Background

Immigration New Zealand have made changes to the essential skills work visa category to target highly-skilled applicants to New Zealand and to limit lower skilled applicants from becoming well-settled in New Zealand. 

The approach the government is taking is a 2-phased approach.  The second phase is due to re-evaluate Accredited Employers and those employers who have “Approval In Principle” to employ staff during peak or seasonal highs.This is to be finalised in December 2018.

Essential Skills Work Visas Changes

The three-remuneration bands are targeted at (highly skilled, mid-skilled and lower skills) jobs.

1. Highly skilled applicants

a. These are applicants who earn in excess of $35.24 p/hour
b. The government recognises that ANZSCO skill levels are not aligned correctly and have amended this.
      • The rate is applicable to any ANZSCO level (levels 1-5).
c. The Visa can be issued up to 5 years (at INZ’s discretion)
      • Applicants can apply to renew the visa as many times as they like.
d. Family members (partners and dependent children) have no restrictions placed on them. 
      • Partners can apply for work visas.
      • Dependent children (aged 5-18) can attend school as Domestic students.
e. These applicants are covered by the New Zealand public health system.

2. Mid-skilled applicants

a. These applicants earn above $19.97 p/hour and below $35.24 p/hour
b. The hourly rate is applicable to ANZSCO skill level 1-3 only.
c. The Visa can be issued up to 3 years (at INZ’s discretion)
      • Applicants can apply to renew the visa as many times as they like.
d. Family members (partners and dependent children) have no restrictions placed on them. 
      • Partners can apply for work visas.
      • Dependent children (aged 5-18) can attend school as domestic students.
e. These applicants are covered by the New Zealand public health system.

3. Low-skilled applicants(most affected)

This is further split into two groups

i. Applicants earning less than $19.97 p/hour on ANZSCO levels 1-3

a. Applicants will only be issued with a one-year work visa.
b. Applicants are allowed to apply for further visas, for a maximum of 3 years. Esentially 3 work visas in total.
c. There is a one-year stand down period, where the applicant must leave New Zealand.
d. Family members (partners and dependent children) are not supported by the main applicant.
e. Family members can to apply for any type of visa in their own right. 
f. The applicant is not covered by the New Zealand public health system and must carry their own health insurance.

ii. Applicants earning less than $35.24 p/hour on ANZSCO levels 4-5


a. Applicants will only be issued with a one-year work visa.
b. Applicants are allowed to apply for further visas for a maximum of 3 years. Esentially 3 work visas in total.
c. There is a one-year stand down period, where the applicant must leave New Zealand.
d. Family members (partners and dependent children) are not supported by the main applicant.
e. Family members can to apply for any type of visa in their own right. 
f. The applicant is not covered by the New Zealand public health system and must carry their own health insurance.

If you have concerns on your current work visa status or would like to talk to us about your pathway to residence, feel free to contact us.


Vanita Hurbuns (Licence Number 201503552)
A2 NZ Immigration LTD
P: +64 9 414 6308
M: +64 27 4214 153
E: vanita@immigratenz.net
W: www.immigratenz.net
Skype: Vanita.Hurbuns1