Overhaul of Essential Skills Work Visa Category

From Monday, 27 July 2020 Immigration New Zealand (‘INZ’) will be using different rules to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications. The new rules will only apply to new visa application lodged on or after 27 July 2020.

Existing visa application submitted to INZ prior to 27 July 2020 will be assessed on the basis of prior immigration instructions.

What has changed?

The existing Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (‘ANZSCO’) skill bands have been replaced with a simple wage threshold to determine:

    • visa conditions

    • maximum visa duration

    • Labour Market Test requirements

    • ability to support partner’s and dependent children’s visas

Make no mistake, INZ will still be considering ANZSCO to determine the market rate as well as the level of qualifications and/or experience required for the role on offer. This is to ensure that the applicant who is being supported is paid at the market rate and holds appropriate qualifications and experience required for a particular role.

Appendix 7 to the INZ Operational Manual includes a list of occupations that can be treated as an exception to certain skill level assessments for Skilled Migrant Category (‘SMC’) residence policy. From 27 July 2020 this list will not be used to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications.

The ANZSCO will still be used in assessment of SMC applications. No changes have been made to the SMC rules at this stage.

Remuneration and median wage

Applicants who are paid below the median wage, currently $25.50 per hour, will need to meet more stringent requirements to be eligible for an Essential Skills Work Visa.

Overview of the new rules

If paid below $25.50 per hour

  • Employers will need to engage with the Ministry of Social Development and obtain a Skills Match Report

  • Employers will also need to advertise the role and consider New Zealanders

  • Maximum duration for each visa will be 6 months for the next 18 months (i.e. during the period of 10 July 2020 to 10 January 2022)

  • Maximum combined duration of all work visas in jobs paying below the median wage is 3 years at which time holders of this visa will be subject to a stand down period of 12 months.

  • Support visitor visas for partners (partners can apply for a work visa in their own right)

  • Support visitor or student visas for dependent children (subject to meeting the minimum income threshold)

If paid at or above $25.50 per hour

  • Employers will need to advertise the role and consider New Zealanders

  • Skills Match Report not required

  • Maximum duration of each visa is 3 years

  • No maximum combined duration – not subject to stand down

  • Support visitor or work visas for partners

  • Support visitor or student visas for dependent children (subject to meeting minimum income threshold)

Get professional advice

We highly recommend for temporary visa holders who currently hold or want to apply for a Essential Skills Work Visa, to get in touch with us early so we can expertly guide you through your and your family’s options for remaining in New Zealand.

How Pitt & Moore can help

We offer an initial free consultation to all new clients to discuss your particular circumstances and what services we can provide.

What sets us apart is that we are experts in each step of the immigration process. This means that we can advise on all immigration and visa related issues.

Talk to us

We don’t just advise on the visa requirements, we can ensure that you receive comprehensive legal advice on to all aspects applicable to your particular circumstances, including compliance and employment

Contact our Immigration Team for professional legal advice that will give you peace of mind.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.

Topics: All Select

Elly Fleming

Position: Associate
Email: elly.fleming@pittandmoore.co.nz
DDI: +64 3 545 6714