Skilled migration to New Zealand is looking different as of today due to changes made to the essential skills work visa as well as the skilled migrant visa.
To understand the changes, you need to understand how the rules worked up to now and how the rules have now changed.
We’re going to keep our explanation as simple as possible, but it does get complicated!
We encourage you to email us or call us on +27 (0) 21 202 8200 to have a chat instead. It is now more important than ever to work with a professional!
Old rules vs new rules
To qualify for an essential skills work visa up to now, you must have met certain skill level requirements. INZ determined whether or not you met these requirements by evaluating:
- Your occupation’s ANZSCO level.
- Your work experience and qualifications.
- Your salary. Specifically – Is it market related?
In cases where the outcome showed that you do qualify for an essential skills work visa, the visa was then issued for up to 5 years.
Now INZ is adding a fourth qualifier to establish skill your level:
- Your hourly remuneration.
That’s not all that’s changing though – INZ has also introduced three skill bands.
Together all of these qualifiers determine how long you will be permitted to stay in New Zealand. (Keep in mind that the essential skills work visa is only a temporary visa.For residency you have to qualify under the skilled migrant category.)
Diving into the skill bands and remuneration requirements
There are now three skill bands as mentioned. These are:
Remember – your remuneration and ANZSCO occupation level will determine in which skill band you fall.
Here is how this will work:
|Remuneration||ANZSCO 1 – 3||ANZSCO 4 – 5|
|NZ$35.24+ per hour||HIGH||HIGH|
|NZ$19.97 – NZ$35.24 per hour||MID||LOW|
|Less than NZ$19.97 per hour||LOW||LOW|
Here’s what these classifications mean:
We already mentioned that the skill bands will determine how long you’ll be allowed to stay in New Zealand.
BUT your skill band will also determine the type of visa your partner or dependent child(ren) will be able to apply for on the basis of their relationship to you:
|Skill band||Maximum visa length||Maximum number of visas (renewals)||Eligible to support partner/child visa|
|Higher-skilled||5 years||Unlimited||Yes, partner work, student or visitor visa|
|Mid-skilled||3 years||Unlimited||Yes, partner work, student or visitor visa|
|Lower-skilled||1 year||Up to 3 years||Yes, but only visitor visas|
Let’s explain this:
You can renew your visa, as many times as you like, for 5 or 3 years on the higher-skilled or mid-skilled bands respectively. You visa status supports your family’s applications to work, go to school or simply visit you.
The lower-skilled band is different though.
Let’s take a closer look at the lower-skilled employment band
Should you qualify for an essential skills work visa on lower-skilled employment, it will be subject to the following:
- Your visa is only valid for one year and may only be renewed for up to 3 years.
- Once you’ve held an essential skills work visa for 3 years, you must spend 12 consecutive months outside of New Zealand BEFORE you can make another application for an essential skills work visa for lower-skilled employment.
- Your partner and children are only eligible to apply for visitor visas based on their relationship with you. If your family would like to also live in New
- Zealand while working or going to school they MUST apply for their own New Zealand visas. This means your family will have to make applications for work visas, student visas and meet the requirements for the visas in their own right.
Are these essential skills work visa changes all bad news?
No, not necessarily.
Even if you qualify under the lower-skilled band, you’ll still be allowed to make an application for another type of visa or an essential skills work visa based on mid-skilled or higher-skilled employment.
How, you ask? You might get promoted or get a raise during your employment period, both of which could qualify you for one of the top two skill bands.
What if I’ve already submitted my essential skills work visa application?
The essential skills work visa changes discussed here are only applied to applications made on or after today, 28 August 2017.
Special arrangements are in place to provide for family members of current essential skills work visa holders who will now fall under the lower-skilled skill band.
Please chat to one of our advisers about this if you are concerned that you’ll be affected. Our number is +27 (0) 21 202 8200.
Skilled migrant visa changes that were first announced on 19 April 2017 are now coming into effect on 28 August 2017. This includes changes to the essential skills visa, also implemented on the same day.
These changes affect many aspects of the skilled migrant visa policy, including:
- The way that ‘skilled employment’ and ‘work experience’ are assessed and awarded points.
- The points awarded for work experience, qualifications and age.
- Some points are also being removed:
- Points for employment, work experience and qualifications in identified future growth areas.
- Points for qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage.
- Points for close family in New Zealand.
We understand that this amount of change in one of the most popular visa categories could raise a lot of questions and concerns. This is why we’re going to do two things for you now:
- Answer some of the questions that you’re probably asking yourself.
- Give a summary of the changes.
Afterwards you are more than welcome to call us on +27 (0) 21 202 8200 for a more detailed discussion.
Questions and answers on the skilled migrant visa changes
Is it all bad news for me?
No, not necessarily.
As per the New Zealand government, there will be an impact on some people in lower-paid employment. However, the changes expand the definition of skilled employment to allow some people to gain residence who have previously been unable to claim points for their employment in New Zealand.
How will this be possible?
People who are not currently considered to be in skilled employment because their job is not an ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 or 3 occupation will be able to claim points for their job if they meet the relevant remuneration threshold.
What particular types of applicants benefit from the changes?
The changes to the visa put more focus on:
- Skilled work experience;
- More recognition of skill levels in the 30 – 39 age group; and
- High remuneration levels.
Why is the skilled migrant visa changing?
Immigration New Zealand has said in their statement that the changes have been made to:
‘improve the skill composition of people gaining residence under the Skilled Migrant Category and ensure we attract migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand’.
Has the process for applying for residence under the skilled migrant visa changed?
No, the application process has not changed.
I have already submitted my skilled migrant visa application but it has not yet been finalised. What will happen to my application if it’s not decided until after the changes come into effect?
Your application will not be affected by the changes. Because it was submitted before the changes come into effect, your application will continue to be assessed under the instructions in place at the time you made your application.
Summary of the skilled migrant visa changes
The changes to the skilled migrant visa include:
- The introduction of remuneration thresholds as an additional means of defining skilled employment:
- Jobs at ANZSCO skill levels 1, 2 and 3 must be paid at or above NZ$23.49 per hour. This equates to a salary of NZ$48 859 per year based on a 40 hour week.
- Jobs that are not ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 or 3 must be paid at or above NZ$35.24 per hour. This equates to a salary of NZ$73 299 per year based on a 40 hour week.
- More points available for work experience. However, points will only be awarded for work experience that is skilled.
- Ten (10) points will be awarded for skilled New Zealand work experience of 12 months or more.
- No additional points will be awarded for work experience of two years or more.
- Points for recognised level 9 or 10 post-graduate qualifications (Master’s degrees and Doctorates) will increase to 70 points.
- Points for people aged 30 – 39 years will increase to 30 points.
- Points will only be awarded for partners’ qualifications if the qualifications are either a:
- Bachelor’s level degree or higher; or
- Post-graduate (level 9 or 10) qualification.
- Points will no longer be available for:
- Employment, work experience and qualifications in identified future growth areas.
- Qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage.
- Close family in New Zealand.
- Applicants who meet the health, character, English and selection point requirements BUT who do not have either skilled employment or a higher degree gained in New Zealand, will be invited to apply for a ‘job search visa’ to enable them to find ongoing skilled employment in New Zealand.
- There will be greater flexibility for offshore applicants to travel to New Zealand within the 12 month validity of their ‘job search visa’.
Do you have your heart set on taking your family to New Zealand?
Then you must read our six tips on New Zealand emigration. Each tip will reveal one thing you can do to set yourself up for success.
Let’s get straight to them…
1 Find out if you qualify to live in New Zealand
You won’t be able to enter New Zealand without a valid visa and you definitely won’t be able to work, study, do business or retire in New Zealand without the appropriate visa.
How do you find out if you qualify for a New Zealand visa?
You have two options:
- Do all the research yourself.
- Get help from an emigration adviser.
Our advice? Chat to an adviser. An adviser has what you don’t – expert knowledge on New Zealand emigration and experience in the industry.
Very important – ensure the adviser you approach is licensed! It is required by New Zealand law that immigration advisers for the country must be either licensed or exempt.
2. Get the right advice
As said above, you can tackle your emigration on your own or with the help of a licensed adviser.
Our recommendation will always be to work with an adviser. This is not just because we’re advisers ourselves:
New Zealand immigration regulations tend to change often.
If you don’t have the latest information, you could waste a lot of time and energy on incorrect visa applications. Don’t forget about the money you also stand to lose!
It’s easy to make mistakes when working out your points score for a skilled migrant visa
Our office regularly get calls from people just like you, excitedly telling us they qualify for a New Zealand skilled migrant visa. Unfortunately it’s often not the case because either:
- The calculation was done with a free online tool; or
- The calculation was done manually. In other words, the person had the points score system in front of them and did the calculation themselves.
The problem with online tools is that pertinent questions around qualifications and work experience are often not asked.
The reason behind manual errors are the same. It’s the background information and nuances you’re not aware of that could make all the difference in your score.
You won’t have these problems when you get a licensed adviser to help
As we said earlier, a licensed adviser has expert knowledge on New Zealand emigration and industry experience:
- You’ll have access to updated visa information at each moment of your application.
- You can rest assured that the person calculating your skilled migrant visa points score knows exactly what they’re doing.
Ask about other services too. Your emigration adviser should be able to help with the compilation of your application too.
Let us stress one more time – your emigration adviser must be licensed.
3. Get your paperwork in order asap
You’ll need to submit a lot of documentation with your application. Find out as soon as you can what would be required of you. Once you know, start getting it all together.
The sooner you can submit your visa application, the sooner you can proceed with the next steps.
4. Start working towards landing a job
Would you like to make your application safe in the knowledge that you have a job offer? Or do you ideally want to get a job shortly after you’ve settled?
Then start the work now. Research employers, prepare a New Zealand-style CV, register your details with recruiters and so on.
Obviously job hunting in a foreign country is daunting, so here is information and resources to help you out:
- Our 3 golden rules for looking for a job in New Zealand.
- How to get a job in New Zealand.
- Working in New Zealand.
- New Zealand CVs and cover letters.
5. Research the New Zealand way of doing things
There will be many differences between how things are done in New Zealand and your home country. The little things, like whether to tip or not after a meal, can be figured out once you get to New Zealand.
However, the bigger things, like health insurance, you should research beforehand. You certainly don’t want to have your family withouth health insurance during an emergency!
Other areas worth investigating before your New Zealand emigration would be:
It could also be good to read up on the New Zealand way of working if you’re going over there to work.
6. Save the equivalent of at least three months’ salary to use as a buffer
You might think that you’ve considered all the costs of setting up a new life in New Zealand, but trust us – surprise expenses pop up all too often.
With a financial buffer built into your planning you’ll be able to much better face costs that come as a surprise. This could be anything from having to pay import costs on something you didn’t expect to need, to admin fees on contracts or rental agreements. The little costs tend to add up quickly!
The most important is number 1 – check your eligibility for New Zealand emigration!
We cannot stress this enough – you must start by finding out if you do in fact qualify for a New Zealand visa.
It’s only when you know for sure that you can emigrate to New Zealand that you should go ahead, knowing you’re pursuing a dream that is actually within reach. That is the only way to protect your family, your time and your money.
The short answer is ‘yes’, your parents can also come to New Zealand – which a lot of people are happy to hear! However, of course, this is subject to certain conditions and qualifying criteria.
Here we’ll tell you more about the three types of visas parents of New Zealanders may apply for:
- Parent Retirement Resident visa.
- Parent Resident visa.
- Parent and Grandparent Visitors visa.
1. Your parents can support themselves financially…
Parents with an adult child in New Zealand may apply for the Parent Retirement Resident visa. Applicants will have to meet certain income and capital requirements.
How much income and capital are required?
Applicants will need:
- An annual income of NZ$60 000;
- NZ$1 million to invest in New Zealand for four years; plus
- NZ$500 000 to live on.
What you can do on a parent retirement resident visa:
- Live, work and study in New Zealand.
- Include a partner in the visa application.
- Apply for permanent residence after 4 years of keeping funds invested in New Zealand.
Read more about the Parent Retirement Resident visa here.
2. Your parents want to join you on the basis of your residency status…
The Parent Residency visa allows parents to pursue residency in New Zealand based on their adult child’s status as a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident. This will allow parents to live, work and study in New Zealand.
BUT unfortunately this visa is temporary closed to new applications.
This is because INZ has already made a sufficient number of selections and invitation to fill the cap set by the New Zealand government.
New applications will only be invited when all the current applications have been processed. According to INZ, this is likely to take until after the end of the 2017/18 financial year.
3. Your parents want to visit for long periods at a time…
Parents, and grandparents, can visit family in New Zealand on a Parent and Grandparent Visitors visa.
The great thing about the visa is that it allows multiple visits on the same visa for extended time periods. And it could be an alternative to the Parent Resident visa for your parents!
Travelling on the Parent and Grandparent Visitors visa
- The Parent and Grandparent Visitors visa is a three-year visa which allows multiple entries into New Zealand.
- Over this three-year period you may remain in New Zealand for 6 months at a time.
- The 6 months starts from your date of arrival in New Zealand.
This means you can visit often and for longer periods of time on one visa.
What does the visa allow?
With the Parent and Grandparent Visitors visa you can:
- Visit children or grandchildren in New Zealand.
- Travel in and out of New Zealand multiple times.
- Include your partner in the visa application.
Read more about the Parent and Grandparent Visitors visa here.
To assess the chances of your parents joining you in New Zealand, simply have them book a consultation call with our licensed advisor. Your parents will find out their visa options and learn how the visa application process works.