While current Essential Skills visas will not be extended, the Minister of Immigration has increased the duration of new Essential Skills visas for those who are paid below the median wage, from 6 months to 12 months. This change applies to all visas granted on and after 10 June 2021, even in cases where the application was made before the Minister of Immigration’s announcement.
From 19 July 2021, Essential Skills visa applications will be assessed using the median hourly wage of NZD$27.00, replacing the current rate of $25.50. This increase is in line with the 2020 Statistics New Zealand median wage.
The stand-down period for Essential Skills visa holders who are paid below the median wage will be further postponed until 30 June 2022. The stand-down period would otherwise require them to leave New Zealand for 12 months after holding an Essential Skills visa for three years (four years for healthcare workers) before they can apply for a new Essential Skills visa for lower-paid work.
It will continue to be a requirement that Essential Skills visa holders are given and paid for at least 30 hours of work per week. You will still need to prove you have been genuinely unsuccessful at attracting a New Zealander into the role before offering it to a temporary migrant. You can find out if New Zealanders are available for a role by getting a Skills Match Report.