Immigration New Zealand increases minimum income threshold for residency and work visa applications

The Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has quietly increased the minimum income threshold for residency and Essential Skill Work Visa applicants on Wednesday, December 13.

The INZ website mentions that the thresholds are indexed against the New Zealand median income and as previously announced remuneration requirements are to be updated at the end of each calendar year based on New Zealand income data (which is released in September).

This year the changes have been delayed until January to give employers and migrants enough time to adjust to the new thresholds.

The change in threshold, though largely expected as per previous announcements by INZ, would bring further distress to many applicants who are already struggling with the recently introduced minimum income threshold requirement for residency and essential skill work visa.

In April this year the then Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has introduced minimum income threshold of $ 41,537.6 for being eligible for Essential Skill Work Visa.

A minimum income threshold of $48,859.2 was introduced for resident visa application under Skilled Migrant Category (SMC).

Essentially meaning that an applicant seeking residency on the basis of mid-skilled level employment will have to have a minimum annual income of $48,860.

These changes were implemented by INZ from August 15.

Today, INZ has quietly increased the minimum income requirement for essential skill work visa from $41,537.6 to $42,952, and for a resident visa from the current $48,859.2 to $50,523.2.

The annual income is calculated for a standard 40 hour week for 52 weeks in a year.
The changes in minimum income threshold will come into effect from January 15, 2018.

The INZ website says that visas that people already hold will not be affected.

The changes to the income thresholds will not affect the duration or conditions of visas that have already been granted.

However, a new application made on or after 15 January will be assessed against the new threshold.

This may mean the conditions or visa duration of the next visa could be different.

For example, a chef paid $20 an hour would currently be considered mid-skilled, as the occupation is ANZSCO level 2 and the pay is above the existing threshold of $19.97.

However, if he applied for a further visa after 15 January, he would be considered low skilled, unless his pay increased to above the new threshold of $20.65.

Changes in Skilled Migrant Category (Resident Visa)

Threshold Prior to 15 January From 15 January
Threshold for skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 1-3 $23.49 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $24.29 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)

Changes in Essential Skills work visa category

Threshold Prior to 15 January From 15 January
Threshold for mid-skilled employment in an occupation at ANZSCO 1-3 $19.97 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary) $20.65 per hour or above (or the equivalent annual salary)

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