The latest raft of changes in the Government's reset of the
permanent visa categories were announced in April 2017. These
changes bring an income threshold for applications under the
Skilled Migrant Category for residence. Jobs that are
considered skilled must meet the New Zealand median income of
$48,859 a year. The other threshold is set at 1.5 times the
New Zealand median income of $73,299 for jobs that are not
considered to be skilled but are well paid. These new rules
will take effect from mid-August 2017.
A job is considered skilled by using a combination of a set list
of identified occupations, and substantially matching the job
description set out in the Australian and New Zealand Standard
Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). For a person to be
considered for one of these skilled jobs, they must have the right
qualification, level of experience and now the right salary.
These changes bring two benefits. The first one is for all
employees who are in roles that migrant workers are also
filling. There are situations where migrants should be
attracting a higher salary than they currently are, but employers
are taking advantage of their vulnerability of needing a job for a
residency application. These lower salaries are in turn
forcing down market rates for non-migrant workers. Setting a
minimum level puts a backstop on any downward trends.
The second benefit is for migrant workers in roles that are
considered unskilled by Immigration New Zealand, but attract a high
salary. These roles often require high levels of experience
and expertise which is the reason behind the higher salary.
These workers are regularly in demand, because of the low numbers
available for employment with these levels of experience.
This new salary threshold allows these non-skilled workers the
opportunity to apply for residency under the Skilled Migrant
category that they did not have before.
These changes, along with the earlier increase of the points
threshold to 160, reflects the Government's emphasis on attracting
migrants with higher skill levels. However, it does mean that
new graduates who may have been studying in New Zealand for several
years will now struggle to gain residency straight after
graduation. With the Government signaling similar income
thresholds for applications under the Essential Skills Work Visa
category, New Zealand is likely to see many international students
having to leave New Zealand once they have completed their
studies. This will potentially take a pool of newly skilled
workers out of the labour market when New Zealand is facing a
shortage. However, it should see a reduced number of students
with low level qualifications whose skills are not in shortage
being able to stay in New Zealand.
If you would like assistance with applying for residency, or any
other immigration matter, contact
Paul Milne or