Immigration New Zealand has decided to apply some new changes to the Essential Skills visas, from July 27, including the use of a median wage threshold to see how long can Essential Skills visa holders stay in NZ and their options to support family.

According to the INZ agency, from now on the median-wage threshold will be applied as an indicator of skill. The current system uses the New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations ANZSCO skill level and the salary to assess if someone is low, mid or high skilled, VisaGuide.World reports.

From July 27, applicants will be “classified” either at or above the median wage or below the median wage using the hourly rate of $25.50.

These changes will include all persons who apply or reapply for an Essential Skills visa from July 27.

Applicants who earn less than the median wage are eligible to support their partner for a visitor visa only, not a work visa and support visitor or student visas for dependent children since they meet the current income threshold of $43,322.76.

Changes Will Also Be Applied in Duration of Essential Skills Visas

According to the notification, a five-year visa granted for higher-skilled jobs will no longer be functionalized. Persons earning at or above the median wage will be eligible to obtain a visa for three years.

If the earnings are considered below the median wage, persons can be granted a visa for six months, if they apply between July 10, 2020, and January 10, 2022.

Visa-holders will be subject to a stand-down period id they have been in New Zealand for 3 years on an Essential Skills visa for work:

  • assessed as lower-skilled if you apply before July 27, 2020
  • that pays below the median wage if you apply from July 27, 2020

The stand-down will be applied even if persons spend time in New Zealand on another visa or if they are waiting for Immigration New Zealand to process a Skilled Migrant Visa application.

New changes will also be applied for employers on their recruiting process.

Employers will need to provide Skills Match Reports (SMR) if the role they are recruiting for is paid below median wage jobs.

Employers hiring someone at or above the median wage will need to show they have made genuine attempts to hire New Zealanders. Expressions of interest remain suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic situation.