The next stage of work visa changes are here: what’s happening?

From 27 July 2020 the next phase of changes for the new Employer Assisted Temporary Work Visa System will come into effect.

The most significant change relates to the new assessment method of the skill level for Essential Skills Work Visas.  The new assessment model will see the removal of ANZSCO and be based only on remuneration.  But, the remuneration threshold has been increased significantly to the median wage, currently $25.50 per hour.  Any application with an hourly rate at $25.50 per hour or more will be issued with a 3 year “high-skilled” work visa, and an hourly rate of $25.49 per hour or lower will be issued with a 6 month “low-skilled” work visa.

The labour market testing and advertising requirements are still going to be required for both low-skilled and high-skilled work visas.  This is a change to the previous anticipated benefits of the new system.  Pre-Covid 19, INZ released an in-depth insight to what the new Employer Assisted Temporary Work Visa System would look like and its “benefits”.  One of those being that Otago and Southland based high-skilled work visas would not be required to undertake any labour market testing.  Secondly, Otago and Southland low-skilled visas applicants could be issued with 1 visa for a duration of 3 years opposed to the standard 1 year.  Disappointingly, these benefits are now out of sight, at least for the next couple of years.  Not only do all work visa applications require labour market testing, but low-skilled visas have now been reduced to a maximum duration of 6 months.  This has at least doubled visa expenses for migrants and employers.   

Some other points to note include:

  • Low-skilled work visa holders can now support partners and dependants[1];
  • There are no longer 5 year high-skilled work visas;
  • The 3 year low-skilled visa stand down period still applies[2];
  • ANZSCO is still used in the assessment of Skilled Migrant Resident Visas[3];
  • All low-skilled visa applications require a Skills Match Report from MSD.
  • Automatic 6 month extensions have been issued to all employer assisted work visa holders who have an expiry date before the end of 2020.  Note, if a partner or dependant is attached to that work visa, their visas will not receive the automatic extensions, they will need to apply for new visas.

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[1] Work visas for partners of low-skilled visa holders can only be issued to partners who are already onshore in New Zealand.

[2] The first round of migrants subject to the stand down period who have received the automatic extension are able to remain in New Zealand to their new expiry date.

[3] INZ will be utilising the new ANZSCO version 1.3 from the end of 2020.




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