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Your Guide to Choose the Right Work Visa

There are many types of NZ work visas that allow international travellers to work in the country, but which is the right option for you? We help you decide.
February 15, 2022
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5
 min read
Your Guide to Choose the Right Work Visa

New Zealand is a great place to work and gain memorable new life experiences. With the New Zealand border reopening in 2022 people may be considering working in New Zealand. There are many work visas in New Zealand that allow international travellers to work in this beautiful country, but which is the right option for you? We compare different types of NZ work visas and the key factors to consider before deciding which is right for you.


Key Factors to Consider

Each work visa has specific requirements that you’ll need to meet and prepare for, and some applications will take longer to process than others. There are therefore several factors that may impact your decision when choosing a visa.

The first factor to consider is the length of your stay in New Zealand. Are you planning on only working for a year or less, or perhaps you want to stay in the country indefinitely? Do you want the opportunity to apply for residence? Some temporary visas may lead to residency. Do you want to bring your family with you? Some work visas allow you to include family members in your application and some don't. There will be changes to some types of work visas during 2022 so keeping up to date with the latest news is paramount.

You’ll also need to carefully consider when you intend to travel to New Zealand, which could be affected by whether you already have a job offer and current border settings. Allow enough time to prepare all relevant documentation. Speaking with a licensed immigration adviser in NZ early on can help to speed the process along.


Types of NZ Work Visas: What are the Options?

With so many options to choose from, selecting the right work visa to apply for your particular situation can be a difficult decision. But it’s important to apply for the right one. No matter what visa you’re applying for, you’ll need to be of good health and character for your application to be accepted. The most common work visa types include:


Essential Skills Visa

The Essential Skills Visa is for those who hold a firm offer of full-time employment in New Zealand from a specific employer that meets minimum income thresholds. If you meet the income threshold, have the necessary skills and qualifications, and meet the health and character requirements, you can include your family in your application. Employers need to prove that there are no New Zealanders available to fill the job. This visa is not a guaranteed pathway to residency, but you can apply to extend your stay with another essential skills visa or another type of work visa but time limits usually apply. The Essential Skills work visa will be phased out in July 2022 to be replaced with the Accredited Employer Work Visa.


Work to Residence Visa

If you want to become a NZ resident and you are not eligible for the Skilled Migrant Category, the NZ Work to Residence Category maybe an ideal alternative. The Work to Residence Visa offers a pathway to residency for those who want to work in New Zealand indefinitely. To apply for this visa, you will need to have worked in the country for two full years and meet the specified requirements based on age, health, marital status, and circumstances of employment. While this visa is temporarily paused expected changes when it does reopen in 2022 include a requirement to earn double the median wage in order to qualify. There are also pathways in this category for internationally recognised sports players, artists, and those with prominence in cultural pursuits who are sponsored by NZ recognised national bodies (such as sporting, art and cultural organisations etc).


Family Work Visa

If you are in a partnership with a NZ citizen or resident then it is possible to apply for a Partner Work Visa valid for 12 or 24 months. This visa will allow you to work in any job for any employer in any part of New Zealand. If the plan is to remain long term in New Zealand then you can apply for residence based on your partnership. For migrant workers holding temporary work visas they may bring their partners (and children) with them. The partner can secure work rights to allow them to work lawfully anywhere in the country and in any occupation. The migrant worker will be expected to be earning above a minimum income threshold in order to bring family with them. The government has signalled potential changes for partners of migrant workers securing work rights which are expected to make it harder not easier for partners to hold work rights. The timing of any of these applications is important to ensure families do not become separated.


Working Holiday Visa

The Working Holiday Visa allows people from over 40 countries to travel to New Zealand and work in the country for up to a year. People from the UK or Canada can stay for up to 23 months. This visa is ideal for young travellers who want the flexibility to work for any employer in New Zealand on a non-permanent basis while enjoying an extended holiday in New Zealand. There is an age limit of 18-30 and in some cases, places are limited by a quota — first come, first served. If you decide that you want to stay in New Zealand for longer than your visa allows, you may be able to apply for another visa but take advice early on.


NZ Border Reopening

The NZ border has been closed since March 2020. It will now reopen in stages during 2022. The first step in the reopening plan starts in late February and carries through until October. Certain visa categories will open to applications progressively during the year. More detail of the border reopening plan can be found here.

Need a Work Visa? Contact Malcolm Pacific Immigration for Assistance

Malcolm Pacific Immigration handles all types of work visas and can help you through the complicated application process. Get in touch with our immigration advisers today for assistance and keep an eye on our website for updated work visa information.

Get started with a FREE consultation today

Our highly experienced licensed Immigration team will take away the stress and worry of navigating the complicated world of New Zealand Immigration. All you need to do is get in touch. Our team is on standby, ready to help.

Get started with a FREE consultation today

Our highly experienced licensed Immigration team will take away the stress and worry of navigating the complicated world of New Zealand Immigration. All you need to do is get in touch. Our employer team is on standby, ready to help.

Latest Updates

Our team keep ahead of all the latest immigration developments and post updates regularly. Stay up to date by signing up to our newsletter and get these updates directly to your inbox.

Our team keep ahead of all the latest employment and immigration law developments and post updates regularly. Stay up to date by signing up to our newsletter and get these updates directly to your inbox.

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Update

Migrant Worker Residence

Today the government announced a pathway to residence for migrant workers who are living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave who are eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else they will miss out on this one off opportunity.

July 8, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrants Opportunity

Today the government announced a pathway to residence for people living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else you miss the boat.

July 8, 2022
Update

New Employer Accreditation Process

The government has moved the introduction of the new employer accreditation process across to mid-2022. At the same time, the Minister of Immigration announced new work visa rules for migrant workers who are already in New Zealand and working full time.

July 8, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government has increased the median wage to $27 per hour from 19 July. Any Skilled Migrant residence application lodged after this date will need to include a skilled job offer that pays at least $27 per hour. For some lower-skilled occupations, the minimum pay rate increases to $40.50 per hour.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 19 July 2021

  • The median wage used to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications increases from $25.50 per hour to $27 per hour.
  • Applicants paid below the median wage may be granted a work visa for up to 24 months. The usual 6-month visa validity restriction is suspended until mid-2022.
  • In certain cases, the labour market test is waived and in some cases, it will still apply.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 30 June 2021

  • Employer Accreditation and Approval in Principle applications are now closed.
  • No new Employer Accreditation applications (including renewals) will be accepted until the new process goes live in mid-2022.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Employer Accreditation Becomes Mandatory

Employers of migrant workers must become accredited from 1 November 2021 before work visa applications can be processed. Most employers are not accredited. Those that are accredited will have to roll into the new system when it goes live in late September.

July 8, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From mid-2020 (delayed)

  • Government to negotiate and introduce Industry Sector agreements setting minimum conditions for industries that heavily rely on overseas workers. Sectors include; residential care, meat processing, dairy, forestry, road freight transport, tourism, and hospitality. Construction, horticulture, and viticulture may also be included.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

Skilled occupation "Dairy Cattle Farmer" spilt into three occupations. New occupations are: "Dairy Farm Manager", "Assistant Dairy Farm Manager" and "Dairy Herd Manager". Each sit at different skill levels, therefore, the award of points will depend on pay rates, job tasks and other requirements.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 15 February 2021

  • Dairy Cattle Farmer job offers are now assessed by three new occupation descriptions: Dairy Farm Manager, Assistant Dairy Farm Manager and Dairy Herd Manager. Pay rates and job tasks will determine how long a work visa is valid. Take advice.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool for six months (to be reviewed in April 2021). Invitations to Apply for Residence remain suspended. The last selection from the Skilled Migrant pool took place on 18/03/2020.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 7 October 2020

  • Introduction of "Oversupply" and "Undersupply" occupation lists used to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications when a job offer pays less than the median wage.
  • Employers offering jobs to migrant workers where an occupation is on the "Oversupply" list will not get Skill Match reports issued by Work & Income. Solid evidence of genuine attempts to find a local to fill the job will be critical for approval.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government added four new occupations that are now regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. These are:

Aged or disabled carer, Bicycle mechanic, Driller and Nursing Support worker.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 27 July 2020

  • Essential Skills work visa applications are now assessed based on the current median wage (NZD $25.50 or more per hour.).
  • Job offers paying below the median wage require employers to pass the labour market test* and secure a Skills Match Reports from WINZ (work visas granted for a maximum of 6 months).

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

Anyone invited by Immigration NZ to apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category where their invitation is dated between 1 November 2019 and 15 April 2020 (inclusive) has now been granted an additional six months to lodge their residence application.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 27 May 2020​

  • Regional Skill Shortage List goes live. 15 regions around New Zealand list occupations reflecting local skill shortages in each region. The labour market test is not mandatory provided the job offer matches the occupation and region plus the visa applicant has qualifications and/or work experience set out on the list.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool. This means Invitations to Apply for Residence are also suspended. Malcolm Pacific Immigration does not anticipate selections to resume until after the general election held on 17 October 2020.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

Immigration NZ is now prioritising Skilled Migrant Residence applications where the main (principal) applicant meets the criteria:

  • Has employment paying double the median wage which is currently NZD $51 per hour OR NZD $106,800 per annum; OR Has New Zealand occupational registration and is required to hold valid registration to lawfully carry out their job.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 24 February 2020

  • Wage or salary thresholds increase for Essential Skills Work Visas applications lodged on or after 24/02/2020 (labour market tested; read more here).
  • Higher Skilled employment increases to $38.25 or more per hour ($79,560 per annum*)
  • Mid Skilled Employment increases to $21.68 or more per hour ($45,094 per annum*)

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 7 October 2019

  • Base salary to qualify for a Work to Residence Visa (WTR) supported by an accredited employer increases from $55,000 per annum to $79,560 per annum (or $38.25 per hour).
  • Pay rates for WTR visas are now reviewed annually.
  • Work visa applicants paid less than $79,560 per annum by accredited employers need to apply under other work visa categories.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government recently added more occupations that are now to be regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. In order to qualify for points, the job must be paying at least the current median wage (or higher for certain occupations) at the time the residence application is lodged.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 1 November 2021

  • Work to Residence Visa (Accredited Employer and Long Term Skill Shortage) applications close.
  • Applications lodged on or before 31 October 2021 will be processed under current visa settings.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Mandatory Vaccination Required for Travel

From 1 November 2021 anyone who is not a NZ citizen must be fully vaccinated (unless exempt) before travelling to New Zealand. Fully vaccinated means your last dose of vaccine was given at least 14 days before travelling and it was an approved vaccine.

July 8, 2022
Update

Employer Accreditation

Applications for employer accreditation closed at the end of June 2021. Applications lodged before the closure date are still being processed. New applications for accreditation open on 9 May 2022. The process will be quite different to what employers have experienced in the past. Businesses will need to meet minimum standards.

July 26, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

Wednesday, 1 December is fast approaching and it is estimated that around 16,000 individuals and families can apply in the first wave for the 2021 Resident Visa opening next month. It is exciting for the thousands of people who have been waiting patiently to become residents that finally the finish line is in sight.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The first wave of applicants can apply from 1 December 2021. Around 16,000 applications are expected in this first wave. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. In total, the government expects approximately 110,000 applications that will include about 165,000 people.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The second group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 March 2022 are those who hold an eligible work visa and either meet "Settled", "Skilled" or "Scarce" as set out above. In total Immigration NZ estimate around 110,000 people will qualify to apply for this visa.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The first group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 December 2021 are those that on 29/09/2021:

  • Had lodged a residence application under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) or Residence from Work category; OR Had lodged an SMC Expression of Interest (EOI) in the SMC pool that included at least one dependent child aged 17 or above.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

Is this the only requirement to qualify for residence? No. In addition to the eligible work visa criteria workers also need to be regarded as one of the following:

  1. Settled.
  2. Skilled.
  3. Scarce.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

People who were lawfully in NZ (or in Australia when the travel bubble closed between April and July 2021) on 29/09/2021 need to meet the visa eligibility criteria:

  • Workers in NZ who held an eligible work visa on or before 29/9/2021 and on the day they apply for residence; OR Applied for an eligible work visa on or before 29/9/2021 and the work visa application is subsequently approved and still hold an eligible work visa on the day they apply for residence.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The government has introduced a limited pathway to residence for people who are already living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave of people eligible to apply. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. The deadline to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa is 31 July 2022.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Critical Purpose Visitor Visas

A small number of critical health workers (taking up jobs for six months or longer) or specialist workers (taking up jobs that are for longer than six months) who were granted border exemptions may also have eligibility for the 2021 Resident Visa. They will need to have arrived in NZ and lodge a 2021 Resident Visa application.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Policy Decision Key Dates in 2022

  • July 4. Applications open for the new Accredited Employer Work Visa.
  • July 31. Applications for the 2021 Resident Visa close.
  • August. Skilled Migrant Residence category scheduled to reopen.
  • August. A new pathway to residence for people earning 200% or more of the median wage.

*Excludes high-risk countries.

July 8, 2022
Update

Policy Decision Key Dates in 2022

  • February 13. Fully vaccinated Kiwis plus certain other travellers entering NZ from the rest of the world* can skip MIQ.
  • April 30. The border starts a phased reopen to fully vaccinated foreign nationals.
  • April 30. The Productivity Commission reports back to the government on immigration settings.
  • May 9. Applications open for mandatory Employer Accreditation.

*Excludes high-risk countries.

July 8, 2022
Update

Work Visa Categories Closing

The work visa categories set to close are:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa – approval in principle
  • Work to Residence (Talent – Accredited Employer)
  • Work to Residence (Long Term Skills Shortage)
  • Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa (closed October 2019)
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Work Visa.
July 8, 2022
Update

The Green List

From September 2022 people holding job offers in a small number of occupations may apply for residence. Some occupations are a direct pathway to residence and others require a period of two years or longer before applying.

There are qualification and/or occupational registration requirements to meet. Establishing if an overseas qualification matches the NZ equivalent qualification before applying is paramount for success.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
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