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
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.
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.
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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.
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.
January 9, 2023
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.
January 9, 2023
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.
January 9, 2023
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.
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.
January 9, 2023
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
January 9, 2023
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.
January 9, 2023
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
January 9, 2023
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.
January 9, 2023
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.
January 9, 2023
The Green List
In order to address labour shortages in New Zealand's crucial industries the NZ government has implemented a "Green List" of sought-after high-skill occupations. This list offers a prioritised pathway to residency.
There are qualification and/or occupational registration requirements to meet. Occupations are broken down into two tiers:
Tier 1 - direct pathway to residence
Tier 2 - requires a period of two years or longer before applying
The recent additions in May 2023 across many sectors can be found here