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NEW ZEALAND - Updated Salary Thresholds for Essential Skills Visa

Effective 15 January 2018, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has increased the remuneration thresholds which affect how long Essential Skills visa applicants can stay and whether their families can stay too.

The change does not affect existing Essential Skills visa holders, or applications which were pending on 15 January 2018.

The remuneration bands, which also affect the Skilled Migrant Category, were first implemented on 28 August 2017, are indexed against the New Zealand median income and are updated at the end of each calendar year. This year, the change was delayed until mid-January to give employers and migrants enough time to adjust to the new remuneration bands.

How do the remuneration bands affect work visa duration and dependent sponsorship?

  • Essential skills visa applicants earning less than NZD 20.65 per hour (previously NZD 19.97 per hour) will only be eligible for a 12-month work visa, regardless of the skill level of the job. After three work visas (three years in New Zealand), these applicants must leave New Zealand for at least 12 months. They may not support a partner or dependent children to stay in New Zealand.
  • Applicants earning between NZD 20.65 per hour and NZD 36.44 per hour (previously NZD 19.97 per hour and NZD 35.24 per hour) and in ANZSCO skill level 4 or 5 jobs will also only be able to obtain 12-month work visas. After three years, these applicants must also leave New Zealand for at least 12 months, and they may not support a partner or dependent children to stay in New Zealand.
  • Applicants earning between NZD 20.65 per hour and NZD 36.44 per hour (previously NZD 19.97 per hour and NZD 35.24 per hour) and in ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 or 3 jobs will still be able to obtain three-year work visas. They will be able to renew the visas every three years (without leaving New Zealand for 12 months), and they may support a partner or dependent children to stay in New Zealand.
  • An applicant earning more than NZD 36.44 per hour (previously NZD 35.24 per hour) will be able to obtain a five-year, renewable Essential Skills work visa and support a partner or dependent children to stay in New Zealand, regardless of the ANZSCO level of his or her job.

Action Items

  • Employers intending to sponsor foreign nationals for Essential Skills visas should check whether the threshold increase affects how long applicants can stay and whether their families can stay too.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by Cavell Leitch and Woburn International.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.