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Changes to New Zealand visa categories

We now have a clearer idea of the changes to be implemented on 28 August 2017 Take our assessment now!

Changes to the Skilled Migrant Category

Under the Skilled Migrant Category (residence), the points criteria have been re-aligned to reward the best labour market outcomes.

There are now more points for:

  • Applicants aged 30-39
  • Skilled work experience
  • Some recognised post graduate qualifications

These changes will allow higher-skilled and higher-paid sectors to continue to recruit skilled migrants within the overall residence planning range.

Lower paid occupations mainly in the hospitality, retail, and lower qualified ICT jobs are likely to be affected.

Salary thresholds

Changes mean migrants need more work experience and seniority before they can meet the SMC salary and points criteria, especially those in manager positions.

Employers may still support a worker in a role paid below the threshold as a temporary worker but they will have to show there are no New Zealanders available.


Changes to the Essential Skills temporary work visa

The requirements have been reviewed to

  • contribute to a better alignment between immigration, welfare, and education settings
  • incentivise employers to employ and train domestic workers before recruiting migrant about
  • allow employers to use lower-skilled migrants where there is a genuine need for them
  • maintain the integrity of temporary migration by ensuring the conditions under which lower-skilled and lower-paid temporary migrants come here are clear
  • make it easier for firms to recruit higher-skilled and higher-aid migrant workers and for those migrants to remain as long as is necessary or appropriate


Changes include:

  • the introduction of three remuneration bands to determine the skill level and associated visa conditions
    • lower-skilled
    • mid-skilled
    • higher-skilled
  • for workers in lower-skilled roles, the introduction
    • of a maximum duration of three years, after which there will be a year-long stand down period
    • to require the partners and children of lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders to meet the requirements for a visa in their own right



Find out now if you are eligible under the Skilled Migrant Category or for an Essential Skills Work Visa.

Take our assessment now!