People wishing to work in New Zealand need to obtain a work visa to be able to do so, BEFORE coming to New Zealand.
If you have a job offer and your skills are needed in New Zealand, you may be granted a work visa. The person offering you employment must have tried, and been unsuccessful, to find a New Zealander to do the job before offering you the position. Getting a work visa may be easier if you have specialist skills matched with qualifications and experience in a field which is listed on the INZ Skills Shortage List.
There are various other reasons you may be granted a work visa, which include coming to New Zealand for a work-related purpose, work after study, a working holiday, or to join your partner. There are other types of work visas available for the horticulture or viticulture industries, religious workers, and foreign crew of fishing vessels.
Each type of work visa has different criteria and application processes. The most commonly used work visas are:
An Essential Skills Work Visa eases the entry of people required to fill skills shortages on a temporary basis. The length of stay can be up to 5 years depending on the skill level of work that is offered to you, and labour market conditions. You will need a full-time job offer from an employer and can study for up to 3 months in any 12 month period, or undertake any study which is considered part of your employment.
If you wish to travel to and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months you must:
Be aged between 18 to 30 years of age (depending on the country you are from);
Provide proof of identity, good health, and good character;
Be a citizen of the country the visa is for and ordinarily resident of that country;
Hold a return ticket or evidence of enough money to pay for one;
Hold enough funds to live on while in New Zealand;
Not have had approval for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa before;
Have genuine intentions, i.e. your main intention is to holiday, and work being a secondary intention to help fund your travels; and
Hold full medical insurance for the length of your stay.
While you are in New Zealand under this visa, you should not undertake permanent employment unless you apply and obtain an actual work visa. For more information on requirements, please click here for the particular working holiday visa scheme from the country you are from.
Note that New Zealand has a reciprocal arrangement with the United Kingdom and Canada, which means that working holidays for citizens of those countries are eligible for 23 month Working Holiday visas.
Work to Residence
With this visa, after you have worked for at least 24 months (according to your visa conditions), you may be able to apply for a resident visa. The following lists work to residence visas available:
Talent (Accredited Employers)
Some employers in New Zealand have attained accredited status. To apply for a Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa you must be under the age of 55, have the required skills or expertise, and have been offered a job from one of these employers; the job offer must be full-time (minimum 30 hours per week). Click here for more information.
Talent (Arts, Culture and Sports)
This visa is suitable if you have exceptional talent in a field of art, culture or sport and are under the age of 55. You will also need to be sponsored by a nationally recognised organisation in your field. Click here for more information.
Long Term Skills Shortage List
New Zealand has a number of skills shortages. If you have qualifications and experience in one of the listed occupations, as well as a job offer in that specific occupation, and you are under the age of 55, you may be able to get a Long Term Skills Shortage Visa. Click here for more information and to check that you meet the necessary criteria.
Entrepreneur Work Visa
With an Entrepreneur visa, you are able to own and operate your business. To apply you will need a minimum of NZ$100,000 to invest in the business including 120 points on the NZ’s points scale. Please see here for more detailed information about this type of work visa.
Post-Study Work Visa (Open)
Once you have completed studies for an acceptable qualification in New Zealand, you can apply for a Post-Study Work visa. Depending on your qualification and where you studied, you can work for any employer for approximately 1-3 years and do almost any work. For more information click here.
Specific Purpose Work Visa
This visa is for people who need to come to New Zealand for a specific purpose or event. The employer must hire you for a specific time period (defined) and you must have the skills relative to your specific purpose or event. Your specialist expertise must be of benefit to New Zealand without taking away opportunities from New Zealanders. For further information click here.
Partner Work Visa
This type of visa will allow you to join your partner in New Zealand to live as well as work and you do not need to have a job offer. The main requirement is to prove that you and your partner have been living in a genuine and stable relationship, as well as providing proof of identity, meeting health and character requirements, your partner having the ability to support you, your partner’s character, and various other criteria. You can study for up to 3 months, and children can not be included in this application - they must apply individually for the specific visa they need based upon their relationship to you.
Partners of New Zealand Citizens or Residence class visa holders
The length of stay for partners of New Zealand citizens or residence visa holders can be up to two years if you have been living with a New Zealand partner for more than 12 months, or one year if you have been living together for less than 12 months.
Work Visa for Partners of holders of Work Visas
If you are the partner of someone who holds a Work Visa, the length of stay is usually the same time as your partner’s work visa. There are a variety of conditions that must be met.
Work Visa for Partners of holders of Student Visas
If your partner holds a Student Visa, your length of stay is usually the same time as that on your partner’s student visa. More information is available here.