International Jobs
Register       Sign in

New Zealand Visa and Immigration


How many kinds of employment visas are there?

There are different types of employment visas otherwise known as work visas. The most commonly used is a work visa under the Essential Skills Instructions. This instruction allows New Zealand employers to recruit overseas workers if they can establish that they cannot fill the vacancies locally. Citizens of certain countries aged between 18 and 30 may be eligible for a working holiday work visa without a job offer. Partners of New Zealand citizens/residents can apply for partnership work visas without a job offer and can work for any employer.

How can I get a work visa in New Zealand?

To obtain a work visa, in most cases, you will need a job offer from a New Zealand employer. Citizens of certain countries aged between 18 and 30 can get working holiday visas without a job offer. Similarly partners of New Zealand citizens/residents can apply for a partnership work visa. Those who have studied in New Zealand are also eligible for one year work visa after completion of the studies.

Can I apply for a work visa on my own?

You can apply for a work visa on your own. However, you can increase your chances of obtaining one, if you were to hire an immigration lawyer or an adviser.

Who can I hire to assist me in processing my papers?

You can hire an immigration lawyer or adviser to assist you with your application.

What are the documents I need to submit?

The documents you need to submit vary according to the type of application. In the case of a work visa application under the essential skills category, you will need to provide evidence that your employer tried unsuccessfully to recruit locally. In addition to this, you need to provide evidence of your qualifications, work experience, a copy of your job offer/employment, your passport etc. This list is not exhaustive and you should consult an immigration lawyer or adviser.

How long do I have to wait for my papers to be processed?

The time taken to process an application depends on the category you apply for and which branch you lodge the application. A work visa application could take between two weeks to two months whereas a residence visa application could take between six months to two years.

Where can I check on the status of my application?

If you register online with Immigration New Zealand, you can check the progress of the application online. Alternatively, you can call Immigration or contact the case officer through email.

What will my proof of work visa be?

When a work visa is granted, a visa label is affixed on the passport which  is the proof of grant of visa. In the case of working holiday visas applied online, a visa is granted electronically.  Immigration is in the process of  rolling out electronic visas and in the near future will do away with the practice of placing visa labels in the passports. When fully implemented, visa applications can be lodged online.

What are the government fees I have to pay for while I’m on my work visa?

You need to pay a fee of NZ$270 if the application is lodged in New Zealand. If the application is made outside New Zealand, the amount varies depending on the branch you file the application.

How long is the validity of the work visa before it expires?

A work visa could be valid for a period of three months to five years.

If my passport expires before my work visa expires, what should I do?

Normally Immigration will only grant a work visa till the validity period of your passport. In cases where Immigration grants a work visa beyond the validity period of your passport, then you can apply to Immigration New Zealand for affixing the work visa label in your new passport.

When my work visa expires, how can I re-enter New Zealand and accept a new job?

You can apply for a further visa if you are in New Zealand. If you are outside New Zealand you can file a work visa from outside New Zealand and re-enter New Zealand after grant of a visa.

Is there a grace period to renew a work visa?

There is no grace period. To apply for a further work visa, you need to apply while you are still holding a visa. To renew a work visa, you are advised to apply at least 60 days prior to the expiry of your current visa

Can I come to New Zealand on a tourist visa to search and apply for jobs?

Strictly speaking, the purpose of a tourist visa, as the name implies, is to enable the holder to visit New Zealand as a tourist. However, you can search and apply for jobs while holding a tourist visa.

What happens when an employer asks me to work immediately without a work visa?

You cannot start working for an employer without a valid work visa.

How do I make sure I don’t get banned from re-entry?

To avoid a ban from re-entry you need to ensure that you do not violate the visa conditions. You can be banned from re-entry if you a deported from New Zealand due to violating your visa conditions or being charged/sentenced for criminal offences.

How can I transfer my work visa from one employer to the next?

You can apply for a variation of conditions to work for a different employer.

Aside from obtaining a work visa, how else can I reside in New Zealand?

You can apply for residence if you can demonstrate that you job is a skilled one. A resident visa entitles you to live in New Zealand indefinitely.

How can my partner/spouse or children who work and live in New Zealand sponsor my residency?

If your partner wants to sponsor you for residency, he or she should be New Zealand resident or citizen. You need to prove that your relationship is genuine, stable and intended for a long term. For children to sponsor their parents, there are several requirements to be met including a three-year wait period from the date they obtained their residence; minimum income requirement etc; must be eligible to sponsor their parents etc,.

How soon can I work after my family sponsors my residency?

A residence visa allows you to work for any employer or be self-employed. You can start working immediately after getting your visa.

How can I apply for permanent residency and acquire citizenship when I get my work visa?

You can apply for residence under the skilled migrant instructions if you can demonstrate that your job or the job offer is a skilled one. To obtain New Zealand citizenship, you need to wait for five years from the date of becoming a New Zealand resident.

Does New Zealand have single and multiple entry visas? How do I get a multiple entry visa?

New Zealand has both single and multiple entry visas. In the case of work visas, normally a multiple entry visa is granted.

Will an expat’s child born in New Zealand acquire citizenship?

A child born to an expat in New Zealand will not get New Zealand citizenship. To obtain citizenship for a child, one of the parents must be a New Zealand citizen or resident.

I am a citizen of New Zealand currently living overseas with a foreign national. What are the requirements for my partner to be able to reside with me in New Zealand?

You can sponsor your partner for residence under the partnership instructions provided you can establish that you are living together in a genuine and stable relationship. If you and your partner want to move to New Zealand before the residence application is finalised, a work visa or a visitor visa under the partnership instructions can also be lodged.

Where can I find more information on residency and citizenship?

You can find detailed information from the Immigration website:

What should I do to have a successful relocation?

My advice is to plan ahead, do your research, develop a network and have realistic expectations.


USA Visa
New Zealand VisaLloyd Vivera, a barrister & solicitor of New Zealand and Victoria, Australia, has been assisting people from all over the world to move to New Zealand since 2005. He also assists clients to move to Australia. Personalised service at a reasonable cost is his motto. He is based in Auckland, New Zealand.

Websites  |  | nor the author guarantee the accuracy of the information on this page. It is recommend that particularly prior to your travels you check with the relevant government authority. Please contact us with any updates you may have. Last updated 23 September 2015.

Search and browse for jobs worldwide. Find work or recruit the ideal candidate TODAY!