The employer-related work visa policies will undergo an overhaul in 2022.  The proposed framework was due to be implemented in 2021 but has now been delayed until 4 July 2022.  You will find a more detailed article on our News and Articles page along with earlier articles concerning the changes as they were proposed.

All offshore employment and work visas are currently suspended until 6 February 2022 and until such time the New Zealand government deems it safe to re-open New Zealand's borders.  All onshore employment and work visas are open and available for processing.

Essential Skills Policy

This work visa category is by far the most common category used for people being employed by a New Zealand entity.  The visa can be granted for up to three-years maximum initially.

Applicants with an offer of employment that is paid below median wage (currently NZD27 per hour) will be granted a 24-month work visa.  Previously, there was a stand down period for these visa holders, but this has since been suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the Essential Skills policy, it is a requirement to demonstrate why the position has not been able to be filled locally.  This requirement is waived if the position is listed on one of Immigration New Zealand's Skill Shortage Lists and the visa applicant meets the requirements stipulated by the list.

As a result of the strong rebound of the New Zealand economy after a period of lockdown in 2020 and the ongoing closure of the borders, the government recently announced a streamlined application process for those holding Essential Skills work visas in New Zealand and who require a new visa to remain in that same role.  These are expected to be temporary measures until the borders reopen.

Specific Purpose or Event Policy

This category is for those people who are coming to New Zealand for a project or specific piece of work or event for which the person has demonstrated skills, expertise, or attributes that are likely to benefit individuals and/or New Zealand and where there is no risk of a negative impact on opportunities for New Zealand citizens or residents.  They need not necessarily be paid for their work from a New Zealand entity; these individuals can remain on their home country payroll.

The work visas granted under this policy can be issued for up to three years at a time, although they are usually granted to coincide with the time needed for the person to be in New Zealand.

It is not a requirement for applications under this policy to show why the position or role that the employee is going to be doing in New Zealand cannot be filled locally, regardless of the occupation or length of stay.

Talent (Accredited Employers) Work Policy

This category requires an employment offer from a New Zealand business that has been approved as an Accredited Employer by Immigration New Zealand, which is a status issued (on application) to those businesses deemed to be good and responsible employers from an immigration perspective.

Work visas under this category are granted for 30 months.  Requirements for work visas under this category are:

  • There is an offer of employment from an accredited employer that is for employment for at least 24 months;
  • The offer is for full-time employment (at least 30 hours per week);
  • The base salary for the role is no less than NZD79,560 per annum; and
  • The applicant is aged not older than 55.

Due to the validity of the visa granted under this category, full medicals and police checks are generally required as part of the application.

Once granted, providing the visa holder remains in employment with the employer (or another Accredited Employer) for at least 24 months, the applicant can lodge an application for residence in New Zealand.

New and renewal applications for Accredited Employer status closed on 30 June 2021, and new applications for an associated Talent Work visa has now also closed (effective from )31 October 2021).  Note that this does not include those visa holders who are currently waiting for the outcome of a residence application under the Residence from Work category.  Such visa holders may be granted, on application, a further visa for up to 24 months to allow them to remain lawfully in New Zealand whilst awaiting the outcome of their residence application.

Post-Study Work Policy

To encourage and facilitate overseas students, who have studied at a certain level in New Zealand, to remain and contribute to the country further, the New Zealand government offers a streamlined entry into work visas for certain students.

Once a student has completed their studies for which the student visa was granted, they can apply for a visa for either one, two or three year open work visa.  Open work visas have no restrictions on the type of work that can be undertaken or on the specific employer.

Other Work Policies

There are several other work visa policies in New Zealand. These include but are not limited to:

  • Refugee or protective status claimants;
  • Horticulture and viticulture work policies (for seasonal workers);
  • Student and trainee work policy; and
  • Domestic staff of seconded senior executives.

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