Is New Zealand adapting a 'guest worker' policy?

Beginning 2015, the NZ Government implemented changes affecting the status of 'Essential Skills' visa holders in New Zealand. The 'essential skills' pertains to a main category of admission for migrant workers and is meant to help employers bring in workers when local labour is not available.

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Contractual Status

Essential Skills visa workers are given a maximum duration of 3 years to work for a lower-skilled employment. Afterwards, they need to spend 12 consecutive months outside New Zealand before they can be granted a further Essential Skills visa to undertake lower-skilled work. [NZ Immigration]

Implemented: January 2018

How long can workers stay?

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Visa restrictions

The new policy restricts the ability of Essential Skills work visa holders in lower-skilled employment from supporting the visas of their partner, and dependent children for work, student or visitor visas. [NZ Immigration]

Implemented: January 2018

Can they bring their family to NZ?

Salary Threshold

The government introduced 3 skill bands: lower-skilled, mid-skilled, and higher-skilled. Workers need to qualify as mid-skilled employees to be able to apply for residency. They need to earn at least $20.65 per hour (formerly $19.97) or the equivalent annual salary. [NZ Immigration]

Download consultation report here

Implemented: January 2018

What are salary thresholds?

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