Immigration New Zealand – Maximising the opportunities for New Zealand workers

26 Aug 20

Immigration New Zealand has made it clear that one of its current priorities is to maximise the opportunities New Zealand workers have to access the job market. Many employers have found they cannot necessarily expect that an experienced migrant worker they currently employ will be issued with a new visa simply because they have performed the job well. Employers are being required to provide evidence of the steps they have taken to recruit and train a New Zealand worker for a position before the position can be offered to a migrant worker.


One of the key changes which came into force on 27 July affects workers applying for essential skills visas. Rather than using a combination of the ANSCO skill level and salary to assess if a position is low, mid, or high skilled, the assessment is now made on whether the person will be paid at or above the median New Zealand wage (currently $25.50 an hour), or below.


Paying at or above the median wage has some advantages. The visa has a duration of up to three years; there is no limit to the number of essential skills visas the worker can apply for or on the total time the worker can spend in New Zealand on those visas. Workers earning below the median wage however may be granted a visa for six months at a time, with a maximum duration of three years followed by a 12 month stand down. Paying at or above the median wage can however be prohibitive, especially given the seasonal nature of work in the rural sector.


The domestic employment market has been fundamentally changed by COVID-19, and we will be feeling the effects for some time. Immigration New Zealand is releasing regular updates about the legislative changes, and it is attending to the feedback provided by various advocacy groups. Things can change quickly so it is important to keep in touch, check their
website, and take advice on any specific queries.

For more information contact:

Fiona McMillan

fiona.mcmillan@al.nz