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NEW ZEALAND – Changes to Labour Market Testing Requirements for Essential Skills Work Visa

Effective 11 April 2016, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) changed the documents required, as proof of labour market testing, for an Essential Skills work visa application for a low-skilled job.

The employer must now attach a Skills Match Report (SMR) from Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) to their Employer Supplementary Form, to demonstrate a genuine attempt to advertise the job to New Zealanders.

When is the Skills Match Report Required?

  • INZ uses the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) to decide what is a low-skilled job.Jobs that are ranked at levels 4 or 5 on the ANZSCO are considered to be low-skilled. This includes labourers, truck drivers, carers for the elderly, industrial spray-painters, waiters, and hotel housekeepers.
  • Before applying for an initial or renewal Essential Skills work visa, the employer must ascertain whether the job is at level 4 or 5 on the ANZSCO list by checking the ANZSCO website.
  • If the job is at level 4 or 5, then the employer must work with WINZ to check that there are no New Zealanders who could do the job before an employee applies for a work visa.
  • If there are no suitable New Zealanders, then WINZ will issue an SMR for the employer to give to the applicant to submit with his or her work visa application.
  • If there are suitable New Zealanders, then the employee may not be eligible for a work visa.


The only exceptions are for Canterbury jobs, where the employer needs to work with the Canterbury Skills and Employment Hub, or where the job is included in one of the skill shortage lists and the employee meets the experience or qualification requirements on the list.

Action Items

  • Employers applying for an Essential Skills work visa must ensure they obtain a Skills Match Report from Work and Income New Zealand in support of the application, unless the job is in Canterbury, or is otherwise exempt.

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

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 © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.