Changes to Essential Skills Work Visas – Updates to Over and Under Supply Lists

Keeping the current immigration situation in mind, there have been some significant changes in the essential work visa rules. Read ahead to know more.

Effective 16 April 2021, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will be using under and over supply updated information provided for by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) following a quarterly review. Due to the Covid-19’s shifting impact on labour market trends, amendments to the way INZ process skills-related work visas is deemed necessary in order to ensure New Zealanders are given priority in filling job shortages.

All applications will be subject to these amendments, including new applications and those currently under processing, where wages offered are below the median New Zealand wage of $25.50 per hour.

The updated undersupply and oversupply lists can be viewed via the Ministry of Social Development:

The regional area structure for each list has also changed so the regions are better defined through boundaries and are made easier for employers to find industry information relevant to their business and identify which area they fall under.

More roles have been added to the undersupply lists pertaining to certain regions meaning that the Skills Match Report normally required to be provided in an application to INZ for positions paid below the median wage are no longer required. Although, employers will still need to advertise their vacancies through external means to demonstrate they have made genuine attempts to attract and recruit suitable New Zealanders.

A few roles have been removed from the undersupply lists, which means Skills Match Reports will be needed for a visa application.

No additional roles are being added to the oversupply lists for “any region”, although several roles have been removed meaning that for these roles employers will need to provide a Skills Match Report for a visa application made if paid below the median wage, unless the role is on the undersupply lists.

The status quo of MSD not issuing Skills Match Reports for roles paid below the median wage and are shown to be on the oversupply lists still applies. Furthermore, if the role pays above the median wage, and is shown to be on the oversupply lists, a Skills Match Report is still required. However, if the role pays above the median wage and shows on the undersupply lists, a Skills Match Report is not required. Any vocations not listed in either, will require an employer to demonstrate genuine attempts to recruit New Zealanders through advertising means.

The next review of both lists, including whether to continue use, and any other enhancements, is scheduled for around mid-2021, although INZ indicate that changes could be made at any time if there is a significant change to labour markets either nationally or regionally.

Thoughts from Professional Visa Solutions Licenced Immigration Advisers

  • All employers will require accreditation with Immigration New Zealand from July 2021 onwards. Probable changes to skills-based work visa categories to fall in-line with this initiative are likely, as demonstrated by the impending increase in the median wage benchmark set to change at that time to NZ$27.00 (gross) per hour. Other areas seen could be around depth of use of ANZSCO in determining applications, re-design of the under and oversupply component, length of visa depending on level of accreditation and a businesses’ workforce level.
  • The refinement of ANZSCO matters areseen somewhat as a step backwards to prior Essential Skills assessments where great emphasis was placed on determining a role title and job description with fine detail, particularly seen with a view to better positioning a borderline role as under or over supplied in the current environment.
  • It appears INZ will be carefully considering whether the payrate fits with the role offered through market payrate considerations, particularly where a role is considered lower skilled under ANZSCO whereas a high payrate is offered, which could be seen as a way for an employer to avoid appropriate labour market testing requirements and could raise questions about business sustainability through ability to be afford to pay the preferred migrant worker. We welcome discussion from applicants and employers so to establish the likelihood of this occurring and offer solutions to minimise this.
  • Through MSD directives, INZ have the ability to change visa qualifying criteria in an instant, which seems to create uncertainty for migrant workers looking for work opportunities, particularly those with looming visa expiries or planning their pathway forward, and those already in roles wishing to retain or advance vocational professions. We suggest you act now by seeking professional advice from our team to guide you down the right future path rather than "waiting to see what happens".

What you can do

  • First and foremost, if you have uncertainties or questions about your future in New Zealand, contact our team of experienced and knowledgeable Advisers at Professional Visa Solutions. We will share expert advice and guidance with you in a initial consultation. Please book here: -
  • Regularly check our website for news on changes which could impact you and check the MSD link above to ensure your role is on relevant and best-suited lists.
  • If paid below current median wage or above median wage but less than July2021 proposed increase, it is worthwhile having a discussion with your employer at this time as to opportunities for pay increases or advancement toward higher employment position. These areas will put you in good stead for any future changes to immigration criteria with skills-based employment, particularly with median payrate set to rise in July 2021 as a strong indicator of further initiatives geared toward protecting migrants in employment in New Zealand whilst ensuring jobs for New Zealanders are catered for.
  • If you hold a Working Holiday Scheme based Visa, firstly don’t rely on further Covid-19 automatic extensions being given by INZ. If you are employed in a role it is worth considering shifting onto an employer specific visa or undertaking study in New Zealand (although unaffordable for many) if you intend longer-term stay in New Zealand. We are aware that many are employed in the hospitality industry in which many roles fall under the oversupply lists. It is worthwhile speaking with an Adviser to understanding your situation and to gain guidance on a possible way forward.
  • If you are uncertain about your current visa status (particularly whether auto-extension visas apply to you), check your Visa Verification record through INZ Online system. If you think your visa is eligible for an extension that is not showing on your record, INZ now have a process for review by submission of an online form:

  • For employers, if you are worried about retaining your current migrant workforce, or future planning engaging the services of migrants in your business, first read our article on accreditation for all employers coming into effect this year (below link) which gives understanding of how it will work, then seek a discussion with a licenced adviser from our team of professionals to establish your business needs vs. meeting current and future immigration requirements.

  • For applicants, we suggest also reading an earlier blog article on Essential Skills Work Visa current criteria and future changes here:

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