New Zealand work visas: These are your 6 options

/ / Working in New Zealand

new zealand work visas

There are six New Zealand work visas that allow migrants to work in the country. Without one of these visas to your name, you won’t be able to legally take up a job.

Each of the six visas has its own set of requirements and offers either immediate residency, a pathway to residency or permission to work in New Zealand for a specific purpose or event.

To find out which visa you qualify for, you’d have to do an immigration assessment with a licensed agent. Just before we tell you how to do that, let’s have a look at the different New Zealand work visas.

Immediate residency

The Skilled Migrant visa and the partner visa offer immediate residency, i.e. you’re granted permanent resident status if you’re visa application is successful.

1. Skilled Migrant visa

The Skilled Migrant visa allows you to work in New Zealand, but only if you can meet these criteria:

  • You’re 55 or younger
  • Your occupation is on a skills shortage list
  • Your skills, experience and qualifications satisfy INZ’s requirements for your occupation
  • You have a job offer from a New Zealand employer
  • You meet the minimum English language requirements

You’ll also have to score at least 160 points in your assessment to receive an Invitation to Apply from Immigration New Zealand. This invitation is your chance to make a formal skilled migrant application.

It’s important to note that getting an Invitation to Apply does not automatically mean that your application for a Skilled Migrant will be successful. Immigration New Zealand could still turn down your visa application.

Read more about the Skilled Migrant visa here.

2. Partner visa

The Partner visa is not a work visa but it extends many rights to visa holders and the ability to work in New Zealand is one of those rights.

To apply for a Partner visa, you and your New Zealand partner must be married or in a civil union or a de facto relationship.

Further to this:

  • Your partner must be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.
  • You and your partner must be able to prove that the relationship is stable and committed.

If Immigration New Zealand finds that your relationship is genuine and that you meet all the other requirements, you’ll be eligible for a partner visa.

You’ll also be able to include dependent children up to the age of 24 in your application.

Read more about the Partner visa here.

Pathway to residency

As the title suggests, the visas that fall under this category serves as a pathway to residency.

In other words, you’re recognised as a temporary resident when you hold any of these visas. However, you could be able apply to for permanent residency later on if you meet the requirements.

3. Essential Skills Work visa

The Essential Skills Work visa enables you to work in New Zealand but only if the below is true:

  • Your occupation is on the Essential Skills list
  • You have the necessary skills and experience to perform the job’s functions
  • You have a full-time job offer from a New Zealand employer
  • Your prospective employer can prove to INZ that the company could not find a suitable New Zealander to fill the position you’re being offered
  • Your remuneration is according to the ANZSCO level of your occupation

Just like with the Skilled Migrant visa, you must also complete a points-based assessment.

In order to submit an Expression of Interest and receive an Invitation to Apply from INZ, you’ll have to score at least 100 points.

Read more about the Essential Skills Work visa here.

4. Partner of a New Zealand Work Visa Holder

You’d obviously want to go with your partner to New Zealand if he or she decides to immigrate. You can do this by applying for the partner visa that’s specifically for partners of work visa holders.

A partner visa not only allows you to join your partner in New Zealand, it also allows you to work while you live in the country.

To meet the requirement of this visa, your partnership must be one of the following:

  • Marriage
  • Civil union
  • De facto relationship

Immigration New Zealand would also want to see that your partnership is genuine. To judge this, INZ will consider all of the below:

  • How long you’ve been together and how long you’ve been living together as a couple
  • Whether you support each other financially and how you share financial responsibilities
  • Property that you may own or share together
  • If you have any children together
  • Whether other people recognise your relationship or not

Read more about the Partner of a New Zealand Work Visa Holder Visa here.

5. Entrepreneur visa

The Entrepreneur visa is the one for you if you want to work in your own business in New Zealand. This could mean either of the following situations:

  • Starting a business; or
  • Buying into an existing business.

The visa is split into two stages:

  1. Start-Up: An initial 1 year period during which you have to set up or buy into a New Zealand business.
  2. Balance: A further 2 year period is granted if you can prove you have established your business.

To apply for an Entrepreneur visa, you’d need the following:

  • NZ$100,000 minimum investment capital, unless your business is in the IT or science sectors. INZ allows for waiver applications of the investment amount for these industries.
  • Comprehensive business plan
  • Good business character – Immigration New Zealand will review any cases of business failure, fraud and bankruptcy
  • You score at least 120 points in your assessment
  • You meet the English language requirements

Read more about the Entrepreneur work visa here.

Permission to work in New Zealand for a set period of time

Sometimes your visa need is not for immigration, but for a short work or business trip instead. In this case, you’d have to apply for a visa that allows for the specific purpose of your visit to New Zealand.

6. Specific Purpose Work visa

When you need to go to New Zealand for a specific purpose or event, you’ll apply for a Specific Purpose Work visa.

Such purposes or events could be, for example, a short-term assignment for your company, working on a film set, installing or servicing specialized equipment, judging a show or exhibition or going to New Zealand to referee sports matches.

In short, any work that would attract any form of a benefit – whether that’s a salary, housing, food or any other form of benefit or remuneration.

You would need to prove the following when you submit a visa application:

  • You genuinely need the work visa for the time period requested
  • You have enough funds to support yourself for the period of the work visa
  • It is your intention to leave New Zealand at the end of the work visa’s validity

Read more about the Specific Purpose Work visa here.

Now let’s chat about assessments…

As we said right at the start, you can discover your best work visa option for New Zealand with an immigration assessment.

Such an assessment will take into consideration all of the necessary information about your personal profile to determine which New Zealand work visa you can apply for.

There are online assessments available but it is best to get a licensed immigration advisor to this assessment with you.

Online assessments often don’t ask the probing questions necessary to accurately determine your eligibility for any of the New Zealand work visas.

So where do you find licensed advisors? On the website of the New Zealand Immigration Adviser Authority (IAA). You can rest assured that advisors who appear here are licensed and held accountable for the advice dispensed.

Intergate’s licensed advisors

Intergate has not one, but three licensed advisers – Sarah Hewitt, Katrin Maja O’Flynn and Maike Versfeld. You can find all of them on the IAA website.

Sarah Hewitt is our New Zealand expert and you can book a consultation call with her on our website.

Let’s recap…

New Zealand offers 6 work visas that offer you immediate residency, a pathway to residency or permission to work in country for a set period of time, depending on the visa you qualify for.

Each of the New Zealand work visas has its own set of requirements and you’ll only know if you qualify for a visa and which one you qualify for once you’ve done an immigration assessment.

To ensure you get the correct advice, only deal with licensed advisers. It could mean the difference between actually getting to work in New Zealand and spending money on a dream that’s not possible.

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