Visa News

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.

15/02/20223 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 us today for assistance and keep an eye on our website for updated work visa information.

Latest Updates

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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.

16 May 22

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.
10 Feb 22

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.

16 Dec 21