Immigration New Zealand has removed sex workers or escorts from its skilled employment list checker online.

The agency's area manager Stephanie Greathead said the removal of the listing from its list was to "avoid further confusion" that people could get a visa as skilled prostitutes.

The website had previously indicated that sex work/escort is a skilled employment and applicants could claim points if they were paid at or above $36.44 per hour, had a recognised qualification or at least three years of relevant work experience.

It defined a sex worker or escort as someone who provided clients with sexual services or social companionship.

Sex worker shoes at the NZ Prostitutes Collective. Photograph by Greg Bowker.
Sex worker shoes at the NZ Prostitutes Collective. Photograph by Greg Bowker.

"INZ does not grant visas to persons who are intending to provide commercial sexual services," Greathead said.

"This is in line with the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 that states that only New Zealand citizens and residents can legally work in the sex industry. "

Sex worker/escort is on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) list which appeared on the INZ website.

"INZ has no control over the occupations included on this list," Greathead said.

"INZ has removed this occupation from our Skill Shortage List checker to avoid any further confusion that means we would approve a visa for this occupation."

A hospitality worker originally from Brazil who wanted to be known only as Joy said she was disappointed to find the link to the information no longer worked.

People who click on the INZ link will find a notice that says: "Oops! We couldn't find the page you're looking for!"

Joy, who is on a work visa, has worked as an escort for the past three years.


She had hoped to gain extra points from being a skilled escort for her residency application.

"I understand I will not be granted a visa to work as an escort, but I thought that I will be able to gain extra points to help me get my residence visa," Joy said.

She argued that her escort work - which did not include sex with clients - would fit the definition of "providing clients with social companionship".

"My work doesn't involve commercial sexual services and I would argue that it is something perfectly legal for someone on a temporary visa to be doing."