Work Visa New Zealand: The Complete Guide for Migrants
We’re a firm of licensed immigration advisers in New Zealand. We provide expert work visa NZ services.
February 15, 2022
If you are not a New Zealand native and want to live in New Zealand, one of your options is obtaining a work visa. This allows you to remain in New Zealand for a specific period to work.
Several types of work visas are available for those wanting to work in New Zealand, but navigating them can be tricky.
If you want to be sure that you're going about your work visa situation the right way and have a great chance of success, then you'll have to do some research on work visas, including which ones are available, which ones you qualify for, and what each of them allows.
The Immigration NZ website can be confusing to understand. Luckily, we have done the hard work for you.
Learn about New Zealand work visas and find out everything you'll need to know if you plan on working in New Zealand under a work visa.
What Visas Allow You to Work in NZ?
If you're aiming to work in New Zealand under a work visa, you need to know what visas are available.
Here is a rundown of every type of work-related visa you can acquire when getting ready to work in New Zealand.
Skilled Migrant Category Visa
If you are looking for a more permanent resident solution and want to make New Zealand your long-term home, you will want to look into the skilled migrant category visa. This visa is available to individuals with skills that are in demand.
The Points Test
A points test will be required to prove you have the skills New Zealand is looking for. The number of points you need to qualify changes regularly, so keep up to date on the latest requirements.
You can live and work in New Zealand indefinitely if granted a skilled migrant resident visa. You may have the option of bringing your family with you under this type of visa.
Accredited Employer Work Visa
An accredited employer work visa allows those approved by Immigration New Zealand to stay in the country for up to 3 years.
Work visa applicants must have a job offer in the New Zealand workforce by a company with employer accreditation offering work visa holders at least 30 hours per week. This is only attainable through an accredited employer.
This visa category has now closed but if you hold one of these visas you can keep working. Next time you wnat to renew your work visa it will be an Accredioted Employer Work Visa you apply for.
Partnership Visa (NZ Partner)
Partners of New Zealand residents can apply for a Partnership visa. They need to prove that they are in a stable, genuine relationship and then can apply to work and live in New Zealand.
This covers two situations:
If the applicant has lived with a New Zealand partner for less than 12 months, you may qualify for a 12-month visitor or work visa.
If you have been together with your New Zealand partner for 12 months or more, you may qualify for an extended work visa of 24 months.
Professional advice and support to satisfy the requirements of this immigration process are advisable as this can be an emotionally charged process. Applicants must provide substantiating evidence of their relationship and be of good health and character for this application process.
Partnership Visa (Non-NZ Partner)
The partner of a migrant worker can apply for a Non-NZ Citizen Partnership Visa, allowing them to also support their family. However, the primary migrant worker must secure a job and visa before the partner's application.
The primary migrant worker and their partner need to supply evidence that they are in a ‘genuine and stable’ relationship and satisfy Immigration New Zealand’s requirements of being of good health and character.
The partner, once accepted, has no restrictions on where they work, and the visa length will be the same as the primary visa holder. However, it is invaluable to talk to an immigration adviser regarding the current situation as changes can occur. Ensuring that you have current information is essential when it comes to moving countries.
Specific Purpose Work Visa
If you are travelling to New Zealand to perform a role, you will need to apply for a Visa for a Specific Purpose or Event. It’s usually a situation where you are paid off-shore. However, the skills you hold mean that you travel to New Zealand to perform a specific task.
This situation includes skills such as:
Large companies or special projects requiring executives or workers with specific skills, entertainers and their crew, professional sportspeople etc.
Immigration Advisers are key to visa applications for work events as they can help streamline and speed up the process.
Talent Visa (Arts, Culture and Sport)
People with an international reputation in the worlds of Arts, Sport or Culture can apply for Talent Visas as a pathway to residence. Application for this visa can be lengthy, and the threshold high. The applicant will need documented records of their international success and support from a recognised New Zealand national body and a personal sponsor.
Domestic Staff of Diplomat Visa
If you are a domestic worker for a diplomat, you may be eligible for a domestic staff of diplomat visa. This visa allows you to work in New Zealand for up to five years.
You will need a letter from your employer stating that you will be working in New Zealand as a diplomat. You will also need to prove you have a clean criminal record and good health.
If you want to renew your domestic staff of diplomat visa, you'll need to provide a letter from your employer stating that they are still employed as a diplomat and are still assigning you to work in New Zealand.
Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand
A working holiday visa may be available if you are between 18 and 30 years old (up to 35 for some selected countries). Those who qualify can stay in New Zealand for up to twelve months and work for any employer.
Sometimes working in New Zealand can open your eyes to wanting to study, which you can also stay in New Zealand and do with a student visa. Learn more about that on our student visa page.
Working holiday visas are common for workers and professionals. Only a certain number of these visas are available for overseas workers each year. Securing one of these visas is restricted to certain nationalities who will be able to obtain a working holiday visa to work in New Zealand.
Working Holiday Extension Visa
If you have already been granted this visa and want to extend your stay, you may be eligible for visa extensions. This visa allows you to stay in New Zealand for up to twelve months.
To qualify, you'll need to provide evidence that you have completed at least three months of specified work while on your working holiday visa. Specified work can include:
Seasonal work in the horticulture or viticulture industries
This is a great way to continue working your New Zealand job without going through the standard visa work holiday and visa application process again.
Crew Joining a Ship or Plane Visitor Visa
If you are a crew member of a ship or plane visiting New Zealand, you may be eligible for a crew joining a ship or plane visitor visa. This visitor visa allows you to stay in New Zealand for up to three months.
To obtain this visa and follow the visa conditions, you must provide evidence you are employed as part of the crew.
It might not be suitable for people who need to stay in New Zealand for longer than three months since you will need to apply for a different visa.
Entertainers Work Visa
This visa is the best choice for people working as an entertainer in New Zealand for a short period.
An entertainer's work visa allows you to stay in New Zealand for up to three months while you work as an entertainer.
To qualify for this visa, you must provide evidence of your employment as an entertainer. This could include a contract from your employer or a letter from an agent.
A religious worker can apply for a work visa if their experience supports a religious group. Applications for this are advised to go through an Immigration adviser as the requirements also involve sponsorship.
This visa is also a pathway to residency.
Fishing Crew Visa
If you are employed as part of the crew of a fishing vessel, then you may be eligible for a fishing crew visa. This visa allows you to stay in New Zealand for up to three months.
You must prove that you are employed as part of the crew to obtain this visa.
Business Visitor Visa
You don't have to be employed full-time or part-time by a New Zealand company to get a visa for work. You can come to New Zealand as a business visitor.
There are different types of business visitors, such as:
People coming to conduct negotiations or sign contracts
People coming to take part in conferences or seminars
Salespeople and marketing executives visiting potential customers
Trainers conducting courses for New Zealand-based staff
Auditors and company examiners
If you want to come to New Zealand as a business visitor, you'll need to apply for a Business Visitor Visa. The requirements for this visa vary depending on your nationality.
You can find out if you need a visa and what the requirements for that visa will be on the immigration NZ website.
Post-Study Work Visa
If you have studied at a New Zealand institution for at least two years, often through a student visa, you may be eligible for a Post Study Work Visa. This visa allows you to stay in New Zealand for up to three years after finishing your studies.
Student And Trainee Visa
This visa allows overseas students the opportunity to complete practical training and work experience in their related field of study. Work visas are issued to students whose work experience is integral to their qualifications.
Specialist Work Visas
Specialist work visas are available in some rare cases, specifically intended to support primary industries and some cases of hospitality. These specialist visas often come with the required qualifications and/or experience.
Other specialist visas include
Viticulture Seasonal Workers
Work to Residence Visa
Work to Residence Visas were often the first choice if you want to make New Zealand your home and become a permanent resident.
However, applicants also had the opportunity to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa, as long as the application was submitted by 31 July 2022, allowing them to live and work in New Zealand indefinitely with this visa.
The Work to Residence visa is closed unless you have already held this visa, are reapplying and are waiting for a residence from work visa or have been unable to return to New Zealand due to the closed border.
If you missed out, look into the new Residence from Work Visa and see if you meet the criteria. Read more about the new work visas with potential pathways to work below or by contacting a licensed immigration adviser.
Residence From Work
The Residence from Work Visa is like a replacement for the old Work to Residence Visa, which closed this year in 2022.
There are various requirements for an applicant applying for a Residence from Work visa type, including fulfilling mandatory health and character requirements and English language conditions – applicants' eligibility depends on their skill set, career and experience, and qualifications.
Talent Visa (Arts, Culture and Sports)
Applicants who have contributed their talent to New Zealand for two years or longer may be considered for residence. However, high thresholds of talent or excellence are required, and this policy is not often used.
Under some circumstances, religious organisations can apply for Work Visas for religious workers.
From July/August 2022, applicants paid 200%, or more of the median wage may qualify for residence after 24 months of employment.
What are the requirements for applying for a visa?
The requirements for getting a visa vary drastically depending on your applying visa. However, some requirements are shared throughout the different visa applications.
- A valid passport from your home country is required. In addition, your transcripts or diploma will be required as proof of your qualifications.
- A New Zealand employer must offer you employment if you apply for a skilled migrant visa.
- Your English language skills will also need to be demonstrated, often through tests like the IELTS or TOEFL.
During your stay in New Zealand, you must prove you have enough money to support yourself. One way to do this is to provide bank statements or a letter from your sponsor.
Another requirement is to have a clean criminal record. In addition, you may be required to provide a police certificate from your home country and other countries you have lived in over the past five years.
You may also be required to have a medical examination. However, this is usually only required if you are applying for a long-term work visa or are from a country with a high incidence of infectious diseases.
How to Apply For a Work Visa in NZ
To apply for a work visa in New Zealand, you need to follow a series of steps and meet specific requirements. Here's a general overview of the process:
Determine your eligibility: Check if you meet the eligibility criteria for a New Zealand work visa. Factors such as your skills, qualifications, job offer, and employer sponsorship will affect your eligibility.
Find a job offer: Look for a job in New Zealand and secure a job offer from an employer. Employers in New Zealand must generally demonstrate that they couldn't find a suitable New Zealand citizen or resident for the position before offering it to a foreign worker.
Understand visa options: Explore the various work visa options available in New Zealand. The most common types include Essential Skills Work Visa, Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa, and Accredited Employer Work Visa.
Gather documents: Collect all the necessary documents for your visa application. The specific requirements may vary based on the type of work visa you are applying for, but generally, you'll need your passport, proof of job offer, evidence of qualifications, and potentially other supporting documents.
Complete the application form: Fill out the relevant application form for your chosen work visa category. You can find these forms on the official website of Immigration New Zealand.
Pay the application fee: Pay the required application fee, which can vary depending on the type of work visa you're applying for.
Submit your application: Submit your completed application form, supporting documents, and payment to Immigration New Zealand. You can typically apply online, but there may be circumstances where you need to submit a physical application.
Wait for a decision: After submitting your application, you'll need to wait for Immigration New Zealand to process it. The processing times can vary, so it's important to be patient during this stage.
Provide additional information: Immigration New Zealand may request additional information or documents during the processing of your application. Make sure to promptly provide any requested information to avoid delays.
Receive a decision: Once a decision has been made on your work visa application, you'll be notified by Immigration New Zealand. If approved, you'll receive your work visa.
Create An Immigration NZ Account
When you create an account on Immigration New Zealand's website, you can fill out your application and apply online.
You must provide personal information such as your name, date of birth, and contact information. Your education and work experience will also be required.
Upon completing your application, you will need to pay the application fee. Fees vary depending on the visa you apply for.
Your application will be processed, and you will be contacted for an interview. The interview is usually conducted over the phone or via Skype.
A work visa will be issued to you if your application is approved. Your visa will be valid for a specific time based on your approved visa type.
New Zealand Work Visa 2023 Recap
Here is a quick recap of the main points covered about work visas:
There are many different work visas, and each has different requirements.
You will need a valid passport and evidence of your qualifications and English language skills to apply for a work visa.
Create an account on the Immigration New Zealand website to start your visa application.
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.
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