Extended Essential Skills visas being rolled out

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From today (Monday 19 July, 2021), Essential Skills visa holders who apply for a new visa to remain in their current job will be able to stay for longer. This change is intended to provide certainty to employers and at least 18,000 visa holders while COVID border restrictions remain in place. 

What is changing:

• The maximum duration of Essential Skills visas, for jobs paid below the median wage, will increase from 12 months to 24 months.
• If the applicant is staying in the same role the requirement for an employer to undergo a labour market test as part of the application process has been removed.
• The employer will no longer need to provide an employment agreement as part of the application process if the applicant is staying in the same role.
• Applicants won’t need to provide medical and police certificates to Immigration New Zealand if that information has been supplied previously.

What is staying the same:

• Labour market tests will still be required from employers for vacant roles, or where the worker will change the region they work in for the employer.
• The maximum duration of Essential Skills visas for jobs paid above the median wage remains at three years.

How long will these changes apply for?
The changes to requirements for Essential Skills visas will apply up to the middle of 2022. The government will be providing an update when the exact date is confirmed. Fees for the two-year Essential Skills visa will remain the same at $440 plus the Immigration Levy of $55.

Should you require assistance or clarification, please contact our Immigration specialist Amalie Blackman