1. What is a New Zealand Work Visa?

New Zealand Immigration system allows people from all over the world, without any bias to apply for a work visa. A New Zealand work visa allows you to live and work in New Zealand. Like all other visa policies, work visas are also granted under specific Immigration New Zealand policies. If you are looking for obtaining a New Zealand work visa then you need to apply under the policy which best meets your personal circumstances.

2. Am I eligible for a work visa?

When applying for a New Zealand work visa, this is the first question which you may ask yourself? There are several policies under which you can apply for a work visa. Each policy has different requirements and you may be eligible to apply for a work visa in one or more of these policies. For the convenience of understanding and to make it simple to understand, all work visa policies can be categorized under following broad categories:

  • Work visas based on employment
  • Work visas based on family relationships
  • Work visas based on business/investments

Sometimes, your circumstances may mean that your purpose to be in New Zealand has multiple reasons. For example you may want to work in New Zealand in your dream job with a company you love while you accompany your spouse. In this case, you would need to seek legal advice to determine which policy would suit you best and would help you achieve your overall and long-term immigration goals. You would need to find out if you have higher chances of success in one policy over the other or in fact if you meet policy requirements for any of the policies for a work visa.

3. Application preparation and required documents

Once you have determined the best policy for your work visa application, you would need to collect the required documents for your work visa application.

Based on the policy type, you would collect various documents, for example, if you are applying for a work visa under Essential Skills work visa policy, you would collect documents relevant to this particular policy. In Essential skills work visa policy, you are required to provide documents from your employer who has offered you the role and also your own documents. It is a good idea to seek legal advice to ensure that your employer has followed the recommended process for employers before offering the job to you, the migrant worker seeking a work visa.

Similarly, if you are applying for a work visa under partnership category, it is advisable that you seek legal advice to ensure that you are able to prove to INZ that you have sufficient documents and evidence to prove that you are in a genuines, sustainable and ongoing relationship.

If you are applying for a work visa based on investment or a business, then we also recommend that you seek appropriate professional advice to ensure that the money you are planning to spend is well worth the proposed business/investment. Not just for the work visa purpose but for the overall return on investment and the chances of a business success. It is a good idea to ensure that you are not buying  a dream based on insufficient information.

It is crucial to meet the mandatory lodgement requirements otherwise your application may be delayed or not even lodged. For any experience immigration adviser or lawyer, it would be a matter of just a few hours to go through your application, all supporting documents and make the assessment if you meet the policy requirements or not.

4. Application submission

You can submit most work visa applications online. If you have decided to do your own application, you can submit your own application from following link : online application on INZ website

If your type of work visa application is not possible through the online portal, you would be required to fill in a paper based application and submit it to your nearest INZ or VAC centre. You can find more information on fees, office locations and decision timings here: Fees, Locations, Decision timings on INZ website.

5. Defence of the application

Voila! you have now submitted your application for a work visa of New Zealand. You just need to wait for an outcome on your application. Often the visa officer would ask you for more information and sometimes, you may receive a letter from Immigration New Zealand with a heading of Potentially Prejudiced Information. This is a letter which the visa officer issues before they decline a visa application. When someone receives this sort of letter, it usually means that Immigration New Zealand is telling you that because of the reasons mentioned in this letter, you do not meet the policy requirements and unless you submit new information or a response which can prove that the concerns are not valid or mitigated, it is likely that visa application is going to be declined.

We wish that this scenario never occurs for you. And for all our clients, we try to be proactive about all such scenarios and we advise our clients in writing of any such issues for which we anticipate that INZ may raise concerns. This gives you a chance to re-consider your situation and we often stop you from applying for a visa when we can clearly see the risks. We would only recommend you to apply for a work visa under a specific policy, if :

  • either we believe that based on the information provided to us, you are likely to meet the policy requirements
  • or,
  • we have advised you of the risks involved and the potential concerns which INZ is likely to raise but you still insist to apply for a visa anyways. (Usually in this scenario, we will try to talk you out of it and we will provide you with alternative pathways planning advice.)

6. Grant of a visa

This is the best part of this journey. Once your visa is granted, you are allowed to work in New Zealand within the visa conditions specified on your visa sticker. It is common in many policies that the name of the employer would be specified on the visa along with the location and the occupation. At the same time, there are several work visas which allows you to work in any role for any employer in any location within New Zealand. It is always a good idea to read your visa conditions and ensure that you meet your New Zealand work visa conditions at all times.

Frequently asked questions

I am overseas and do not have a job offer in NZ, have no family in NZ, can I get a NZ work visa?
If you are asking this question, then chances are that you don’t qualify for a work visa for New Zealand. You need a job offer from a New Zealand employer in most cases if you are wanting to apply for a work visa based on employment. There are some exceptions unless you have applied for a residence visa and have been approved on the condition that you find a job in New Zealand and have been granted 9 months open work visa. Apart from that there is Silver Fern work visa policy, which allows people to get an open work visa without a job offer. If they are able to find a job in New Zealand, they can apply for a further work visa. Apart from these limited options, all other policies require you to find a job in New Zealand first. There are also working holiday visas for some nationalities but they are not classified under a work visa.

If I get a work visa, can my family join me?
Yes in many cases, if you are granted a work visa, then your family may also apply for their own visas based on their relationship with you. There are certain requirements which are dependent on your job title and salary and it would be advisable that you seek legal advice to ensure that you would be an eligible sponsor to bring your family into New Zealand.