New Zealand to hike median wage rate to $31.61 an hour

Does increase apply to Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme?

New Zealand to hike median wage rate to $31.61 an hour

The New Zealand government is hiking to $31.61 an hour the median wage rate for some visa categories starting February 28.

In an announcement from Immigration NZ (INZ), the following systems will be impacted:

  • Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa
  • Green List Straight to Residence Visa
  • Work to Residence Visa
  • Parent Category residence class visa

The wage threshold for the Transport Sector Work to Residence Visa will also be hiked in line with the new median wage, excluding bus drivers, according to Immigration NZ.

Wage thresholds are the rates that INZ use to calculate entitlement to some visas.

"The wage threshold is the lowest amount you can be paid to be granted the visa, unless your role has an exemption," the INZ website read.

"We use wage thresholds as an indicator of the skill level of the job. The rates are updated regularly to keep up with inflation."

Wage threshold hike pause for AEWV

Meanwhile, the increase in the median wage rate will not apply to the threshold imposed on the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) after the government paused it in December at $29.66 an hour.

The government said the pause also extends to AEWV-linked work visas include:

  • the Partner of a Worker Work Visa
  • Variation of conditions for AEWVs, legacy Essential Skills work visas, interim visas granted under the Skilled Migrant Category, and Partner of a Worker work visas
  • Subsequent Migrant Exploitation Protection Visas

"This pause allows time for decisions to be taken on alternatives to the median wage threshold to ensure it is attracting the workers New Zealand needs and filling genuine skill shortages," the INZ announcement read.

According to the agency, migrant workers who are under the paused wage rate of $29.66 an hour can continue receiving work experience for Skilled Residence despite the wage requirement hike.

It noted, however, that these workers will need to look for a job or offer that meets the skilled residence pathway rate at the time they apply.

"Migrants who do not yet hold an AEWV and are looking to apply for one of the Skilled Residence pathways in the future should note that to meet eligibility they will be required to meet the higher threshold (NZD$31.61 an hour) rather than the lower one they need for an AEWV," the government said.

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