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From 19 July, changes have been made to Essential Skills visas to streamline application processing and increase visa duration. This includes:

  • 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 already been provided to Immigration New Zealand, even if they were provided more than 36 months ago
  • If the applicant is remaining in their current full time employment and not changing their role, employer or location of work
    - the employer will no longer need to meet labour market test and
    - applicants and employers will be able to make declarations in place of providing evidence that the requirements are met


To be eligible for the removal of the labour market test and new evidence requirements, you must also hold one of the following visas:

  • Any work visa (including a Working Holiday Visa)
  • A student visa to study Masters or PhD
  • A Critical Purpose visitor visa granted as a critical health worker, or granted for more than six months as an ‘other critical worker’.


Until 29 August 2021, you will need to use the paper based form - 
INZ 1266 Essential Skills Work Visa Application Form 

From 30 August 2021 you will be able to apply online.


Changes to requirements apply up to the middle of 2022. An update will be provided as soon as an exact date is confirmed. 

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.  

Fees for the two-year Essential Skills visa will remain the same at $440 plus the Immigration Levy of $55. Employers are encouraged to meet these costs. 

Essential Skills Work Visa