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Work Visa Information.

Here we share some general information about Work Visa policy. This does not replace or constitute immigration advice from a licensed immigration adviser.

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Work Visas.

Work Visas often have strict conditions set out on the visa document itself. Often this includes a restriction to work in a certain occupation, for a specific employer and in a particular region of New Zealand. These conditions must be complied with. If you want any changes, take advice.

Essential Skills.

This is the most popular work visa for people offered jobs in New Zealand. The critical aspects for approval are that the employer can provide they were unable to find Kiwis to fill the role and the migrant worker is suitably qualified or experienced to do the job. This visa will be phased out in July 2022 and replaced with the "Accredited Employer Work Visa". Current requirements are:

  • Applicant must hold a firm offer of employment.

  • The job offered must pass a “Labour Market Test” to ensure no New Zealander is available to fill the position UNLESS the applicant’s qualifications and the offer of employment are an exact match to one of the lists of skill shortages published from time to time by Immigration New Zealand.

  • The applicant must demonstrate both qualifications and skills required for the job and be of good character and health.

  • Minimum income thresholds apply to job offers, and these determine whether family members can join the applicant or not.

  • There are restrictions on how long these visas are valid.

Useful Information

The Malcolm Pacific Immigration team of advisers and experts take away the stress and worry of navigating the complex world of New Zealand work visas, policies, and immigration.

Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)

In July 2022, the AEWV will replace a number of current work visas. In order to apply for an AEWV, an applicant must hold a job offer from a New Zealand employer who is accredited by the NZ government.

Employers apply separately to become accredited, and that application needs to be approved before a work visa application is lodged. The employer will apply for the job offer you received to be cleared by Immigration NZ before you apply. This will include satisfying the government there are no suitable NZ citizens or residents available to fill the job. The main criteria are:

  • Hold a firm job offer precleared by Immigration NZ

  • Prove you are suitably qualified and experienced to undertake the job you have been offered.

  • Be of good health and character.

  • The visa will have an expiry date usually linked to the rate of pay.

Partnership Visa (NZ Partner).

In the real world, love has no barriers, but in the immigration world, there are borders to cross. This can be an emotionally charged process when a New Zealander has fallen in love with someone from overseas. There are no shortcuts, and taking advice right at the beginning will save a lot of heartache, time and money.

  • If an applicant has lived together with a New Zealand partner for less than 12 months, a 12-month work or visitor visa may be available.

  • If an applicant has lived together with a New Zealand partner for 12 months or longer, a 24-month work visa may be available.

  • In both cases, the applicant must satisfy Immigration New Zealand that they are in a “genuine and stable” relationship with a New Zealander and must demonstrate the duration of the relationship to the satisfaction of Immigration New Zealand and be of good health and character.

Note: These policies can be used to assist couples who do not immediately meet “duration” requirements or who are still collating evidence to support arguments of “genuineness or stability” in the context of a Residence application.

Partnership Visa (Non-NZ Partner).

Often, once a migrant worker secures a job in New Zealand, their partner is just as keen to start working. The benefit of a "Partnership Visa" is that there are no restrictions on what job, employer or area of New Zealand the partner can work. The government has signalled a change to this visa, and it may become more difficult to secure in the future.

  • Partners of non-New Zealanders who hold a Work Visa may be eligible for a work visa for the same duration as their partner’s work visa.

  • The applicant must satisfy Immigration New Zealand they are in a “genuine and stable” relationship, to the satisfaction of Immigration New Zealand, and be of good health and character.

  • In some cases, income thresholds of the migrant worker are a requirement before a partnership visa is issued.

Visa For Specific Purpose Or Event.

These are specialist work visas that cater to multiple situations usually where a person is still paid offshore. From a concert player to installing a high tech printer or the new CEO of a multinational. The types of skills that may qualify for this visa include:

  • Executives and workers with specialist skills working for larger companies or on special projects.

  • Sports players, coaches, referees, show judges.

  • Persons installing specialist machinery.

  • Entertainers, performing artists, film crews.

Take professional advice to see if this is the right visa for you or your business.

Work To Residence.

Any person on a work visa may be eligible to apply for residence under normal residence policy. There is a special pathway to residence for the following work visas:

  • Talent Visa (Arts, Culture and Sport).

  • Religious Worker Visa.

  • Accredited Employer Work Visa (limited availability - take advice).

For holders of the above work visas, residence can follow after 2 or 3 years of employment, subject to good health and character, and meeting a number of other specific requirements. Refer to "Residence from Work" in the "Residence Visas" section of this website.

Note 1. In all cases, applicants must be of good character and health. A medical or character waiver can be made in special cases.

Note 2. Because of the specialist nature of the activities involved, unique procedures need to be followed in some cases.

Applicants and employers should seek professional advice because there are multiple complexities involved.

Talent Visas (Arts, Culture and Sport).

A pathway to residence for people who have an international reputation in the area of Arts, Sport or Culture. To apply for this visa, a person will need the support of a recognised New Zealand national body and a personal sponsor. The threshold for this visa is high, and applicants will need to document their track record of international success.

  • Applicants may be considered for a Work visa based on their talent in the fields of Arts, Culture or Sport if supported by a relevant organisation of “national repute.”

  • The Applicant must be of good character and health.

Post-Study Work Visa.

After all the hard study is done and dusted, there is a limited opportunity to work to gain some local experience before heading home. The type of New Zealand qualification completed will determine how long a work visa is valid.

  • After finishing study in certain approved courses, some applicants may be eligible for a work visa valid for between 12 to 36 months (depending on the type qualification completed), enabling work in any job.

  • Applicants must be of good character and be in good health.

Note: Eligibility can depend on how the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has assessed a particular course. Assessments can change, and some agents selling courses, or students giving advice to each other, can cause confusion, leading to big problems and disappointments for students. Take professional advice.

Working Holiday Visas.

Designed to attract young people to New Zealand looking for an action-packed adventure with the opportunity to work simultaneously. A great way to explore the country, meet new people and earn money to support your travel.

  • There are more than 40 countries with which New Zealand now has reciprocal arrangements offering opportunities for young travellers.

  • There is normally an age limit of 18 – 30.

  • In many cases, places are limited by quota - first come, first served.

  • Must not undertake permanent employment.

  • Applicants to be of good health and character.

Religious Worker.

Allows the recruitment of experienced religious workers to support the efforts of community religious groups.

  • Under some circumstances, religious organisations can apply for Work Visas for religious workers.

  • Must be sponsored.

  • Applicants to be of good health and character.

  • Pathway to residence.

Student And Trainee Visa.

An opportunity for overseas students to complete course-related practical training or work experience in the New Zealand environment. A great way to get some overseas experience.

  • Work visas can be issued to support students for whom work training is an integral part of their qualification. Examples include Medical and Dental trainees and Jockeys.

Specialist Work Visa Categories.

These visas support local primary industries and, in some limited cases, hospitality. Quotas may apply along with qualification and/or experience requirements.

  • Other specialist visas include Horticultural and Viticulture Seasonal Workers and Foreign Crews of Fishing Vessels.

  • Accommodation and repatriation obligations on employers may apply.

Get started with a FREE consultation today

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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

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