Guide on Essential Skills Work Visa

If you have a full-time offer of employment from a New Zealand employer, you may be eligible to apply for this visa.

If you want to learn about Essential Skills Work Visa, you've come to the right place.

This guide has everything you need to understand the basics of Essential Skills Work Visa. You'll also find links to useful resources from our blog and video throughout, so you can plan your next steps.

What is it?

This category allows New Zealand employers to connect with overseas (non-residents) talents using essential skills work visa if the positions that they are offering cannot readily be filled by the local workforce (New Zealand citizens or residents).

Immigration New Zealand in administering these instructions must, however, ensure that New Zealand workforce is not likely to be displaced from employment opportunities. As there are appropriate checks in place for that purpose, you will need to demonstrate that you have cleared all the hoops and hurdles.

You will need to satisfy each of the following requirements:

  • meet general requirements; and
  • meet work experience/qualification requirements; and
  • meet labour market requirements; and
  • meet employer requirements.

Let's take a look at each of them in turn.

What are the requirements?


General requirements include paying correct application fee, using prescribed Immigration New Zealand form, meeting health/character requirements, and being a 'bona fide' (genuine) applicant.

Work experience and qualification

You must be suitably qualified by training and experience to undertake the position on offer. Immigration New Zealand uses Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (known as 'ANZSCO') to establish what kind of work experience and/or qualification is required for a particular occupation. You will have to meet the requirements as per the ANZSCO description for the essential skills work visa.

Labour market test

Your employer must have made a "genuine attempt" to attract and recruit suitable New Zealand citizens or residence visa holders and must have established that there are no suitable New Zealand citizen or resident applicants before deciding to offer you the position. If the vacancy was advertised, the requirements stipulated must be those necessary to perform the work, and the terms of employment must not be less than those of the New Zealand market, including the rate of pay being within market range for the occupation.

Compliant employer

All offers of employment must be genuine and sustainable, and the employer must be compliant with relevant New Zealand employment and immigration laws. If an employer employs people who do not have the appropriate authority to work for that employer in New Zealand, the employer may be liable for prosecution under s350 of the Immigration Act 2009.

author headshot Michael Yoon
Last modified on 11 January 2024 by
Michael Yoon
Michael has been working as a lawyer in New Zealand since 2006. Over the years, he has successfully helped thousands of clients to get their desired outcome. Clients find Michael knowledgeable, approachable and professional — a trusted expert.

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