Skilled Migration 
New Zealand

NZ welcomes skilled workers and migrants that contribute to New Zealand’s economy. There are a number of ways skilled migrants can enter and be permitted to work in New Zealand. This usually requires a type of work visa. Australia is the only country whose citizens don’t require a work visa to work in NZ.


Work Permit Visa Types

New Zealand offers many types of work visas. Based on your individual circumstances, you may be eligible for one or more types. Each type of work visa allows for different provisions, including length of stay, ability to work, age limitations, etc.

Essential Skills Work Visa New Zealand

This has now been replaced by the Accredited Employer Work Visa.

An Essential Skills Work Visa could be granted if you had the necessary qualifications and experience in a particular field, and have obtained a full time (at least 30 hours per week) job in NZ. This was usually under the condition that your employer has previously made efforts to find local workers to fill the same position prior to your employment through a labour market test.

However, if your occupation was found on a shortage list (national or regional), your qualifications and experience make you a suitable candidate, then your employer wouldn’t have needed to provide evidence for attempting to hire local NZ skilled workers for the position.

There were multiple skills in demand lists, including:

Accredited Employer Work Visa (EAWV)

Obtaining an AEWV is for most a three step process:

  1. The New Zealand employer has to apply to become ‘accredited’ with the Immigration Department. This is supposed to take around two weeks.

  2. The New Zealand employer then submits a ‘job check’ which is essentially recent evidence they have advertised the role and could not find a suitably qualified New Zealander to fill it. This is supposed to also take around two weeks.

  3. The successful candidate files their work visa.

These three steps must be done sequentially.

How Long Can I Stay on an Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV)/ Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) in New Zealand?

The ESWV/AEWV allows you to stay in NZ for up to 3 years depending on salary.

If your salary falls below the national median then you are entitled to stay up to 24 months.

This visa also allows you to support visa applications for your partner and dependent children, as long as you meet the income requirements.

Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa

Is broken into several ‘sub categories’ but all allow skilled migrants to stay in New Zealand indefinitely. Migrants in this category can live, work and study in NZ without limitation.

To access this visa category, migrants must be below the age of 56 and must:

  1. Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) which describes their qualifications, experience and proposed future employment in NZ. Only successful applicants will be invited to apply for this visa category. This is a points based system pitting migrant against migrant; OR

  2. Have a job in NZ on the ‘Green List’ of occupations which provides a non points based pathway to a Resident Visa; OR

  3. A sub list of the ‘Green List’ occupations provide a non points based two year pathway to a Resident Visa; OR

  4. Have a permanent job in NZ that pays (by salary, not package) twice the median salary. This creates a non-points based pathway to residence.

Working Holiday Visa

NZ has a Working Holiday Visas with many countries which is generally available to young people between the ages of 18 and 30. Working Holiday Visa holders can stay in New Zealand for between 12 month and 24 months under normal circumstances.

To apply for the Working Holiday Visa you need to have enough money for a return ticket, and confirm that the primary objective of your stay is to holiday. Work and/or study should be secondary intentions.

Entrepreneur Resident Visa

The Entrepreneur Resident Visa allows self-employed individuals to stay in NZ. This visa allows you to work, live and study in NZ without limitations.

SSE Visa

The SSE Work Visa (Supplementary Seasonal Employment Work Visa) is a visa that allows students and visitors already in NZ to apply for seasonal work. Seasonal work opportunities are typically in the horticulture or viticulture industries.

The SSE Visa can allow you to extend your stay in NZ by 6 months.

Temporary Graduate Visa / Post Study Work Visa

The Post Study Work Visa, sometimes also referred to as the Temporary Graduate Visa, allows you to stay and work in NZ after completing your qualifications. To qualify, it’s imperative that you completed your qualifications in New Zealand.

This visa type allows you to stay and work for any employer in NZ for 1-3 years, and do almost any type of work depending on the qualification that you came to New zealand to study.

Partnership Work Visa / Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa

This Visa allows an individual to join their NZ partner, who is already working in NZ. The Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa may allow you to work in NZ as well as study up to 3 months.


Work Visa
Application Process

Each work visa has a different application process. As part of the application you may be required to provide evidence demonstrating qualifications, experience and that you have been successful in a job application. You may also need to provide a health certificate and police certificate.

How much does a New Zealand working visa cost?

Depending on the work visa type, they generally cost a few hundred dollars.

How long does it take to get a work visa for New Zealand?

It typically takes between 2 months to get approval for a New Zealand Work Visa if you are using a competent adviser.

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