What is the change? Immigration New Zealand has added a new requirement for employers applying for Essential Skills work visas for foreign workers in low-skilled positions.

What does the change mean? As evidence of labour market testing, employers must now obtain a Skills Match Report from Work and Income New Zealand proving that qualified local workers are not available to fill the job.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Essential Skills work visas.
  • Who is affected: Employers applying for new and renewal Essential Skills work visas for low-skilled jobs ranked level 4 or 5 of the New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations. Exemptions include jobs located in Canterbury and jobs on a shortage skills list.
  • Impact on processing times: The additional step means more preparation is required before submitting an application. However, it should result in faster processing of the application.
  • Business impact: New Zealand is being careful to ensure that New Zealanders are not missing out on low-skilled roles before granting work visas to migrant workers.
  • Next steps: Employers renewing or applying for initial Essential Skills work visas may seek assistance from BAL with this new process.

Background: Employers applying for foreign workers to fill low-skilled jobs must work with Work and Income New Zealand to obtain the Skills Match Report before filing an Essential Skills work visa application. Employers in Canterbury are exempt but must work with Canterbury Skills and Employment. Foreign workers whose qualifications meet the criteria of those listed as shortage occupations are also exempt from the Skills Match Report requirement.

BAL Analysis: The change is consistent with recent reforms to attempt to streamline the labour market testing process by enabling employers to obtain feedback from Work and Income New Zealand as to whether the labour market check requirements have been met prior to submission of a work application by a potential employee.

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MARN: 9683856

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