Essential Skills Work Visa

A perfect match for skilled employees

Arguably the most sought after type work visa, New Zealand Essential Skills Work Visa is for skilled professionals, qualified by training or experience, whose remuneration meets a certain threshold and whose employer has genuinely and unsuccessfully tried to fill the position with locals through advertising in media or seeking help from Work and Income, the government agency responsible for aiding people in their job search. 

The complexity of the application routine warrants scrupulous attention to detail, as one has to take into account multiple factors. Out expert advice is just one mouse click away – do not disparage the importance of making it right from the outset, book your free consultation with immigration professionals now. 

What can you do on a ESWV?

Essential Skills Work Visas will usually allow their holders to work for a specific employer, at a certain position and at a certain place. If any of these conditions are to change, the visa holder should either apply for a variation of conditions, or a new work visa.

Essential Skills Work Visa uses a 2-tier system based on the pay level

There are 2 tiers currently in use by INZ to assess the skills of an applicant. The demarcation line between the two is drawn at the current New Zealand median wage ($25.5 per hour), so there are those paid at or above the wage, and those paid below.

How will the pay rate be calculated if I get an annual salary?

Immigration New Zealand will use hours of work as set out in the employment agreement. If salary-based, the annual salary will be divided by 52 weeks and subsequently by the number of hours worked each week. 

E.g. $54000 (annual salary) ÷ 52 (weeks) ÷ 40 (hours worked per week) = $25.96 / hour

What difference does it make to me, whether I am paid at or above, or below the median wage?

The effect the remuneration has on the visa is multiple, though it doesn’t not make your prospective visa either superior or inferior.

  • To start with, the duration of the Work Visa will depend on the pay. 
  • Secondly, a stand-down period will apply to those paid below the median. 
  • Thirdly, the type of visa your family may get also depends on your salary.
Paid at or above $25.5Paid below $25.5
Maximum duration currently
3 years

6 months
Maximum duration from 10/01/22
3 years

12 months
Stand-down period*N/AAfter maximum of 3 years on a work visa, a stand-down period of 12 consecutive months will apply.
*- stand-down period for workers who had their work visa extended and who would otherwise be subject to it before 31 December 2020 is delayed for 6 months in line with the visa extension. If your stand-down period comes into effect from February 2021, normal conditions apply (12 months)

What about my family? Will they be able to join me?

Visas for family
You are…Paid at or above $25.5Paid below $25.5
PartnersWork or Visitor visaVisitor Visa
ChildrenStudent or Visitor visaStudent or Visitor visa

How to qualify for an Essential Skills Work Visa?

  • just as with all New Zealand visas, health and character, bona fide and other requirements standard for temporary class visas should be abided by and are not to be overlooked;
  • a mandatory requirement for those eligible is that they are qualified in a suitable way, whether by training, experience, or a combination of both;
  • your employer must have left no stone unturned in their attempts to recruit New Zealanders to fill the position. This included advertising for the vacancy on such internet resources as seek.co.nz and others, and major newspapers. For certain jobs local advertising may be acceptable.
  • generally, for all lower-paid positions the employer will be obligated to meet the labour market test, and to that end to liaise with the Ministry of Social Development to see if they have any suitable candidates. This will result in what is known as a Skills Match Report, and which the employer will need to provide.
  • your employer must have a good reputation as a law-abiding company, that is to demonstrate a history of compliance with New Zealand employment and immigration legislation.
  • the job offer must be genuine, the employment must be likely to continue and be full-time.
  • the remuneration offered must be at the market rate for the occupation and do not exceed, or fall short of it by a large margin.

Your employer’s role is pivotal

It is your future boss who would need to stand by you, provide clarification of your prospective job duties, if required, and attest to your skills that match them best. The employers, whose role can hardly be overestimated, will also need to complete paperwork in support of your application and interact with INZ and, if needed, with Work and Income.

Your application for ESWV must be supported by

  • an offer of employment meeting the requirements (as listed above);
  • Employer Supplementary Form completed by the employer.

At New Shores Migration we pride ourselves on providing ongoing support to essential skills work visa applicants by clarifying to their employers what they should do to secure the desired skilled staff for their company. You can book your free 30-minute consultation today to talk to us about your demands and we will get back to you with our estimate of your chances for a successful outcome.