Essential Skills Work Visa changes

Information about updated settings to Essential Skills visas in response to COVID-19.

On 19 July 2021, changes were made to Essential Skills visas to streamline application processing and increase visa duration. These changes include:

  • Increasing the maximum duration of an Essential Skills visa for jobs paid below the median wage from 12 to 24 months
  • Removing the requirement to provide medical and police certificates if these have previously been provided to Immigration New Zealand with a visa application, even if they were provided more than 36 months ago (from 5 August 2021. This also applies to a partner and/or dependent child applying on the basis of their relationship to an Essential Skills applicant or visa holder) and the applicant is in New Zealand.

In addition, if the applicant is remaining in their current full time employment and not changing their role, employer or region of work then, 

  • the employer will no longer need to meet a labour market test (including a Skills Match Report) and
  • applicants and employers will be able to make declarations in place of providing evidence that the requirements are met

To be eligible for this (the removal of the labour market test and evidence requirements), the applicant must hold one of the following visas:

  • Any type of work visa (including a Working Holiday Visa)
  • A student visa that has unlimited work rights (i.e. to study Masters or PhD degree)
  • 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 (this means if a worker changes employer or role or region, then their employer will be required to complete a labour market test). However, if the worker’s occupation is listed on one of Immigration New Zealand’s skills shortage lists and the applicant meets the requirements for qualifications or experience, then a labour market test is not required.

Once you have submitted your application, we may ask for further documents if these are required to process your application.

Making an application for an Essential Skills work visa

Apply using the online form for a work visa, or the paper form for Essential Skills visa applications (INZ 1266).

Essential Skills Work Visa

INZ 1266 Essential Skills Work Visa Application Form PDF 338KB 

Your employer must also fill out the latest version of the Employer Supplementary Form because this version of the form asks for the specific information we need.  The latest version is dated August 2021. Ensure this version of the form is completed to avoid processing delays.

Employer Supplementary Form (INZ 1113) PDF 269KB

Changes to requirements apply up to the middle of 2022. An update will be provided as soon as an exact date is confirmed. 

Fees for the two-year Essential Skills visa will remain the same at $440 plus the Immigration Levy of $55. Employers are encouraged to meet these costs. 

Essential Skills Work Visa

Making an application for a visa based on your relationship to an Essential Skills work visa holder or applicant (partners and dependent children)

From 5 August 2021, the requirement to provide medical and police certificates has been removed for partners and dependent children who are in New Zealand and:

  • are applying for a work, student or visitor visa based on their relationship to an Essential Skills visa holder or applicant, and
  • provided medical and police certificates to Immigration New Zealand with a previous visa application.

If you have just obtained medical or police certificates for your visa application, you can choose to still submit them.

You can apply using the online form for a partner or dependent child visa application

Essential Skills Work Visa

Or you can apply using the paper forms for a partner (Partnership-Based Temporary Visa Application, INZ 1198) or for a dependent child (Student Visa Application INZ 1012,  or Visitor Visa Application INZ 1017).

If you use a paper form, use the most recent version of the form is completed to avoid processing delays

Student Visa Application (INZ 1012) PDF 340KB

Visitor Visa Application (INZ 1017) PDF 397KB

Partnership-based Temporary Visa Application (INZ 1198) PDF 269KB

Visas that allow you to join family | Immigration New Zealand