Employment Skill-Bands For Essential Skills Work Visas

A skill-band is assigned to an offer of employment, based on the amount of pay and the ANZSCO skill level.

An offer of employment made to an applicant for an Essential Skills work visa will be assigned a skill-band based on the remuneration and the ANZSCO skill level. There are 3 skill-bands: lower-skilled, mid-skilled, and higher-skilled.

The skill-band assigned to the employment offered helps to determine:

  • the duration of the visa granted
  • whether the visa holder can support visas for family members
  • whether there is a maximum time the visa holder can spend in New Zealand.

Remuneration thresholds

The following table outlines the remuneration and ANZSCO levels associated with each skill band. To be considered mid- or higher-skilled, every hour worked must be paid above the relevant threshold amount.

The mid-skilled remuneration threshold of $19.97 per hour equates to $41,538 per year if 40 hours per week are worked.

Remuneration ANZSCO 1-3 ANZSCO 4-5
$35.25+ per hour Higher-skilled Higher-skilled
$19.97 - $35.24 per hour Mid-skilled Lower-skilled
Less than $19.97 per hour Lower-skilled Lower-skilled


If an employment agreement details a number of different hourly rates, we will use the lowest rate to determine the employment skill band. For example, if a contract contains a normal hourly rate of $22.00 and an overtime rate of $19.00 the rate of remuneration for our purposes will be considered to be $19.00 and the employment will be considered lower-skilled regardless of the ANZSCO level of the role.

Updating the remuneration thresholds

We update the mid- and higher-skilled remuneration thresholds in November each year. The minimum wage acts as the minimum amount that must be paid to be considered lower-skilled.

The remuneration thresholds are based on the ‘Earnings from wages and salaries’ information included in the annual New Zealand Labour Market Statistics (Income) information released for the June quarter. This information is normally released in September or October of each year and will take effect in immigration instructions from November. We send out an Amendment Circular prior to the updated immigration instructions taking effect.

The remuneration bands are calculated in the following way:

Skill band Calculation
Higher-skilled 150% of the median hourly earnings from wages and salaries
Mid-skilled 85% of the median hourly earnings from wages and salaries
Lower-skilled Minimum wage


Related links

Policy Amendment Circulars
Labour Market Statistics (Income)
Minimum wage