Changes to New Zealand Essential Skills Work Visas
August 9, 2017
The New Zealand Government has confirmed changes to the Essential Skills Work Visa that were announced in April, 2017. A consultation process has been completed and policy changes have been amended slightly from the original proposal.
The changes are designed to continue to enable employers to hire temporary migrant workers where there are genuine shortages, while ensuring that lower-skilled migrants are clear about their future prospects in New Zealand.
The new regulations will be effective from August 28, 2017.
The following modifications have been included:
Remuneration bands to assess skill levels of roles offered to Essential Skills Visa applicants. All Essential Skills Visa applications will be divided into three groups, as outlined below.
A maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled Essential Skills Visa holders, after which they will need to spend 12 months outside New Zealand before they can be granted an Essential Skills Visa to work in another lower-skilled role.
Partners and children of lower-skilled Essential Skills Work Visa holders must meet the requirements for a visa in their own right, but they will still have access to short-term visitor visas.
The remuneration bands are as follows:
Higher-skilled: Any Essential Skills Work Visa holder earning above 1.5 times the New Zealand median full-time income, currently NZ$ 73,299 per year, regardless of their occupation.
Mid-skilled: Any Essential Skills Work Visa holder earning above 85 percent of the New Zealand median full-time income, currently NZ$ 41,538 per year, and less than the salary threshold for a higher-skilled worker, in an occupation classified as Australia New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) Level 1-3 only.
Lower-skilled: Any Essential Skills Work Visa holder earning below the mid-skilled remuneration threshold, currently NZ$ 41,538 per year as detailed above.
The changes mean that overseas workers who are in an occupation classified as ANZSCO level 4-5 will remain classified as lower-skilled, unless they earn above one and a half times the New Zealand median full-time wage, currently NZ$ 73,299 per year.
It is important to note that the change will not be applied retrospectively for lower-skilled Essential Skills workers already in New Zealand. The three-year maximum duration will start from the date their next lower-skilled Essential Skills Work Visa is granted after the introduction of the changes to the Essential Skills policy.
The same would apply for family members already in New Zealand. They will be able to remain in the country for the duration that the Essential Skills Work Visa holder remains legally in New Zealand.
Detailed information about the application of these policy changes will be available from Immigration New Zealand within the next fortnight. Crown will continue to keep our clients updated as more information becomes available.