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Immigration Updates

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Changes the Government announced last year to improve the employer-assisted temporary work visa system are coming into effect from today. We provide an over view of some of the key changes:

Essential Skills work visas – Remuneration and median wage

The combination of ANZSCO and salary to assess skill level is being replaced with a simple remuneration threshold, aligned to the national median wage.

Remuneration will be used to determine the following for an Essential Skills work visa application:

  • Whether an employer needs to engage with The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) in order to meet the labour market test.
  • The maximum duration of the visa.

The way Immigration New Zealand (INZ) calculates pay rates will not change. They will continue to calculate remuneration using an hourly rate. Hours of work are taken as stated in the employment agreement. If employment specifies payment by salary, then the payment per hour is calculated by dividing the annual salary by 52 weeks, followed by the number of hours to be worked each week.  

Find out how INZ calculate the Essential Skills pay rate

ANZSCO codes will still be requested

The ANZSCO occupation will continue to be requested on the Employer Supplementary form as this information plays a very important role for government policy making purposes, such as understanding the makeup of the migrant workforce in New Zealand. It is important that employers continue to choose the ANZSCO code which is the closest match to the job being offered to the migrant worker.

ANZSCO will continue to be used to determine skilled employment as when assessing residence applications under the Skilled Migrant Category. Essential Skills applications which are approved on the basis of remuneration at or above the median wage does not guarantee that the occupation will be considered skilled for the purposes of an SMC application.  

What does this mean for labour market tests?

Below the median wage (currently $25.50 per hour)
Employer needs to engage with MSD and provide a Skills Match Report.
At or above the median wage (currently $25.50 per hour)
Employer does not need to engage with MSD to provide a Skills Match Report, however the employer will continue to need to make genuine attempts to hire New Zealanders, including advertising for the role and considering New Zealanders.

How does this impact visa duration?

Below the median wage

  • The maximum duration of each visa is 6 months for the next 18 months (i.e. from 10 July 2020 – 10 January 2022).
  • The maximum combined duration of all work visas in jobs paying below the median wage is 3 years.
  • After 3 years on work visas in jobs paying below the median wage, the visa holder will be subject to a stand-down period of 12 months.

At or above the median wage

  • The maximum duration of each visa is 3 years.
  • No maximum combined duration, stand-down is not applicable.

Border closure continues to apply 

Any applicant offshore, including family members, will be subject to the border closure and will need to qualify and apply for a border exception.

CLICK HERE to read more about border closure and exceptions


Are you not doing 5 year visas for higher-skilled Essential Skills visas anymore?
No, with the removal of ANZSCO there is no ‘higher-skilled’ bracket – just below median wage and at or above median wage. 

Why is ANZSCO still required for SMC?
The removal of ANZSCO for Essential Skills is part of the wider changes to employer-assisted work visas that are due to come in mid next year. No changes have been made to SMC at this stage.

When will INZ move to use ANZSCO version 1.3?
The move to ANZSCO version 1.3 will occur before the end of 2020.

What happens if at SMC stage the immigration officer decides the ANZSCO code doesn’t match, despite being accepted at work visa stage?
The ANZSCO assessment at SMC stage is separate from any assessment that may have been undertaken with a previous work visa application. The approval of a temporary work visa does not guarantee that a person will meet the requirements under SMC.

Will the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) require ANZSCO for their Skills Match Reports (SMRs)?
You can request a Skills Match Report from MSD without providing ANZSCO information. MSD may refer to ANZSCO to check requirements for particular roles.

Will I be required to list this role formally as one of the ANZSCO job titles, or can I call the role anything I like when I advertise, as long as I’m paying the high salary?
The role can be advertised as you wish, however the closest ANZSCO occupation will need to be indicated on the INZ application forms.

Can I apply now for my worker who only has a one year visa, who is getting paid high salary, so they get a new 3 years visa?
Yes current visa holders are able to apply for a new visa (providing all required documents) and will be assessed against all current criteria at the time of lodgement (including an assessment against the current labour market).  There is no guarantee that a new application will be approved based on the fact that they currently hold a visa.

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