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Essential Skills Work Visa

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Essential Skills Work Visa

You can apply for this visa if you have a job offer from a New Zealand employer, and you have the necessary qualifications and experience to work in that job. However, in most cases, your employer, before offering you the job, must have checked if any New Zealanders were available to do the work, through a process called labour market test.

Suppose you have a job offer in an occupation on one of the Essential Skills in Demand Lists and your qualifications and experience match. In that case, your employer won’t need to do the labour market test and provide evidence of attempting to recruit New Zealanders.

The duration of this visa usually depends on how long you have been offered employment for, and whether you will be paid below the median wage, or the median wage and above. If your wages are at or above the New Zealand median wage, then you may be able to get this visa with a duration for up to 3 years. If you want to stay in New Zealand for longer, you may be able to apply for another Essential Skills work visa.

On an Essential Skills visa, from 27 July 2020, you can support visitor visas for partners, visitor or student visas for dependent children, as long as you meet the income requirement. If you are paid at or above the median wage, you can also support a work visa for your partner.

This visa does not allow self-employment, but you can study for up to 3 months in any 12 month period, or do any study required as part of your employment.

If you have an Essential Skills work visa based on a skilled job, you may gain enough points to qualify for Residence Visa under the Skilled Migrant Category.

If you would like to know more about Essential Skills Work Visa  process, assessment criteria and the pitfalls that you should be aware of, please call us today on +64 9 379 0219 or email contact@nzimmigration.info



The following changes have been made:

  • For jobs paid below the median wage, the maximum duration of visa validity has beenextended from 12 months to 24 months.
  • The requirement for a Labour Market test (LMT)has been removed if the applicant is-
    • working full time (30 hours per week) and
    • applying for a further visa in the same role, for the same employer and in the same region on a full time basis.

If the client has been PPI’d on the LMT not being met, the Immigration Officer will contact the client/ adviser to let them know that this no longer needs a response.

Applicants no longer need to provide medical and police certificates if this information has previously been submitted to INZ. The application process for applicants remaining in their current role has been simplified.

The applicants under these new instructions must apply using a new paper-based form available on the INZ website. However, from 30 August 2021, an online form will be made available on the INZ website.

  • Employers no longer need to provide evidence of genuine attempts to recruit New Zealanders as the requirement for meeting the labour market test has been abolished for the time being.
  • Providing an employment agreement with the application or evidence that the applicant is suitably qualified for the job they are currently in is no longer required.
  • Providing medical and police certificates is no longer required if these were provided with a previous application.

Applicant paid below the median wage and therefore eligible for a 24 months visa, will be eligible for the full duration if their application is made before or on 30 June 2022. The stand-down will not apply until the end of that visa.

The median wage has been increased from NZ$ 25.50 per hour to NZ$ 27.00 per hour. The new median wage ($27.00) will apply to applications that are made from 19 July 2021. Any applications made on 18 July 2021 or earlier will be assessed under the previous median wage threshold ($25.50).

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has changed the process for testing the labour to more effectively prioritise New Zealand job seekers. The new Skills Match Report is available from 19 July 2021 onwards.



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w.e.f. 4th July 2022, this category is no longer available

Please visit Accredited Employer Work Visa to obtain further information on Working in New Zealand.

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