The changes will support already announced changes to the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) residence policy and strike the right balance between ensuring New Zealanders are at the front of the queue for jobs and preserving access to the temporary migrant labour necessary for New Zealand’s continued economic growth.
The changes follow a consultation exercise and include:
- The introduction of remuneration bands to assess the skill level of roles offered to Essential Skills visa applicants
- The introduction of a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders, after which they will need to spend 12 months outside New Zealand before they can be granted an Essential Skills visa to work in another lower-skilled role, and
- Requiring the partners and children of lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders to meet the requirements for a visa in their own right (they will still have access to short-term visitor visas).
The changes are designed to continue to enable employers to employ temporary migrant workers where there are genuine shortages while ensuring that lower-skilled migrants are clear about their future prospects in New Zealand.
The changes will be introduced on 28 August this year, at the same time as the changes to the SMC.
Detailed information about the application of these policy changes will be available within the next fortnight. That information will be published on the INZ website and will include how the remuneration threshold will be calculated, implications for family members of workers in lower-skilled roles, and how the stand-down period will be applied.