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Skilled Migrant and Essential Skills — remuneration threshold changes Monday, 9 March 2020

On 24 February 2020 the wage or salary thresholds for Skilled Migrant Resident Visas and Essential Skills Work Visas will increase.

Annual review of remuneration thresholds

Once a year we update the remuneration or pay rate thresholds for the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) Resident Visa and the Essential Skills Work Visa.

The new thresholds are based on the New Zealand median salary and wage rate of NZD $25.50 per hour (up 2% from last year).

Note

Changes to the income thresholds will not affect the duration or conditions of visas that we have already granted.

2019 review

We normally update the thresholds in November each year. This year we are updating them later so that workers and employers have more time to prepare for the changes. The changes come into effect on 24 February 2020.

Future reviews

In future we will continue to update the thresholds in November, but we will communicate the changes earlier.

New hourly rates for SMC Resident Visa applicants

From 24 February 2020, we are making changes to what an applicant applying for a SMC Resident Visa must earn to be awarded points for skilled employment.

Skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO skill level 1 to 3

From 24 February 2020, SMC applicants must be paid NZD $25.50 or more per hour (or the equivalent annual salary) to be awarded points for skilled employment.

For example, minimum salaries for occupations at ANZSCO skill levels 1 to 3 must be:

  • NZD $39,780 a year based on a 30-hour work week
  • NZD $46,410 a year based on a 35-hour work week
  • NZD $53,040 a year based on a 40-hour work week.

Between 26 November 2018 and 23 February 2020 applicants must be paid NZD $25.00 or more per hour (or the equivalent annual salary).

Skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO skill levels 4 and 5

From 24 February 2020, SMC applicants must be paid NZD $38.25 or more per hour (or the equivalent annual salary), to be awarded points for skilled employment.

For example, minimum salaries for occupations at ANZSCO skill levels 4 and 5 must be:

  • NZD $59,670 a year based on a 30-hour work week
  • NZD $69,615 a year based on a 35-hour work week
  • NZD $79,560 a year based on a 40-hour work week.

Between 26 November 2018 and 23 February 2020 applicants must be paid NZD $37.50 or more per hour (or the equivalent annual salary).

Some occupations at ANZSCO skill levels 4 and 5 are treated as an exception. From 24 February 2020 the threshold for skilled employment for these occupations will be NZD $25.50 per hour (or the equivalent annual salary) or above.

List of ANZSCO occupations treated as an exception

Pay rate to claim bonus points in an application

From 24 February 2020, SMC applicants must be paid NZD $51.00 or more per hour (or the equivalent annual salary).

Between 26 November 2018 and 23 February 2020 applicants must be paid NZD $50.00 or more per hour (or the equivalent annual salary).

If you were invited to apply for SMC before the increase

We will assess your application against the thresholds in place on the date your expression of interest (EOI) was selected.

For example, if your EOI was selected before 24 February 2020 and you were invited to apply after 24 February 2020, the old remuneration thresholds will apply, even though you were not invited to apply until after the new thresholds were introduced.

New hourly rates for Essential Skills Work Visa applicants

From 24 February 2020, we are making changes to what an applicant applying for an Essential Skills Work Visa must earn.

Mid-skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO skill level 1 to 3

From 24 February 2020, Essential Skills applicants must be paid NZD $21.68 or more per hour (or the equivalent annual salary).

For example, minimum salaries for occupations at ANZSCO skill levels 1 to 3 must be:

  • NZD $33,820.80 a year based on a 30-hour work week
  • NZD $39,457.60 a year based on a 35-hour work week
  • NZD $45,094.40 a year based on a 40-hour work week.

Between 26 November 2018 and 23 February 2020 applicants must be paid NZD $21.25 or more per hour (or the equivalent annual salary).

Higher-skilled employment, including occupations at ANZSCO skill levels 4 and 5

From 24 February 2020, Essential Skills applicants must be paid NZD $38.25 or more per hour (or the equivalent annual salary).

For example, minimum salaries for occupations at ANZSCO skill levels 4 and 5 must be:

  • NZD $59,670 a year based on a 30-hour work week
  • NZD $69,615 a year based on a 35-hour work week
  • NZD $79,560 a year based on a 40-hour work week.

Between 26 November 2018 and 23 February 2020 applicants must be paid NZD $37.50 or more per hour (or the equivalent annual salary).

Lower-skilled employment at any ANZSCO level

From 24 February 2020, Essential Skills applicants paid NZD $21.67 or less per hour (or the equivalent annual salary), will be lower-skilled.

For example, employment with a maximum salary of:

  • NZD $33,805.20 a year based on a 30-hour work week
  • NZD $39,439.40 a year based on a 35-hour work week
  • NZD $45,073.60 a year based on a 40-hour work week.

Between 26 November 2019 and 23 February 2020 applicants were lower-skilled if they were paid NZD $21.24 or less per hour (or the equivalent annual salary).

Lower-skilled employment at ANZSCO Levels 4 and 5

From 24 February 2020, Essential Skills applicants paid NZD $38.24 or less per hour (or the equivalent annual salary), will be lower-skilled.

For example, employment with a maximum salary of:

  • NZD $59,654.40 a year based on a 30-hour work week
  • NZD $69,596.80 a year based on a 35-hour work week
  • NZD $79,539.20 a year based on a 40-hour work week.

Between 26 November 2019 and 23 February 2020 applicants were lower-skilled if they were paid NZD $37.49 or less per hour (or the equivalent annual salary).

Some occupations at ANZSCO skill levels 4 and 5 are treated as an exception and can be mid-skilled. From 24 February 2020 the threshold for mid-skilled employment for these occupations will be NZD $25.50 per hour (or the equivalent annual salary) or above.

List of ANZSCO occupations treated as an exception

If you apply for an Essential Skills Work Visa before 24 February 2020

If you apply for, or have applied for, an Essential Skills work visa and we receive your application before 24 February 2020, the old thresholds will be used to assess and determine your visa application.

If you apply for an Essential Skills Work Visa on or after 24 February 2020

Only new applications we receive on or after 24 February 2020 will be assessed against the new threshold.

The new thresholds will apply, even if the employment agreement was signed before 24 February 2020.

If you are applying for a further visa, this may mean the conditions or visa duration of the next visa could be different. For example, a chef paid NZD $21.50 an hour would currently be considered mid-skilled, as the occupation is ANZSCO level 2 and the pay is above the existing threshold of $21.25. If they applied for a further visa after 24 February 2020 they would be considered low skilled, unless their pay increased to above the new threshold of NZD $21.68.