Changes the Government announced last year to improve the employer assisted temporary work visa system came into effect on 27 July 2020. Until that point, a combination of ANZSCO and salary was used to assess skill level, but this has been replaced with a simple remuneration threshold, aligned to the current national median wage of $25.50 per hour as calculated by Statistics NZ. All applicants will be assessed as either being
Remuneration will be used to determine the following for an Essential Skills work visa application:
For those who earn below the median wage, there are several points to consider. A below-median-wage visa will only be granted for 6 months, with the maximum combined duration of all work visas for jobs paying below the median wage being three years. After that time, the applicant is subject to a stand down period of 12 months before another visa can be applied for in respect of work that pays below the median wage. In addition, those workers earning below the median wage can support their partner for a visitor visa only, not a work visa. However, if the partner wants to work, he/she can apply for a work visa in their own right once they are in New Zealand. Finally, each work visa application for a role paying below the median wage requires the employer to engage with MSD and provide a Skills Match Report.
For those earning above the median wage, work visa may be issued valid for up to 3 years with no stand down period at the end of that 3 years. The employer still needs to satisfy the labour market test by showing they have made genuine efforts to find a local before hiring an overseas worker which could include advertising for the role and considering New Zealanders. Also, unlike the situation for those visa holders earning below the median wage, Essential Skills work visa holders earning at or above the median wage can support work or visitor visas for their partners, and visitor or student visas for dependent children.
It is important to note that if your family are overseas, they will be subject to the border restrictions currently in place. They will need to apply for an exemption from the border closure to come to New Zealand. 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 your partner and dependent children will be granted visas or entry to New Zealand.
This article is intended as a brief overview of the recent changes but this is a complex area and if you require extra clarification on your situation, either as an employer or applicant, our team of experienced immigration lawyers at Wakefields Lawyers will be happy to take the time to guide you through the application process.