Work visas

if you are planning to work in New Zealand, you will usually need a visa to be able to do so legally. After Covid-19 any visas that are work related are getting treated very toughly. In the past getting a work visa is only as difficult as meeting the criteria for the visa, which could have been easy or difficult depending on the factors involved. However the current situation means that if the application is lacking in any small detail it is much more likely to be declined. 



Essential skills work visa

This is the most common category for most work visa applications. Post Covid-19 the burden of proof is very high. This category requires that you have work experience, qualifications and a job offer to be successful. it also requires that your job is skilled and that there are no New Zealanders available for this kind of work. This usually means that it at least skill level 3 or higher, buit it is posible to get a  shorter term work visa for lower skilled jobs in many cases.

  • Skilled job
  • Qualifications and / or work experience
  • Job offer

There are many steps to an essential skills application that must be coordinated properly with the employer, the applicant and MSD. there are also requirements dependent on which region of New Zealand your job is for. 

Common problems with essential skills applications

The most common problem we see is that the advertising or job description is not done properly by the employer. Many Kiwi employers do not have a clear idea of the specific requirements for advertising to satisfy the requirements of INZ. It is not much more difficult to prepare to hire a migrant worker, but the process is slightly more specific than with hiring Kiwi workers, so this needs to be carefully checked. This ties in with inconsistencies with the job description - actual duties - verifiable work experience. Consistency and verifiable documentation is key to the visa application.

The other most common problem is when the employer tries to do the application themself. This is usually illegal, but it also means that the quality of the application is much lower and more likely to fail. An employer who is not a licensed immigration adviser or lawyer is potentially in breach of the law by preparing and / or submitting a work visa application. For more information on this please see our article on what is clerical work or see the IAA website for guidance for employers.

Free service for employers

Our service to employers is completely covered by our professional fees that the applicant pays. Employers can use our services without having to pay anything extra, so if you are an employer, this makes the application much easier for you. We arrange all the necessary documentation, check that it meets the requirements and help to adjust anything that doesn't meet the requirements before the application is lodged. This saves employers time, money and hassle, so it is definitely worth using an immigration adviser for the employer as well as for the worker.

Using an immigration adviser for your application may make the status of your employee's employment with you more stable, more legal and more likely to continue long term with less hassles form a legal perspective. We do not help employers or our clients circumvent the law, instead we find a legal pathway that ensures everything is done properly.

Other work visa types

There are other types of visas which allow you to legally work in NZ as well. They all have different requirements and different future pathways. The type of visa which is right for you will depend on these requirements and your goals for the future.

Skilled Migrant category

This is a residence class visa, but it can also be a way to work in New Zealand if you meet the requirements. There are some advantages over an essential skills visa, firstly that it is easier to meet the labour market test and secondly if successful you will not need to renew the visa to keep working in NZ. The threshold is higher though and this often makes it more difficult to succeed. More information about this visa can be found on our residence visa page

Working holiday visas

Many countries have working holiday visa arrangements with New Zealand. these visas all have different conditions depending on your country of citizenship, but in general you will need to be under a certain age (usually at least under 30) and you will be able to legally work and study for a fixed period of time, sometimes up to 1 year. Thsi visa can be a very good stepping stone to another type of work visa

Partnership work visas

If you have a Kiwi partner who is willing and eligible to support you then this can be a good pathway. There is no requirements for skills or work experience, but the requirements to prove your relationship is genuine and long term can be difficult for some people. Any partnership visa brings the challenge of showing that you meet the requirements, but a partnership work visa's supporting documentation threshold is usually a little lower than a partnership residence visa at least.