How long you can stay on an Essential Skills Work Visa

How long you can spend in New Zealand on an Essential Skills Work Visa depends on your situation.

Find out how long you can stay

The length of your visa depends on:

Employment skill-bands for Essential Skills Work Visas

Check the table for the situation that applies to you. The durations listed are the maximum you can stay on each Essential Skills Work Visa.

If your employment contract is shorter than the maximum duration of the visa, we grant your visa only for the length of your employment contract.

If you applied for your visa on or after 26 November 2018

Find out the skill-band and duration of your visa, based on the ANZSCO skill level and remuneration of your employment, if you applied for your visa on or after 26 November 2018.

Skill band ANZSCO skill level Remuneration Maximum duration of visa
Higher-skilled Any

$37.50 per hour or higher

5 years
Mid-skilled 1, 2, or 3

$21.25 - $37.49 per hour

3 years
Lower-skilled 4 or 5

Less than $37.50 per hour

12 months (maximum total stay of 36 months)
Lower-skilled Any

Less than $21.25 per hour

12 months (maximum total stay of 36 months)

Previous remuneration tables

Applying for another Essential Skills Work Visa

If you want to stay in New Zealand for longer, you can apply for another Essential Skills Work Visa.

If your employment is mid or higher-skilled there is no limit to the number of Essential Skills Work Visas you can apply for or the total time you can spend in New Zealand on Essential Skills Work Visas.

If you are in lower-skilled employment you are subject to a 12-month stand-down period after 3 years.

Each time you apply for a new Essential Skills Work Visa you need to show us that you meet all the requirements for us to grant you a visa. This includes your employer making sure there is no New Zealander who could do the job before they offer it to you.

Stand-down period for lower-skilled workers

Once you have spent 3 years working in New Zealand in lower-skilled employment, you must leave New Zealand for 12 consecutive months before we can grant you another Essential Skills Work Visa for lower-skilled employment. The period of 12 months outside New Zealand is called a ‘stand-down period’.

If you are subject to a stand-down period, you cannot be granted a further Essential Skills Work Visa for lower-skilled work. You may still be able to get a different type of visa, or an Essential Skills Work Visa to do mid- or higher-skilled work.