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Work Visa Information

The following information provides a general overview of Work Visa policy. Please note that this information does not replace or constitute immigration advice from a licensed immigration adviser.

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General Information

In most cases, work visas are subject to strict conditions that are listed on the visa itself. Many of these restrictions limit the ability to work in a certain occupation, for a specific employer, and in a particular region of New Zealand. It is necessary to comply with these conditions.


Consult an expert if you wish to make any changes.


Essential Skills Work Visa - ESWV

In order to qualify for approval, the employer must demonstrate that they were unable to find Kiwis for the position and that the migrant worker has the necessary qualifications and experience. This visa will be phased out in July 2022 and replaced with the "Accredited Employer Work Visa".


Currently, the following requirements exist:

  • An offer of employment must be in place for the applicant.

  • A "Labour Market Test" must be passed on a job offer in order to ensure no New Zealander is available to fill it, unless it matches one of the skill shortage lists published by Immigration New Zealand from time to time.

  • Qualifications and skills required for the job must be demonstrated by the applicant, along with good character and good health.

  • Families can join an applicant only if they meet certain income thresholds, which determine whether they are eligible to join.

  • The validity of these visas is subject to certain restrictions.

Accredited Employer Work Visa - AEWV

A number of current work visas will be replaced by the AEWV in July 2022. An applicant for an AEWV must hold a job offer from a New Zealand employer whose accreditation is recognized by the government.

In order to become accredited, employers must submit their own application. This application must be approved before a work visa application may be submitted. In order for the job offer you have received to be considered valid, the employer must apply to Immigration NZ for clearance. The government must be satisfied that there are no suitable New Zealand citizens or residents available to fill the position.


In general, the following criteria should be considered:

  • Hold a firm job offer that has been approved by Immigration NZ

  • Ensure you are qualified and experienced to perform the job you have been offered.

  • Be of good health and character.

  • Visas will typically have an expiration date associated with their rate of pay.


Partnership Visa - New Zealand Partner

  • In the event that the applicant has lived with a New Zealand partner for less than 12 months, a 12-month work or visitor visa may be available.

  • A 24-month work visa may be available to applicants who have lived together with a New Zealand partner for 12 months or longer.

  • Both cases require that the applicant proves they are in a “genuine and stable” relationship with a New Zealander and demonstrate the length of the relationship to Immigration New Zealand's satisfaction, as well as demonstrate their good health and character.


Partnership Visa - Non-NZ Partner

In most cases, migrant workers' partners are equally eager to work once they secure a job in New Zealand. A "Partnership Visa" offers the benefit of not imposing restrictions on the partner's employment, employer, or region of New Zealand. Several changes have been signalled by the government concerning this visa, and it may become more challenging to obtain in the future.

  • A partner of a non-New Zealander who holds a work visa may be eligible for a work visa for the same period as his or her partner.

  • Immigration New Zealand must be satisfied that the applicant is in a "genuine and stable" relationship and that they are in good health and of good character.

  • Certain income thresholds may be necessary before a partnership visa can be granted to a migrant worker.


Visa For Specific Purpose Or Event

Specialist work visas cover a variety of situations, usually when someone is still being paid overseas. From a concert player to installing a high-tech printer or the new CEO of a multinational corporation.

This visa may be granted to individuals with the following skills:​

  • Specialists and executives working for large corporations or on special projects.

  • Those involved in sports, coaching, refereeing, and judging.

  • Specialized machinery installers.

  • The entertainment industry, performing artists, and the film industry.

​To determine if this visa is right for you or your business, seek professional advice.


Work To Residence - WTR

Under normal residence policy, anyone on a work visa may apply for residence.

For the following work visas, there is a special pathway to residence:

  • Talent Visa (Arts, Culture and Sport).

  • Religious Worker Visa.

  • Accredited Employer Work Visa (limited availability - take advice).


Those who hold the above work visas will be eligible to apply for residence after two or three years of employment, provided that they are in good health, have a good character, and meet other specific requirements. 

All applicants must be in good health and of good character. In some cases, a medical waiver or a character waiver can be granted.

There are some cases where unique procedures need to be followed due to the specialist nature of the activities involved.

Because there are multiple complexities involved, employers and applicants should consult a professional.


Talent Visas (Arts, Culture and Sport)

People with an international reputation in the arts, sports, or culture can apply for residence here. The applicant must have the support of a recognized New Zealand national body and a personal sponsor in order to be eligible to apply for this visa.

Applicants must demonstrate a track record of international success in order to qualify for this visa.

  • Talent in Arts, Culture, or Sport may qualify applicants for a Work visa if supported by a "nationally reputed" organization.

  • It is essential that the Applicant be in good health and of good character.


Post-Study Work Visa

As soon as the hard work is done, there is a limited window of opportunity to gain some local experience before returning home. Work visas are valid for a certain period of time-based on the type of New Zealand qualification completed.

  • Upon completion of certain approved courses, some applicants may be eligible for a work visa valid between 12 and 36 months (depending on the type of qualification completed).

  • Good character and good health are required of applicants.

It is important to note that eligibility may depend on how the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has assessed a particular course.


There is no guarantee that assessments will remain the same after they have been made, and some agents selling courses or students providing advice to each other can cause confusion, resulting in serious problems and disappointments for students. You should seek advice from a professional before making any decisions.

Working Holiday Visa - WHV


This program is designed to attract young people to New Zealand who are searching for an action-packed adventure with a chance to work at the same time.


Experiencing the country while earning money to support your travel is a great way to meet new people and discover the country.

  • Currently, New Zealand has reciprocal arrangements with more than 40 countries, offering opportunities for young travellers.

  • Typically, the age limit is 18 - 30.

  • Quotas often limit places - first come, first served.

  • A permanent employment relationship cannot be established.

  • Good health and character are necessary for applicants.


Religious Worker

Provides assistance to community religious groups by recruiting experienced religious workers.

  • It is possible for religious organizations to apply for Work Visas for religious workers in some circumstances.

  • Sponsorship is required.

  • The applicant must be in good health and of good character.

  • A pathway to a permanent residence.


Student And Trainee Visa

This program gives overseas students an opportunity to complete practical training related to their course or to gain work experience in New Zealand. This is a great opportunity to gain some overseas experience.

  • Students who need work training to achieve their academic goals can be issued work visas. 

Specialist Work Visa Categories

Generally, these visas support local primary industries and, in a few instances, the hospitality industry. Quotas may be applied along with qualifications and/or experience requirements.

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