The skill level of employment for essential skills work visa holders is currently assessed by using a combination of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSCO) and hourly rate. This is set to be replaced by a new 'pay rate' system for determining skill level and work visa duration.


From 27 July 2020 Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will use a simply remuneration threshold to determine if a job is 'high' or 'low' paid. Whether a job is 'high' or 'low' paid will depend on whether an employee is earning above or below the median wage (currently $25.50 an hour).

Remuneration will then be used to determine:

  • How long a work visa will be granted for;
  • If engagement with MSD is required to secure a Skills Match Report; and
  • Whether dependent partners will get work or visitor visas.

The below useful table has been provided by Immigration New Zealand to summarise the different conditions that will attach to 'high' or 'low' paid work visas, from 27 July 2020.

When ANZSCO will still be used

  • Skilled migrant category residence visa assessments;
  • To ensure that the rate of pay for a position is not less than market rate; and
  • To assess whether applicants are suitably qualified for the position, e.g. a Registered Nurse will still need a relevant qualification and professional registration, per the ANZSCO.

Our advice

This is a significant update and it will have an impact on anyone applying for an essential skills work visa going forward. Only applications accepted before 27 July 2020 will be assessed under the current rules.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.