National median salary increase impacts on working visas

In September 2020 it was announced that the national median salary had risen from $25.50 per to $27.

This change will affect migrant workers hoping to bring their family to New Zealand at some point when the opens.

Presently, Essential Skills work visa holders must earn a minimum of $25.50 to be eligible for a 3-year work visa and to be eligible to support their family’s visas.

Earning anything less than $25.50 would currently mean that a 6-month visa would be the maximum length issued at any one time.

The visa holder would also be unable to support their family’s visas and the holder could also be eventually subject to a 12-month stand-down period.

As a result, there is pressure for migrant workers currently earning $25.50 to apply for visas now in order to gain a three-year working visa.

Immigration NZ states on their website that they will announce changes to the national median in November each year. However, the latest salary change was not implemented until the following February.

Mandatory Employer Accreditation

The latest we have heard from Immigration NZ is that there are no plans to delay the rollout of mandatory employer accreditation, which is due to become mandatory in 2021 for NZ employers wishing to apply for visas.

We expect to hear the details on new visa application categories soon with the implementation coming in over the next 6-12 months.

Labour Market Testing –Work and Income Occupation Lists

The introduction of occupation lists used by Work and Income is yet another piece of confusing criteria that Immigration NZ has added to their Essential Skills work visa process.

The lists indicate whether an occupation is considered to be over-supplied or under-supplied in a certain location.

Prior to the introduction, if the position was paid over $25.50, there was no need to request for a Skills Match Report from work and income.

Now, if the position is considered to be oversupplied, the chances that an Essential Skills application would be approved are significantly reduced.

Immigration NZ did state in their announcement in the FAQ’s that this would not affect positions where the salary was over the national median rate.

However, as we see it, this is not reflected in Immigration Instructions.

In fact, the instructions currently state that an officer can seek advice from WINZ no matter what the position is paying when considering the application.

We will soon see Immigration NZ’s position on this, especially in the case of a Concrete Worker based in Auckland which is currently on the oversupply list.

Visit to view the lists.

About the author

Cameron is highly experienced in visa applications and spent over a decade as a Visa Officer for the Australian Consulate General in New Zealand. He is a licensed NZ immigration adviser as well as an Australian Registered Migration Agent.

Cameron has extensive experience with assisting NZ businesses to look after their migrant teams as well as managing approval in principal and accreditation applications. He also specialises in employer assisted NZ work visas, as well as SMC and other residence visas.


Please note that the information provided is intended to be for information only. We recommend that you consult with a Licensed Immigration Adviser before making any decisions or submitting any applications.