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What is ‘skilled’ employment

Can your offer of employment be the base for a visa?

Not all jobs qualify for a work visa

Most migrants to New Zealand will do so after finding ‘skilled’ employment in the country. This “offer of skilled employment” is the key requirement for many temporary and residence class visas, including the popular skilled migrant category.

Simply put, the job you are being offered in New Zealand must be sufficiently skilled to justify that no New Zealander could fill the position. This means that you cannot accept just ‘any’ offer of work in New Zealand. The position may not meet certain visa category requirements or may not be acceptable to claim points for skilled employment for an Expression of Interest under the Skilled Migrant category.

This is where engaging the services of a Licensed Adviser can make a real difference. Your personal adviser can verify that your job offer meets the requirements in terms of skill level, salary, and alignment with your qualifications and experience.

Remuneration thresholds may also apply

Under current immigration instructions, skilled employment is employment that meets a minimum remuneration threshold and requires specialist, technical or management expertise obtained through:

  • the completion of recognised relevant qualifications; or
  • relevant work experience; or
  • the completion of recognised relevant qualifications and/or work experience

It is also paramount that the occupation be substantially matched with an existing ANZSCO occupation. The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations has a list of occupations available online and Immigration New Zealand uses this standard to classify skill levels.

  • A skill level 1 occupation is considered highly skilled
  • A skill level 2 or 3 occupation is considered mid-skilled
  • A skill level 4 or 5 occupation is considered low-skilled.

In 2017, Immigration New Zealand defined salary bands for each skill level, which have implications on an applicant’s eligibility, and temporary visa duration (1 to 5 years at a time). These were realigned to the median income in 2018.

Under the Skilled Migrant Category (residence visa), an offer of skilled employment must also be full time (at least 30 hours per week on average), for at least 12 months, with a remuneration at or above NZ$35.24 per hour (or the equivalent annual salary).

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