Essential Skills work visa requirements

Over the last few weeks there have been a number of changes to temporary entry policy. Currently, when applying for an Essential Skills work visa the rate of pay offered will determine the duration of the visa, the labour market test requirements and whether or not the Essential Skills work visa holder can support their partner and children for visas. The table below summarises the current requirements.

Some other key points:

  • All Essential Skills work visas will be issued for six months or three years. It is no longer possible to be issued a five year Essential Skills work visa.
  • ANZSCO will still be used to determine whether or not the visa applicant is suitably qualified or experienced to do the job.
  • The New Zealand borders are still closed and INZ is not processing any visa applications for those outside of New Zealand.

If you would like assistance with a temporary visa, contact us today –

Essential Skills work visas have changed

Immigration New Zealand has changed the way in which they assess Essential Skills work visas.

If you earn $25.50/hour or more:

  • You may be eligible to apply for a three year work visa
  • You may be able to support your partner for an open work visa or a visitor visa
  • You may be able to support your dependent children for a student or visitor visa
  • Your employer will not need to liaise with Work & Income

If you earn less than $25.50/hour:

  • You will only be eligible to apply for a six month work visa
  • You will only be able to support your partner for a visitor visa
  • You may be able to support your dependent children for a student or visitor visa
  • Your employer must liaise with Work & Income

Work visa policy changes

Immigration New Zealand announced several key work visa changes yesterday.

  1. Automatic extension of some work visas: Those in New Zealand holding an employer assisted work visa (including an Essential Skills work visa) on 10 July 2020 which is due to expire before 31 December 2020 will have their visa automatically extended by 6 months.
  2. Duration of lower skilled work visas reduced: The duration of new lower skilled/lower paid Essential Skills work visas will be reduced to 6 months from 10 July 2020.
  3. Remuneration used to assess work visas: From 27 July 2020 Immigration New Zealand will no longer rely on ANZSCO to assess work visa applications. From 27 July 2020 Immigration New Zealand will use a remuneration threshold ($25.50/hour) to determine whether a Skills Match Report is required for a work visa and to determine the duration of the work visa.

COVID-19 Update 2


  • Healthcare sector: Student visa holders who were employed in an essential healthcare worker role on 3 April 2020 will now be able to work more than 20 hours per week up to 3 July 2020.
  • Visa processing: INZ has closed all of its offices. It has ceased processing nearly all visa applications. The Skilled Migrant and Parent Expression of Interest (EOI) pool draws have been suspended until further notice. The only visas that are currently being processed are those relating to essential workers, essential healthcare workers and requests for urgent travel.
  • Border closure: The New Zealand border remains closed. There are only a few limited exceptions to this. The Government has indicated that it is likely the border will remain closed for some time. Today the Government announced that anyone arriving in New Zealand from midnight tonight will face mandatory quarantine.
  • Financial assistance: The COVID-19 wage subsidy is available to anyone legally working in New Zealand. This includes work visa holders in New Zealand. If you are currently in New Zealand but not employed and require financial assistance, you should contact your embassy or consulate.

COVID-19 update

A lot has been happening with immigration over the last week or so. Here are a few of the most important changes:

– BORDER CLOSURE – The New Zealand border is closed to most travellers from overseas. There are only a few limited exceptions to this. All arrivals from overseas must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

– EXTENSION OF VISAS – If you are currently in New Zealand and hold a temporary visa (work, student, visitor, interim, limited) that expires between 2 April and 9 July 2020, your visa will be automatically extended to 25 September 2020. You will be sent an email directly about this if you are affected.

– INZ OFFICES CLOSED – All INZ offices are closed. This means that lengthy delays can be expected with any applications that are currently pending with INZ.

– SUPERMARKET EMPLOYEES – Visa conditions for certain student and work visa holders have been relaxed. Student and work visa holders who were employees of Woolworths or Foodstuffs on 23 March will be able to do any role, for as many hours as required for their employer from 25 March to 25 April 2020.

All of the latest INZ and COVID-19 information is available on the INZ website.

Take care everyone.

New requirements for assessing temporary partnership applications

Immigration New Zealand has recently announced they will change the way they assess temporary partnership applications. They have provided updated advice on how Immigration Officers should assess temporary applications when the couple has not lived together. You can read the Immigration New Zealand advice here.

Supervision in the Immigration Advice Industry

Interested to know how the current immigration adviser supervision regime is working? Check out my article here.

New version of ANZSCO released

As a result of ANZSCO being updated, some occupations are now going to be recognised as being skilled as exceptions. The occupations recognised as an exception include Personal Care Assistant/Caregiver, Teacher’s Aide, Bookkeeper, Crane Operator and Construction Rigger. This will enable some people to apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant category who were not previously eligible. It will also enable some people to apply for a mid-skilled Essential Skills work visa, rather than a low-skilled work visa. If you earn $25 per hour or more and are working in the one of the occupations now recognised as being skilled as an exception, you may be able to apply for residence now ! Contact us today to find out more –

Parent category to re-open in February 2020

From February 2020 it will be possible to lodge an Expression of Interest for the Parent category. There will only be 1000 places available each year and sponsors must meet specified financial requirements. One sponsor wishing to sponsor one parent must earn at least $106,080pa. One sponsor and their partner wishing to sponsor one parent must earn at least $159,120pa. The sponsor will need to provide IRD tax statements as proof of their income and they must meet the income requirement in two out of the three years before the visa application is lodged. Read more here.

Talent (Accredited Employer) work visa remuneration threshold to increase

From 7 October 2019 the remuneration threshold for the Talent (Accredited Employer) work visa will increase significantly. The current threshold is $55,000pa. From 7 October this will increase to $79,560pa.

You can read more about the change on the Immigration New Zealand website.