Essential Skills Work Visa Changes

Essential Skills Work Visa closes for new applications on 03 July 2022

Staff Meeting

Changes have been made to Essential Skills visas to streamline application processing and increase visa duration. These changes include:

  • Increasing the maximum duration of an Essential Skills visa for jobs paid below the median wage from 12 to 24 months

  • Removing the requirement to provide medical and police certificates if these have previously been provided to Immigration New Zealand with a visa application, even if they were provided more than 36 months ago (from 5 August 2021, this also applies to a partner and/or dependent child applying on the basis of their relationship to an Essential Skills applicant or visa holder)

In addition, if the applicant is remaining in their current full time employment and not changing their role, employer or region of work then, 

  • the employer will no longer need to meet a labour market test (including a Skills Match Report) and

  • applicants and employers will be able to make declarations in place of providing evidence that the requirements are met


To be eligible for this (the removal of the labour market test and evidence requirements), the applicant must hold one of the following visas:

  • Any type of work visa (including a Working Holiday Visa)

  • A student visa that has unlimited work rights (i.e. to study Masters or PhD degree)

  • A Critical Purpose visitor visa granted as a critical health worker, or granted for more than six months as an ‘other critical worker’.

Happy Plumbers
Technicians at Work

Labour market tests will still be required from employers for vacant roles, or where the worker will change the region they work in for the employer (this means if a worker changes employer or role or region, then their employer will be required to complete a labour market test).


However, if the worker’s occupation is listed on one of Immigration New Zealand’s skills shortage lists and the applicant meets the requirements for qualifications or experience, then a labour market test is not required.

Glass Buildings

Partners and Dependent Children - Visa application based on your relationship to an Essential Skills work visa holder or applicant

From 5 August 2021, the requirement to provide medical and police certificates has been removed for partners and dependent children who:

  • are applying for a work, student or visitor visa based on their relationship to an Essential Skills visa holder or applicant, and

  • provided medical and police certificates to Immigration New Zealand with a previous visa application.

Couple Walking on Urban Sidewalk