We reported last month the government was set to increase the median wage from $25.50 per hour to $27 per hour. The increase is now confirmed to take effect on Monday, 19 July 2021. The new pay rate will apply to any job offer included in an Essential Skills Work Visa applications or Skilled Migrant Residence Category (points system) lodged from 19 July onwards.
Anyone earning less than $27 per hour (but at least $25.50 per hour or more) should apply NOW to renew their work visa. Once the increase takes effect a person paid less than $27 per hour will only be issued a work visa for 12 months (not 3 years as is the case right now).
The government has temporarily changed the rules to allow people paid less than the median wage to be granted 12 months work visas rather than the normal 6 months. This applies to work visa applications lodged on or before 30 June 2022.
Those in the process of applying under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) are also affected by this change. An Expression of Interest (EOI) sitting in the SMC pool with a job offer paying less than $27 per hour will no longer meet the minimum wage requirement. Anyone affected by this rate rise should be talking to their employers to find out if a pay increase is possible and then update their EOI. The pay rate for certain lower-skilled occupations in this category increase to $40.50 per hour and those claiming bonus points for “high remuneration” will need to be receiving $54 per hour to be eligible for the points.
There is still no news when the government will restart EOI selections from the SMC pool which have been on hold since March 2020. There are close to 10,000 EOIs in the pool. Many migrant workers and their families are suffering from the continued delay and lack of information on the pathway forward.
SMC residence applications already lodged before 19 July are not affected if the pay rate is less than $27 per hour. Immigration NZ is processing non-priority SMC residence applications lodged in September 2019. The queue would move much quicker if the government were to fund more human resource but this seems unlikely for now.
We anticipate remuneration thresholds for priority processing of skilled residence applications and border exemptions (other critical workers) will increase to $54 per hour or $112,320 per annum. No announcement yet.
If you are concerned or want more information contact Malcolm Pacific Immigration to speak with one of our Licensed Immigration Advisers.