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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.

The Essential Skills Work Visa closed to new applications on 4 July 2022. If you have an existing visa, your individual conditions will remain until the visa expires.

Find out how long you can stay

The length of your visa depended on:

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 your visa was granted on or after 19 July 2021

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 $27 an hour 3 years
Below the NZ median wage of $27 an hour

2 years

 

Previous pay rate information

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

If you applied between 27 July 2020 and 18 July 2021

How long you can stay depends on if you are paid below the median wage at the time, 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

12 months if your visa is granted between 10 June 2021 and 19 July 2021.

6 months if your visa is granted before 10 June 2021 and 19 July 2021.

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)

 

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 temporary work visa

The Accredited Employer Work Visa has replaced the Essential Skills Work Visa for new applications.

Accredited Employer Work Visa