Summary of changes for Essential Skills work visas    28/8/2017

The Essential Skills work visa is the most common working visa for migrant workers, this visa allows a person to work in NZ and can allow family to also join you as well. The aim of this visa type is for NZ businesses to be able to fill vacancies where there are no NZers available to work. In many industries there are shortages of certain workers, so migrant workers with qualifications and experience in these industries should be able to get a work visa more easily.

recently changes have been made to encourage higher skilled workers to stay longer and discourage lower skilled workers from staying too long. The determining factor is the new classification of high - mid and low skill levels. The different skill levels have different privileges in the visa system. 

Determining skill level

High skilled: Any occupation paying more than $35.24 per hour

Mid skilled: ANZSCO level 1~3 occupation paying more than $19.97 per hour

Low Skilled: any occupation paying less than $19.97 per hour or any ANZSCO level 4,5 occupation paying less than $35.24 per hour

These skill levels determine how long a visa may be issued for and if you are able to bring your spouse of children to NZ with you. The low skill level occupations also have a stand down period where migrants must leave NZ for 12 months every 3 years. High skill band occupations may be granted a visa of up to 5 years, mid skill bands up to 3 years. There is no stand down and can support visas for spouse and children. Low skill band occupations may not support visas for spouse and children (they must get their own visas if they wish to join you in NZ) and after 3 years of working in NZ you must leave for 12 months before coming back.

Best pathway

The best pathway for migrant workers who wish to stay longer in NZ is to work hard and up-skill so that even if you start on a low paying low skilled job, you can at least get to mid skill before your 3 year limit. if you can get to mid skill criteria you will be able to stay longer and work towards getting residence. This is something that needs a lot of diligent work to achieve.

The new system encourages workers to up-skill and be better. This is better for NZ so if you can become higher skilled, NZ would like you to stay longer. If you are happy to stay in a low skill job, that is fine but you won't be able to stay in NZ for so long.