UK-NZ working holiday scheme to come into force earlier than expected

The expansion to the work abroad schemes for young people in New Zealand and the United Kingdom will be delivered earlier than expected.

The UK will move to its enhanced Working Holiday Visas (WHV) scheme from June 29, 2023, and New Zealand's will come into force from July 1, 2023.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said by coming into force by July this year it will help support businesses through the global labour shortages.

The improved visa allows New Zealanders aged 18 to 35 to apply for a working visa in the United Kingdom that will last for three years as opposed to the usual two.

It was agreed on back in July 2022 between then Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern.

The changes include a five-year extension to the age of eligibility for both schemes, an extension to how long a person can work and stay in each country and an increase in the annual cap for the UK visas to 15,000 per year.

The WHV aims to give more UK travellers open work rights in New Zealand for longer, with the current 4200 visa holders from the UK in the country able to extend their right to remain and work here for at least one year longer.

"Securing an implementation date for this new scheme sooner than expected means those who are already in country will now be eligible to remain here longer, adding to the pool of labour available to businesses," Hipkins said in a statement.

The new conditions of the scheme are reciprocal, meaning New Zealanders will have the same rights within the UK.

"I can say from personal experience a little while ago, that for many Kiwis the ‘OE’ is an invaluable opportunity to head away for a little adventure, gain some broader work experience and build on skills which can then be brought back to New Zealand," Hipkins said.

He said the changes to the scheme reflects the depth of our long-standing relationship with the UK, which is one of our closest partners.

"The improvements to this scheme are testament to this; it is great to provide young people in both our countries with more opportunities to work and live alongside one another," Hipkins said.