Immigration alert – Immigration relief for extreme weather rebuild

24 Feb 23


Extreme weather events such as Cyclone Gabrielle have created significant destruction for several North Island communities. This has resulted in a substantial demand for occupations like engineers, insurance assessors and construction workers to help with the recovery.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has acknowledged that employers will need to rely on migrant labour to support New Zealand-based workers.

Specific Purpose Recovery Visa

A Specific Purpose (Recovery Visa) has been announced to assist with the emergency response. This visa will be granted for up to six months and can be used for:

  • Immediate clean-up.
  • Assessing risk or loss.
  • Providing emergency response.
  • Infrastructure, building and housing stabilisation and/or repair (including planning functions).

All work must be related to recovery from the extreme weather events in the North Island in January and February 2023, although the role can be based anywhere in New Zealand. This includes work that directly supports the recovery e.g. producing relevant material for road rebuilds and transport.

Importantly, an employer does not need to be accredited with INZ and the median wage threshold will not apply.

Application process

Step 1: employer finds migrant worker(s) to assist with the recovery.

Step 2: employer completes a Recovery Visa – Employer Supplementary Form.

Step 3: migrant worker applies for a Specific Purpose (Recovery Visa) online and uploads the employer supplementary form.

Step 4: INZ processes the application within one week.

If the application is approved, the $700 application fee will be refunded.

Visa conditions flexibility

Migrant workers already in New Zealand will be able to change their position and location for up to two months without breaching visa conditions. They must remain with the same employer.

Longer-term work visas

Employers needing assistance for longer than six months will need to rely on the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV).

Changes are currently being considered to support expedited AEWV processing for occupations that support the recovery. This will include labour-market test exemptions.

Our thoughts

This is a welcome update but we anticipate that recovery support will be required for more than six months.

If you are an employer needing to recruit migrant workers to help with the recovery, we recommend you use this temporary option to get migrant workers in quickly.

Employers needing migrant workers for longer than six months should apply for employer accreditation, if this is not already in place. Automatic 12-month extensions will be issued to all employers who apply for accreditation before 4 July 2023.

We expect that this is the first of many immigration announcements to support the recovery effort. Our office will release further alerts as these updates come through.


If you have any questions about this article, please contact Tash Rae or a member of our specialist Employment Team.

PDF version: here.

This article was included in Edition 17 of our employment newsletter which you can read here.

For more information contact:

Tash Rae