New Zealand - Immigration
New Zealand is appealing for foreign nationals to live and work; New Zealand ranks among the countries having the lowest unemployment rate and its economy is growing rapidly but the job market remains very competitive. Getting a job in New Zealand may be a challenge if you have not arranged work before arriving. The more experience and qualifications you have to offer, the better are your chances for securing a position. However, even well-qualified migrants may take six or more months to find suitable employment and will often need to move out of their specialist field. New Zealand has a low crime rate and also have low pollution index.
New Zealand offers a range of work visas. All are temporary, though some can lead to residence.
Essential Skills work visas
These visas are meant for temporary stays. The duration and conditions of the visa depends on the term of your job offer, your salary and labour market conditions.
Is your job on a skill shortage list?
The Essential Skills in Demand Lists are Immigration New Zealand's occupational skill shortage lists.
If you have a job offer in an occupation on one of the lists and your qualifications and experience match, you can apply for an Essential Skills work visa.
Your employer won't need to provide evidence of attempting to recruit New Zealanders because Immigration New Zealand (INZ) reviews the lists regularly and has concluded that employers are unable to find enough people with these skills, qualifications, and experience in New Zealand.
What if the job is not on a skill shortage list?
Employers who have advertised the job in New Zealand and made genuine but unsuccessful efforts to find a suitable New Zealand citizen or resident for the position can look to recruit migrant workers. In this situation, you can apply for an Essential Skills work visa, and your employer will need to provide supporting information demonstrate their efforts to recruit New Zealanders first.
Will an Essential Skills work visa help if I want to apply for a resident visa?
Essential Skills work visas are intended to fill temporary skill gaps, so they do not lead directly to a residence application.
However, if you have an Essential Skills work visa based on a skilled job, you may gain enough points to qualify for residence visa under the Skilled Migrant Category.
Work to Residence visas
There are two main types of Work to Residence visa which enable you to work in New Zealand and then, after working in the job for at least 24 months, apply for a resident visa.
Work to Residence: Long Term Skill Shortage
If you have a permanent or long-term job offer in an occupation on the Long Term Skill Shortage List and your qualifications and experience match, you could apply for a Work to Residence Visa. You'll need to meet the age, health and character requirements.
Work to Residence: Accredited Employer
If you have a long-term or permanent job offer from an Immigration New Zealand accredited employer you could apply for a work to residence visa. You'll need to meet the age, health and character requirements, and your job offer will need to meet certain requirements
Bringing your partner & children
There is a range of visa options so your family can join you in New Zealand. Explore their options here.
Other visa options
There are a number of New Zealand visas not mentioned on this page. You can view information on this site about other types of visas or alternatively, visit the Immigration New Zealand website for a definitive list of all visas.
Skilled Migrant Category
If you have skills, qualifications or experience that New Zealand needs you may be able to apply for a resident visa under the Skilled Migrant Category.
The Skilled Migrant Category is a points system based on factors such as age, work experience, your qualifications, and an offer of skilled employment. You must also be aged 55 or under, and meet English language, health, and character requirements.
How it works
- Self assessment
- Check you meet the requirements and calculate your points
- Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI)
- Note the fees and offices information
- Submit an EOI online
- Receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA)
- If you have 160 points or more you'll be selected from the EOI pool and may be sent an ITA
- Submit a resident application
- Note the fees and offices information
- Submit your resident application on the form we provide you with
- Receive your visa
- If successful, you'll be issued a resident visa
- Skilled Migrant Category visa criteria | Immigration New Zealand
Qualifications not recognized
If you're claiming points for your qualifications they need to either be on the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment or have been assessed by NZQA
Work experience not comparable
If you're claiming points for work experience it must be in the same field as your qualification and job/job offer. If you don't have a job or job offer then this experience also needs to be in a comparable labour market, in an occupation on the Long Term Skill Shortage List or for a multinational company.
Bonus point requirements not met
To claim work experience bonus points you need to meet the strict requirements outlined on the Long Term Skill Shortage List.
Residence from Work Category
Once you've been in New Zealand for two years on a Work to Residence visa you may be eligible for residence status under the Residence from Work Category. This category is a great way to 'upgrade' from a temporary work visa to a residence visa. As a resident you'll be able to stay in New Zealand indefinitely and access most publicly funded services. To be eligible you'll need to:
- Have been in New Zealand on a Work to Residence visa for two years
- Meet health and character requirements
From an Accredited Employer work visa
If you were granted a temporary work visa to allow you to work for an accredited employer in New Zealand, you can apply for a residence class visa under Residence from Work (Accredited Employers) Category. These visas are known as Talent (Accredited Employer) visas. To be eligible you'll need to:
- Have held a Talent (Accredited Employer) Work visa for at least 24 months
- Have been employed full time for that period by an accredited employer
- Be currently employed and have a base salary of at least NZ$55,000 per year
- Hold full or provisional registration to practice in your occupation in New Zealand (if applicable)
From a Long Term Skill Shortage List work visa
If you were granted a temporary work visa to allow you to work for an employer in New Zealand in an occupation on the Long Term Skill Shortage List, you can apply for residence under Long Term Skill Shortage List Category. To be eligible you'll need to:
- Have held a Long Term Skill Shortage List Work visa for at least 24 months
- Have been employed full time for that period in an occupation on the Long Term Skill Shortage List.
- Be currently employed and have a base salary of at least NZ$45,000 per year
- Be aged 55 years or younger