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What is the New Zealand Essential Skills Work Visa?

New Zealand Essential Skills Work Visa is given to foreign nationals who have been offered a full-time paid job. Read more on the purpose of the Essential Skills temporary work visa, who is eligible, and how to apply.

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With a population of just under five million people, New Zealand is highly reliant on foreign skills and labour for its economic growth, perhaps more so than many other countries. Thankfully, there is no lack of skilled migrant workers who are keen to experience the stunning beauty, laid-back nature, and great work opportunities in New Zealand. Every year, thousands of hopeful candidates apply for a visa to Immigration New Zealand in the hope they will be granted permission to live and work in the country. On this page, we will explain the purpose of the Essential Skills temporary work visa, who is eligible, and how to apply.

What Is The NZ Essential Skills Work Visa?

The New Zealand Essential Skills work visa is for foreign nationals who have been offered a full-time paid job. The visa is granted on a temporary basis. It is important to note that applications under this route will cease on 31st October 2021 and will be replaced by the new Accredited Employer Work Visa from 1st November 2021.

What Are The Benefits Of The NZ Essential Skills Work Visa?

NZ Essential Skills Work visa holders are able to:

  • Stay for up to three years in New Zealand
  • Work in New Zealand for an employer
  • Study for up to three months in any 12 month period, or do any study required as part of their employment

The NZ Essential Skills work visa does not automatically include dependant family members (i.e. partner or dependent children), but it may be able to apply separately for suitable visas based on their relationship to the main visa holder.

Am I Eligible For The NZ Essential Skills Work Visa?

There are a number of eligibility rules which must be met in order to acquire an NZ Essential Skills Work visa, as follows:

  • Have a paid full-time job offer from a New Zealand employer
  • Have the qualifications and/or experience required to fulfil the role offered
  • The employer must provide evidence that they have made sufficient efforts to find a suitable candidate in New Zealand and have been unsuccessful.
  • Occupational registration may be needed
  • The pay being offered must match or exceed that given to a New Zealander
  • The job offer can’t be for work planting, maintaining, harvesting, or packing crops in the horticulture or viticulture industries.
  • Be of good health and character
  • Genuinely intend to meet the conditions of the visa

Your visa duration will depend on how much you are paid in New Zealand, as follows:

  • Pay at or above the NZ median wage of $25.50 an hour: three-year stay
  • Pay below the NZ median wage of $25.50 an hour: 12 months stay

How Do I Apply For An NZ Essential Skills Work Visa?

The application process for the NZ Essential Skilled Work visa is completed on the Immigration New Zealand website. The application process is as follows:

Step 1

Gather The Necessary Documents

Once you are offered a full-time role in New Zealand, you will need to request a written employment agreement and an ‘Employer Supplementary Form’ completed by your employer. This must include evidence they made genuine attempts to recruit New Zealanders unless one of the following applies:

  1. your work is in an occupation on an Essential Skills in Demand List
  2. you are applying to continue working in the role you currently hold

If the job offered pays below the median wage, your employer must also engage with Work and Income NZ to obtain a Skills Match Report.

Step 2

Apply For A Work Visa

If applying online, you will then need to upload any documents required to support your case and pay the application fee.

Step 3

Your Application Will Be Assessed And A Decision Made

If NZIS requires any further documents or other evidence, they will let you know. Once your application is processed, you will be notified of the outcome.

Which Documents Will I Need To Submit To Support My NZ Essential Skills Work Visa Application?

You will be advised by NZIS when you apply which documents to upload to support your case. These may include the following:

  • one photo if you apply online
  • passport or certificate of identity.
  • If you are aged 17 or older and plan to stay in New Zealand for more than 24 months (including any time you have already spent in New Zealand), you must provide police certificates from:
    • any country you are a citizen of
    • any country you have spent more than five years in since you turned 17.
  • A chest x-ray, a medical examination or both as proof of your good health.
  • Evidence of your job offer in the form of an employment showing:
    • your employer’s name and contact details (it is essential that your employer is not on the list of non-compliant employers maintained by the Labour Inspectorate)
    • 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.
  • Employer Supplementary Form – explaining the attempts made by your employer to find a suitable candidate in New Zealand (this is not needed if your role type is on the Essential Skills in Demand List). Evidence may include website and newspaper advertisements, records of engaging with a recruitment company, and/or a Skills Match Report from Work and Income New Zealand.

How Much Does It Cost To Apply For An NZ Essential Skills Work Visa?

The current application fee for an NZ Essential Skills work visa is NZD$495; this is not refunded if the application is refused.

What Is The Processing Time For The NZ Essential Skills Work Visa?

At present, NZIS advise that 90% of applications are being processed within 67 days.

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"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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