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  • September 4, 2017

New Rules for Essential Skills Visas

On August 28th Immigration New Zealand enacted new rules for Essential Skills Work Visas. Any applications for an Essential Skills work visa lodged after August 28th will be evaluated under the new regulations.

The key changes are outlined below, however, in the near future we will also have articles on some of the smaller changes being enacted:

Salary Thresholds

From August 28th, any new applications for an Essential Skills work visa will factor in the pay-scale of the applicant when determining the visa which may be granted. Previously Immigration New Zealand would only account for the skill level of the offered job. The new thresholds are as follows:

Pay level ANZSCO Level 1-3 ANZSCO Level 4-5
NZD 35.24 per hour High High
NZD 19.97 per hour –NZD 35.24 per hour Mid Low
Less than NZD 19.97 per hour Low Low

Any applicant granted an Essential Skills visa for a “low” job will not be eligible to sponsor a partner for a partnership-based work visa.

Maximum Limits

Low skilled visas will now be capped at a maximum period of only one year. Further, the visa can only be granted three times in a row.

Mid skill visas may be granted for a maximum of 3 years, but may be granted an unlimited number of times.

High skill visas may be granted for up to 5 years, with no limits on the number of repeats.


Any individual who has spent three years on a low skill Essential Skills visa will be required to spend at least 12 consecutive months out of New Zealand, unless the applicant can attain a mid skill or high skill visa, or transition to a different visa entirely.

If you need help to determine how the new rules will impact your application for an Essential Skills work visa, then make an appointment to talk to our licensed immigration adviser today.



None of the above is intended or offered as personalized immigration advice.

If you require any immigration advice or consultation, please contact our Wellington immigration adviser as soon as possible.

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