Untitled design - 2020-12-06T041246.538.

INZ Covid Update – Introduction of RSE / SSE Visas and new border closure exemption

Updated: Dec 10, 2020


The Government has just introduced some key visa changes to address pressing issues facing New Zealand’s seasonal primary sector. The new Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) visa, the Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) visa and a new border closure exemption.

What’s new?

The new RSE visa

Who can get it?

Former RSE workers who are still in New Zealand on flexible limited visas.

What it allows them to do?

They will be able to ‘re-enter’ the RSE Scheme and work for RSE employers in the horticulture and viticulture industries for 30 hours per week with average pay guaranteed.

The SSE visa

Who can get it?

Working Holiday Scheme (WHS) visa holders who are in New Zealand, with visas expiring between 1 October 2020 and March 2021, will be automatically granted the SSE visas.

What it allows them to do?

Allows them to work until 30 June 2021, in horticulture and viticulture seasonal roles, where there are not enough New Zealanders available to do the work.

Who does this apply to?

You are eligible if:

  • Previously held a RSE work visa and currently holds a flexible limited visa; or

  • Currently holding a working holiday visa, that will expire between 1 October 2020 and March 2021.

Snapshot of the key RSE/SSE changes:

  • Around 11,000 WHS visa holders in New Zealand will be automatically granted SSE visas, allowing them the opportunity to work until 30 June 2021 in horticulture and viticulture seasonal roles.

  • The expectation is that RSE workers will be prioritised for horticulture and viticulture roles; where an RSE worker has not been able fill a role, they will be able to be temporarily filled by an SSE visa holder. RSE employers will need to prioritise their RSE workforce before seeking to recruit a SSE visa holder.

  • SSE visa holders will only be able to work in certain roles, for certain employers, in certain regions for certain periods of time.

  • Those who do not wish to have an SSE visa automatically granted will need to lodge an application for a different appropriate visa, or leave New Zealand before their current visa expires. SSE Visas will not be automatically granted if there is already an application for another visa.

  • Visitors, students and other work visa holders can apply for an SSE visa and will have the same work rights as those being granted by special direction.

New border closure exemption

Who can get it?

Veterinarians, deep sea fishing crew, as well as agricultural and horticultural machinery operators, currently outside of New Zealand.

What it allows them to do?

Allows them exemption to enter New Zealand.

Snapshot of the key exception changes

The Government has agreed to class exceptions for:

  • Up to 30 veterinarians who are needed for large animal and livestock roles.

  • 570 people for up to 6 months as deepwater fishing crew.

  • Up to 210 experienced agricultural and horticulture machinery operators.


Contact us for further enquiries or assistance.