New Zealand Issues Changes to the Essential Skills Work Visa

The New Zealand government has issued updates to the Essential Skills Work Visa. From July 19, changes will go into effect to streamline the application process and extend the visa duration.

Key Highlights
  • The maximum duration of an Essential Skills visa for jobs paid below the median wage increases from 12 to 24 months
  • Applicants will not be required to provide medical and police certificates if these have already been provided to Immigration New Zealand, even if they were provided more than 36 months ago
  • If the applicant is remaining in their current full-time employment and not changing their role, employer or location of work
    • the employer will no longer need to meet labour market test and
    • applicants and employers will be able to make declarations in place of providing evidence that the requirements are met  
  • From August 30, 2021, applicants will be able to apply online. (Prior to then, the paper form is required.)


To take advantage of the removal of the labour market test and new evidence requirements, applicants must also have one of the following:

  • Any work visa (including a Working Holiday Visa)
  • A student visa to study Masters or PhD
  • A Critical Purpose visitor visa granted as a critical health worker, or granted for more than six months as an ‘other critical worker’.

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.


Erickson Immigration Group will continue to send updates as more news is available. If you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions, please contact your employer or EIG attorney.