CHANGES TO NZ ESSENTIAL SKILLS VISA - JULY 2021

June 15, 2021

From 19 July 2021, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will assess Essential Skills visa applications using the median hourly wage of $27.00 New Zealand Dollars, an increase from the current rate of $25.50. What this means for migrant workers is that INZ will not:

  • Grant Essential Skills work visas for 3 years for people in roles earning less than $27.00 an hour.  

  • Accept residence visa applications under the Skilled Migrant category where the principal applicant earns less than $27.00 an hour.

In addition, the Minister of Immigration has made the following changes:

  • Increased the duration of new Essential Skills visas for migrant workers who are paid below the median wage from 6 months to 12 months. This is good news and applies to all visas granted on and after 10 June 2021. Current Essential Skills visas will not be extended.

  • Postponed the stand-down period for Essential Skills visa holders, who are paid below the median wage, until July 2022. Normally, Essential Skills visa holders paid below the median wage would be required to leave New Zealand for 12 months after three years before they can apply for another work visa that pays below the median wage.

Other key policy requirements for Essential Skills visas remain unchanged, including:

  • Migrant workers must work and get paid for at least 30 hours of work per week

  • Employers must prove that they have been genuinely unsuccessful at attracting a New Zealander into the role before offering it to a migrant worker.

As we already noted in a previous update, the Essential Skills work visa regime will close on 31 October 2021. This means that any Essential Skills visa application must be submitted to Immigration New Zealand no later than on 31 October 2021. If you are thinking about applying for a new Essential Skills work visa or require any immigration advice, then contact our immigration lawyer at BK Immigration Law.