and the primary industries.
New Zealand had previously granted a new 12-month visa to almost 20,000 offshore applicants who had previously held a working holiday visa, but they were unable to use the visa due to border closures and travel restrictions.
Incoming skilled migrants from abroad will also help fill labour shortages and support New Zealand’s tourism industry.
Many industries in New Zealand have been contending with extensive workforce shortages following border closures due to the pandemic.
Such industries include hospitality, food services and tourism – which primarily relies on tourists travelling to New Zealand.
Mr Faafoi said working holidaymakers tend to travel to multiple regions during their stay in New Zealand, which is immensely beneficial for the tourism sector and local economies across the country.
Working holiday visa holders can work in New Zealand for up to 12 months, or 23 months if they are from the United Kingdom or Canada.