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:

  • how long you have been offered employment for
  • how much you earn
  • if you applied before, or on or after 27 July 2020
  • whether your employer is an accredited labour hire company.

How pay rates affect 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.

Note

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 will be subject to a stand-down, we only grant you a visa until the stand-down period starts. 

If you apply on or after 27 July 2020

How long you can stay depends on if you will be paid below the median wage, or the median wage and above.

Wage Maximum duration of visa
At or above the NZ median wage of $25.50 an hour 3 years
Below the NZ median wage of $25.50 an hour

6 months

Note

The maximum time you can stay in NZ on multiple visas is 36 months.

 

If you applied for your visa between 10 and 26 July 2020

How long you can stay depends on a combination of your ANZSCO skill level and your pay rate.

Skill band ANZSCO skill level Remuneration (NZD) Maximum duration of visa
Higher-skilled Any $38.25 per hour or higher 5 years
Mid-skilled 1, 2, or 3 $21.68 - $38.24 per hour 3 years
Lower-skilled 4 or 5 Less than $38.25 per hour 6 months (maximum total stay of 36 months)
Lower-skilled Any Less than $21.68 per hour 6 months (maximum total stay of 36 months)

Note

Some occupations at ANZSCO skill level 4 or 5 are treated as exceptions. We consider them mid-skilled if the pay rate is NZD $25.50 to $38.24 an hour.

List of ANZSCO occupations treated as an exception

If you applied for your visa on or after 24 February 2020 to 9 July 2020

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

$38.25 per hour or higher

5 years
Mid-skilled 1, 2, or 3

$21.68 - $38.24 per hour

3 years
Lower-skilled 4 or 5

Less than $38.25 per hour

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

Less than $21.68 per hour

12 months (maximum total stay of 36 months)

 

Previous pay rate information

Skill-bands and visa duration for Essential Skills applications submitted before 24 February 2020.

If you applied between 28 August 2017 and 14 January 2018

Find your skill-band and duration, based on the ANZSCO skill level and your pay rate, if you applied for your visa between 28 August 2017 and 14 January 2018.

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

NZD $35.25 per hour or higher

5 years
Mid-skilled 1, 2 or 3

NZD $19.97 to $35.24 per hour

3 years
Lower-skilled 4 or 5

Less than NZD $35.24 per hour

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

Less than NZD $19.97 per hour

12 months (maximum total stay of 36 months)

If you applied between 15 January 2018 and 25 November 2018

Find your skill-band and duration, based on the ANZSCO skill level and your pay rate, if you applied for your visa between 15 January 2018 and 25 November 2018.

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

 NZD $36.44 per hour or higher

5 years
Mid-skilled 1, 2, or 3

NZD $20.65 to $36.43 per hour

3 years
Lower-skilled 4 or 5

Less than NZD $36.44 per hour

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

Less than NZD $20.65 per hour

12 months (maximum total stay of 36 months)

If you applied between 26 November 2018 and 24 February 2020

Find your skill-band and duration, based on the ANZSCO skill level and your pay rate, if you applied for your visa between 26 November 2018 and 24 February 2020.

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

NZD $37.50 per hour or higher

5 years
Mid-skilled 1, 2, or 3

NZD $21.25 to $37.49 per hour

3 years
Lower-skilled 4 or 5

Less than NZD $37.50 per hour

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

Less than NZD $21.25 per hour

12 months (maximum total stay of 36 months)

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 you are paid above the median wage, 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 below median wage work for 3 years

If you are in work that pays below the median wage, or were previously assessed as lower-skilled, you can only get visas to stay in New Zealand for a maximum of 3 years.

After 3 years, you will need to either:

  • apply for another type of visa, such as an Essential Skills visa for a job that pays above the median wage, or
  • leave New Zealand for 12 consecutive months, then apply for another Essential Skills Work Visa for below median wage work.

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.