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Decoding the changes in Work Visa & SMC Category


At the heart of it, the changes that will take effect on 14th of August essentially redefine the term “Skilled Employment”.

The word “Skilled Employment” in an immigration context means that apart from your job being on the skilled list

  • You meet the qualification criterion for the job

  • You meet the salary criterion for the job i.e. you are not being paid less than the market rate

  • The core tasks of the job that you do matches the core tasks for that job as INZ defines it

From 14th August 17, the additional criterion will be

  • That you are paid a minimum of $ 23.49 per hour or $ 48,859

Action points if you are on your way to making a Residency Application

  1. If you are enrolling in a course, choose a course that leads to profession that pays at least $ 48,859 per annum

  2. If you are already in skilled employment and being paid more than $ 48,859. There is no change for you but click on the link below and make sure you don't lose point s for elements like close relations in NZ etc.

  3. If you are in skilled employment and being paid less than $ 48,859 make your PR application before the 14th of August

  4. If you are in skilled employment and you don’t meet the criterion for PR application just yet, you can get a 3-year work visa under essential skills, but renewing it will be problem because a stand down period will apply. So, take steps that you get a salary of more than $ 48,859 for a future work visa or residency application.

  5. If you were in a job which is well paid but did not meet the definition of skilled employment (heavy equipment driver, HT Drivers). You may be eligible to make an application for residency provided you earn above $ 35.24 per hour or $ 73299 per annum

  6. Bonus points if you earn more than $ 46.98 per hour or $ 97718

Please refer to the following link for more information

https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/media-centre/news-notifications/skilled-migrant-category-changes

Changes to Work Visa Settings

At the time of writing this blog, INZ has not issued the exact operating rules however it is likely that the following changes will occur

  1. Essential Skills Work Visa holders will be able to renew their work visas as earlier, provided they are in the HIGHER income bracket

  2. Those on LOWER income bracket can get a work visa for 3 years, after which either they change to higher income bracket work visa OR they will have to face a stand down period

  3. Partner of LOWER income band Essential Skills Work Visa holder will no longer be granted an open work visa, similarly children will not be granted a student visa

How does it influence you

If you are someone who has come into NZ as a student OR a worker and are likely to get a job which pays $ 49,000 these changes won't influence you to that degree.

If you are someone who is on a lower income lower skill job and rely on the annual renewal of your work visa, these changes mean that you need to seriously consider up-skilling.

Disclaimer – Please don’t take this information as specific immigration advise for your situation.


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