Essential Skills Work Visa
This category closes mid-2022 for new applications. It will be replaced by the new 'Accredited Employer Work Visa'.
This the most common option where the employer does not have accreditation and wants to support a foreign worker for a visa. For this to be granted, an employer must be able to prove that demand for the role could not be met through local labour market (called ‘Labour Market Testing’). In some instances, a labour market test will not be required. This includes the occupation which is included in the ‘Essential Skills in Demand’ lists (as long as you meet the specific requirements of these lists).
o This category has undergone a substantial change mid-2020, notably, the duration of the visa is tied into median wage.
o In October 2020, INZ introduced oversupply and undersupply lists. Essential Skills Work Visas cannot be submitted for roles that have an oversupply of New Zealanders.
For many roles, the assessment of this category can become very complex with multiple policy layers to be considered. ANZSCO (Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations) still plays a vital role in the process; where an immigration officer compares the duties of the role offered to the closest match in ANZSCO and must be satisfied of a ‘substantial match’ – a contentious yet important exercise. This evaluation goes on to influence the market rate and the advertising process as a whole. With so many subtle nuances at play, Essential Skills requires clear presentation and grasp of policy to maximise chances of a timely approval.
o On 16th of July, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced a number of policy updates and changes.
If an applicant is being paid below the NZ median wage of $27/hour, the maximum duration of the visa has been increased from 12 months to 24 months. This two year visa is expected to provide certainty to at least 18,000 visa holders. A large number of these workers are employed in the Services sector, specifically in the tourism, hospitality and retail industries.
Employers won’t be required to complete a labour market test where a worker is applying for a visa for a full time role that the worker already holds. These applicants won’t need to provide Employment agreements, medical and police certificates to Immigration New Zealand, if that information has been supplied previously. This will impact approximately 57,000 skilled workers on visas.
The duration of Essential Skills work visas for roles paid the median wage ($27/hour) or above will still be up to three years.
Employers will need to undertake a Labour Market Check for any roles that have been vacant or where the worker will change the region of work.
The fee for the two year Essential Skills Work Visa remains at $440 + an Immigration Levy of $55, a total of $495. INZ is encouraging employers to meet this cost.
The format for the Skills Match Report is updated by Ministry of Social Development and is available from 19th July 2021.