Areas of expertise

On 16 July 2021 Immigration New Zealand (INZ) announced three important changes to temporary work visas.

1. Longer visas for employees paid below the median wage

From 19 July 2021, individuals paid below the median wage can apply for 24-month Essential Skills Work Visas (ESWVs).

The maximum duration of ESWVs paid at or above the median wage will remain at 36 months.

2. Simplified application process for ESWVs

Individuals applying for ESWVs to continue in the same role and location will not need to provide:

  • An employment contract or job description.
  • Medicals or police checks, if supplied with a previous application.
  • Documents to show they have the qualifications or experience to do the job.
  • Labour market test evidence i.e.. advertising and an employer supplementary form.

This option is open to migrants on any type of work visa, for example critical purpose, specific purpose or partnership.

Importantly, these applications will need to be made using the old paper forms, until the online portal is updated on 30 August 2021.

3. Mandatory accreditation scheme deferred

The new mandatory accreditation scheme, previously planned for 1 November 2021, will be deferred until mid-2022. This announcement comes very shortly after INZ released its confirmed timeline for implementation.

Despite this deferral, current guidance suggests that existing work to residence categories for first-time applicants will still be closing, on 31 October 2021. This will be disappointing news for many.

Our thoughts

These changes are largely positive and will make it easier for employers to retain current employees on ESWVs while the borders remain closed, due to COVID-19.

The mandatory accreditation deferral may be disappointing news for accredited employers wanting to support new employees for work to residence visas, between 1 November 2021 and mid-2022. This is particularly the case for high income earners ($112,320+) who will still enjoy a work to residence pathway under the new framework.

These updates will be in place, until mid-2022.