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Have You Considered The New Zealand Essential Skills Work Visa?

New Zealand has been in hot demand for migrants and their families looking for a new place to live, and for those seeking work opportunities. The opportunities available in New Zealand are considerable. The economy is booming, meaning that the volume of well-paid job vacancies on offer in a range of sectors is high. In the words of the New Zealand immigration service, “While growth in both the economy and jobs is forecast to slow a little after 2021, the government still expects the workforce will grow at 1.8% annually - meaning New Zealand will continue to need about 47,000 more workers a year into the near future. The majority of these jobs will be in highly skilled occupations, and it’s expected most will have to be filled by people coming to New Zealand from overseas”.

In this article, we will take a look at one of the work visas available in New Zealand; the Essential Skills Work Visa, including the conditions which apply, the eligibility criteria, and how to apply.

What Is The New Zealand Essential Skills Work Visa?

The New Zealand Essential Skills work visa is for temporary workers who have been offered a full-time job. The visa is restricted only to the specific occupation, employer, and location stated in your application. Visa holders can also study for up to six months in any 12-month period. Under this scheme, visa holders can stay for up to three years, however, this depends on:

  • how long you have been offered employment for
  • how much you earn
  • if you applied before, or on or after 27 July 2020
  • whether your employer is an accredited labour-hire company

For those who apply on or after 27 July 2020, the maximum Essential Skilled work visa duration is three years if the pay being offered is at or above the New Zealand median wage of NZ$25.50 per hour. If less, the maximum duration of the visa is only six months.

In terms of bringing family dependants to New Zealand, partners and children will need to apply separately for visas based on their relationship to the main applicant.

Am I Eligible For The New Zealand Essential Skills Work Visa?

Before applying for the New Zealand Essential Skilled work visa, it is recommended that you review the full set of criteria to determine if you are eligible. The New Zealand immigration service website provides a list of criteria based on your nationality and location when you will be applying. The main criteria you will need to meet are as follows:

  • You must have an offer of full-time work in New Zealand
  • The job you have been offered must be at or above the median wage in the country
  • Your job offer can’t be for planting, maintaining, harvesting or packing crops in the horticulture or viticulture industries.
  • You must be qualified and/or experienced to do the work for which you have an offer – you may need to provide copies of your qualifications and an outline of your work experience, including details of previous employers.
  • If a labour-hire company has offered you work in the construction sector in Canterbury, the labour-hire company must be accredited.
  • Your dependent children can apply for visas to study in New Zealand if you will be earning at least NZ$43,322.76.
  • Your employer must have a track history of compliance with immigration law – the Labour Inspectorate keeps a list of businesses which do not comply, hence you should ensure your prospective employer is not on this list.
  • Your employer must have carried out the required checks to ensure no New Zealander is available who could do the job you have been offered. You will need to provide an ‘Employer Supplementary Form’ which your employer will need to complete, outlining the work you have been offered. They also need to provide evidence of the attempts they have made to recruit domestically (e.g. copies of job adverts). This will not be needed, however, if:
    • the job is on the Essential Skills in Demand List and you meet the qualification and work experience requirements listed for your occupation.
    • You are applying to continue working in the role you currently hold and have been invited to apply, or have applied, for a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa based on your current employment.

When applying, you will need to provide a copy of your employment contract, providing the following details:

  • your employer’s name and contact details
  • your name and contact details
  • your job title
  • the address for your place of work
  • the kind of work you’ll be doing and your responsibilities at work
  • details of any necessary qualifications or work experience
  • information about whether you’ll need New Zealand registration to do the work
  • how long the work will be for
  • how long you have to take up the job offer
  • pay and work conditions that comply with New Zealand employment law.

What Are The Application Costs And Processing Times?

The current online application fee is NZ$495, and 90% of applications are processed within four months. Due to the COVID-19 New Zealand border closure, applicants should be aware that New Zealand immigration has suspended the processing of applications for temporary visas from outside of New Zealand, except for those who are exempt. Exempt applicants are those who are applying for:

  • relationship-based visas for partners and dependent children of New Zealand citizens and residents
  • visas for diplomatic, consular and official staff and accompanying dependants
  • Antarctic Traveller Visitor visas and Antarctic Work visas
  • Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Limited visas.

Wrapping Up

The Essential Skills Work visa offers a great opportunity to travel to and work in New Zealand for up to three years, as long as you have a job offer, the pay you are being offered meets the median salary, and you have the qualifications and/or experience for the role. The relatively low cost and fast processing time of the visa make it an attractive option for migrants who are looking to work in New Zealand in a skilled role.

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