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15 July 2020

Criteria for New-Look Work Visa Confirmed

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has now confirmed the criteria that will accompany the move, come 27 July, to an assessment of skill level for Essential Skills work visas being based on remuneration alone.


It had already been confirmed that from 27 July, a pay rate of $25.50 (being the current median wage in New Zealand) or more would allow for the grant of a longer visa regardless of the duties carried out.


Further clarity has now been released as follows:


  • The advertising requirements will follow the existing model whereby positions offering a pay rate below the median wage will need to be advertised through MSD and a Skills Match report provided. Those at or above the median wage will need to make genuine attempts to recruit New Zealanders but are not obliged to engage MSD as part of that process.
  • Those with an offer of employment for a role below the median wage will only be eligible for a visa of 6 months duration, with a maximum combined period of visas in jobs offering below the median wage of 3 years (as per the existing stand down policy). Those with an offer of employment for a role offering the median wage or higher, will be eligible for a 3 year visa. It appears there will no longer be a option to secure a 5 year visa.
  • It will still be important to note the most appropriate ANZSCO code on work visa applications, to allow INZ to determine if an individual is being paid in line with market rates for that type of role, and to allow INZ to determine if an individual is appropriately experienced or qualified for the role being offered. Applicants will therefore still need to show their qualifications and experience pertinent to the role, when applying.
  • Those earning below the median wage will be ineligible to support partners for a work visa but they will be able to support partners for a visitor visa where previously this was not possible. They will also be able to support their dependent children for visitor or student visas.


A visual graphic of how the pay rate affects the criteria is below:


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Effect on Skilled Migrant Policy


It is important to note that the policy for the Skilled Migrant residence category remains unchanged. In order to received skilled employment points, it will still be necessary to be in a skill level 1-3 role, be in an Appendix 7 role, or meet the higher income threshold.


Regarding Appendix 7, it will no longer be relevant for Essential Skills policy but remains relevant for the Skilled Migrant residence category, and INZ have confirmed that the following positions have now also been added to that list: Aged or Disabled Carer; Nursing Support Worker; Driller; and Bicycle Mechanic.


This removes any possible concerns that existed about there being a distinction between the Personal Care Assistant role and the Aged or Disabled Carer role, which is welcome news.


This policy should provide far greater certainty around the eligibility for a 3 year visa and to support partners for work visas but as always, the Immigration team at Saunders & Co are here to provide any further assistance that may be needed in navigating through the process of applying for and securing an Essential Skills, or any other class or category of, visa.


If you need personalised advice on the above, or any other immigration issue, please contact our Immigration team