How pay rates affect Essential Skills work visas

If you are applying for an Essential Skills Work Visa, the requirements and conditions of your visa will depend on the job you have been offered and if you will be paid below the NZ median wage, or the NZ median wage or above.

How your pay rate affects your visa

Whether you are paid below the median wage or the median wage or above will determine:

  • how long your visa is granted for
  • if there is a maximum time you can hold an Essential Skills visa
  • if you can support a work visa for your partner
  • if you will need to leave New Zealand for 12 months once you have been here for 3 years — this is called a stand-down period.

The current NZ median wage

As of July 2020 the New Zealand median wage is NZD $25.50 an hour. We update the median wage every year, usually in November.

Updating essential skills pay rate thresholds

If you earn a salary, we calculate what your hourly rate is based on the hours you are contracted to work.

How we calculate your Essential Skills pay rate

If you earn the NZ median wage or above

If you applied for your visa on or after 27 July 2020 for work paying the median wage or above, you can support:

  • work or visitor visas for your partner
  • visitor or student visas for dependent children.

The maximum duration of your visa is 3 years.

Bringing family if you have a work visa

How long you can stay on an Essential Skills Work Visa

If you earn below the NZ median wage

If you applied for your visa on or after 27 July 2020 for work paying below the median wage, you can support:

  • visitor visas for partners
  • visitor or student visas for dependent children, as long as you meet the minimum income requirement, which is currently NZD $43,322.76 a year.

The maximum duration of your visa is 6 months with a maximum total stay in New Zealand of 3 years. After 3 years you must either improve your skills, change your visa or leave New Zealand.

If you work for an accredited labour hire company you may get a visa for up to 3-years (unless you are subject to the stand down period).

Bringing family if you have a work visa

How long you can stay on an Essential Skills Work Visa

Accredited labour hire companies

If you want to improve your skills

You can improve your skills as long as you still meet your visa conditions. You cannot change your job or occupation if your conditions only allow you to work in a specific job or occupation.

Check your visa conditions

While you hold your work visa you can do any training your employer needs you to do as part of your employment. You can do this training without changing your visa conditions.

You can also do more skilled tasks during your normal employment, as long as your employment still mostly matches the ANZSCO occupation you were granted your visa for.

If you start doing so many higher-skilled tasks that your occupation more closely matches a different ANZSCO occupation, you must apply for a variation of conditions to your current visa or for a new visa.

Varying the conditions of a work visa