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Work Visa Recent Changes

Essential Skills work visas

Remuneration and median wage

The test to assess skill level for work visa, determined according to ANZSCO has been replaced with remuneration threshold, calculated by Statistics NZ. Although, the way INZ calculates pay rate will not change. They will continue to calculate remuneration using an hourly rate. For example; the payment per hour is calculated by dividing the annual salary by 52 weeks, followed by the number of hours to be worked each week.

Remuneration will be used to determine the following for an Essential Skills work visa application:

  1. Whether an employer needs to engage with The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) in order to meet the labour market test

  2. The maximum duration of the visa

  3. Whether the person holding the visa can support a partnership-based work visa to bring family with them to New Zealand. However, anyone offshore will be subject to the border restrictions currently in place.

Essential Skills applications which are approved based on remuneration at or above the median wage does not guarantee that the occupation will be considered skilled for the purposes of a SMC application. ANZSCO will continue to be used to determine skilled employment as when assessing residence applications under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC). The ANZSCO occupation will continue to use Employer Supplementary form.

Selecting the right ANZSCO code

The employers must also continue to choose the ANZSCO code because it is the closest match to the job being offered to the migrant worker.

Where an employer has selected an ANZSCO code that requires a higher level of experience or qualification than what the employer has advertised, an Immigration Officer will make a determination if the ANZSCO code selected is a suitable match.

• If the ANZSCO code selected is a suitable match, then the applicant’s suitability will be determined by the requirements outlined in ANZSCO.

• If the ANZSCO code selected by the employer is not a suitable match, the applicant’s suitability will be determined by the ANZSCO code identified by the Immigration Officer.

The employer will be asked to provide an explanation, if they have advertised a role with a higher level of experience or qualification than is required by ANZSCO code indicator.

Supporting partners and dependents

Essential Skills work visa holders earning below the median wage, can also support visitor visa or student visas for their dependent children. They, can also support their partners on visitor visas, not work visas. Their partner can only apply for work visa after they have arrived in New Zealand on a visitor visa.

Essential Skills work visa holders earning at or above the median wage can support work or visitor visas for partners, and visitor or student visas for dependent children.

The duration of the visa and labour market test will also depend on whether the individual have pay-rate that’s above or below the national median wage.

Note that any partners and dependents who are offshore will be subject to the border restrictions currently in place. All partners and dependents of any Essential Skills work visa holder must meet immigration requirements such as health and character: holding an Essential Skills work visa is not a guarantee that partners and dependents will be granted visas or entry to New Zealand.

Appendix 7 – Changes in occupations treated as exceptions under the residence Skilled Migrant Category

Occupations such as Aged or Disabled Carer, Nursing Support Worker; Driller and Bicycle Mechanic will be updated on occupations that can be treated as an exception to certain skill level assessments for SMC residence policy, in 27 July 2020

This list of occupations is provided in Appendix 7 of the INZ Operational Manual. From 27 July 2020 this list will not be used to assess Essential Skills temporary work applications.

SMC applications must be assessed against the immigration instructions in place at the time the application is made.

Some applications already received by INZ cannot be assessed against increased skill levels for some occupations in ANZSCO 1.3 (Appendix 7) because the applications were submitted before the changes were made.

If those applications are declined, the applicant has the choice to lodge a further expression of interest, and if invited to apply, then their application would be considered against current instructions.


Rahisha Bhattarai

Student Legal Officer

Legal Associates

31 East Tamaki Road, 

Level 1, Papatoetoe, Auckland 2025

Tel: 09 279 9439 | Fax: 09 279 9419

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