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Immigration & Work Permits

Work Permits

Foreign workers are required to have the proper visas and work permits in New Zealand, as established by immigration laws. Visitors from many countries do not require a visa for visits to New Zealand of less than three months. Generally, visitors are not allowed to work, however visas or work permits are available under various categories for people wishing to work in New Zealand either on a temporary or permanent basis.

Work permits must be secured for employees, and sponsored by a locally licensed and incorporated entity, which can be a problem for companies just entering the New Zealand market. If you have yet to complete the incorporation process you can use an outsourced management company or GEO Employer of Record to sponsor the employee for the necessary permits.

Your Options

Use the Shield GEO solution

Shield GEO applies for an Essential Skills Work Visa. The application can be completed online along with supporting documents. An offer of employment must be submitted together with the Employer Supplementary Form.

The employee must work in an occupation currently on either the Essential Skills List or Demand Lists.

Evidence that the NZ health requirements must also be lodged: if working in NZ for less than a year a Chest X-ray Certificate is required, for more than a year a General Medical Certificate is also required.

Additionally if the role is for 2+ years a police certificate from your country of residence is also required.

The application must be lodged and approved before you can enter New Zealand and commence working.

Documentation required : Completed Application Form, Employer Supplementary Form, Medical Certificates and Police Certificate as above, passport copy, passport photos, employment contract, professional references, copies of degree/diploma/professional certifications.

Use your own company

If the job role is on Long term skill shortage list the employer can get a work visa through Talent Work Category. A work visa will be granted for the length of the employment contract, up to a maximum three years.

If the job role the employer is seeking to fill is not on the skill shortage list or is not considered skilled according to the immigration department, the employer needs to demonstrate that they are not able to find suitably qualified New Zealand workers or New Zealand workers who could be trained to perform the respective job duties. Immigration New Zealand will carry out a labour test to determine the necessity of the candidate. To qualify for the labour market test before the employer has found a candidate, an Approval in Principle is required. This provides a pre-approval to hire individuals for a specified period of time (6-12 months).

Citizens and residents of Australia do not need a work visa to legally work in New Zealand. Proofs of documentation include Australian passport, Australian Permanent Resident visa or Australian Resident Return visa.

If an employer needs to hire a candidate for a specific purpose or event such as an intra-corporate secondment or senior level transfer, the candidates can be sponsored through a Specific purpose or Event category work visa.

Accredited employer

New Zealand employers can channel prospective employees through the Talent work visa category.

Employee eligibility:

  • Aged 55 years or under
  • Will be paid a salary of atleast NZ$55, 000
  • Have a job offer that covers atleast 30 hours of employment per week for 2 years or more
  • Adhere to New Zealand immigration health and character requirements

Employer eligibility:

An employer needs to submit an application form along with the fee and supporting information to the Business Immigration branch at the New Zealand Immigration office. Accredited employer status enables employers to recruit skilled workers with salary levels of more than NZ$55,000 per annum. Accreditation is valid for a 12 month period and can be renewed.

To qualify as an accredited employer a business must prove

– Business records and evidence of financial position for a period of atleast 2 years

– Annual reports

– Business plans

– Accounts certified by an accountant

– GST returns (turnover, revenue, expenses)

– Profit & loss statements

– Financial position statements

– Companies office registration details inclusive of details of directors, shareholders

– Company profile

– Organizational chart

– Documented human resource policy

  • Human resource policies and procedures
  • Employee policy handbook
  • Work place practices
  • Employment agreement
  • Training policies and guidelines
  • Training schedules
  • Health and safety manual
  • Best practices manual

– Evidence of training the business provides to New Zealand employees

  • Records of in-house training and development programmes
  • Training calendar
  • Records indicating involvement with a New Zealand Training Organization (ITO) or funding of employees’ attendance at training sessions
  • Records of apprentice/graduate programmes
  • Records of courses provided by external training providers
  • Training invoices
  • Training certificates relevant to the employer

– Other factors considered by Immigration New Zealand in evaluating the application

  • How long the organization has been operational
  • Relationship with the relevant Industry Training Organization (ITO)
  • Membership with Equal Opportunities (EEO) Employers’ group
  • Whether the employer is an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certified
  • How long the employer intends to maintain accreditation

Cost for Employer Accreditation under Talent Work Instructions

First year accreditation NZ$1,700

Second and subsequent accreditation NZ$480

Steps to sponsor employees as an accredited Employer under Talent (Long Term Skill Shortage List)

  • Employer should check if the job vacancy is on the Long Term Skills Shortage List
  • Employer ensures job meets the appropriate employment criteria

Aged 55 years or under

Will be paid a salary of atleast NZ$55, 000

Have a job offer that covers atleast 30 hours of employment per week for 2 years or more

Adhere to New Zealand immigration health and character requirements

  • Employee fills out a Work visa application form (INZ1015)
  • Employer provides a job offer adhering to the employment criteria
  • Employer fills in designated sections of the Employer Supplementary form (INZ1113) and provides it to the employee to send
  • Employee submits the application to the nearest Immigration New Zealand branch

Supporting material that should be provided by employee:

  • Two passport sized colour photographs taken within the past 6 months (45 mm X 35 mm)
  • Passport or travel document (must be valid for atleast 3 months after the date the employee intends to leave New Zealand)
  • Medical and chest X-ray certificates (INZ1007-General medical Certificate, INZ1096-Chest X-ray certificate)
  • Police certificates from employee’s country of citizenship and any country that the employee has lived in five years or more since the age of 17
  • A job offer letter should include: Employer’s name,  employee’s name and address, designation, address of place of employment, job duties and responsibilities, pay and conditions of employment, qualifications and experience requirements, confirmation of whether or not registration in New Zealand is required, duration of the job, and how long the job would be available.

Types of visas in New Zealand

Category Description of Visa
Temporary Work Visas Can be obtained by those who;
• have a confirmed job offer from a New Zealand employer
• are visiting New Zealand for an event or for a specified purpose
• intend to accumulate work experience
• want to join a business partner in New Zealand and continue professional/business duties
Essential Skills Work Visa Requirements include:
• Job offer is listed under the Long Term Skills Shortage List (LTSSL), the Immediate Skills Shortage List (ISSL), or Canterbury Skills Shortage List
• A temporary work visa and a Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) invitation or an in-progress assessment for a SMC application

Essential work visas are issued for Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) ranging from level 1 (high skilled) to 5 (low skilled).

Visas for ANZSCO skill level 1-3 are issued for a maximum duration of three years. However, it can be issued for a five year duration given that:
• The job offer is for an occupation which falls within skill level 1 in ANZSCO
• Annual salary of atleast NZ$55,000 per annum

*ANZSCO skill level 1-3 visas can be extended upto a maximum duration of 3 years.

Visas for ANZSCO skill level 4 and 5 are granted for a maximum duration of 1 year. Between July 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016 maximum duration for Essential skills ANZSCO skill level 4 and 5 has been extended from one to three years for work performed in Canterbury.

ANZSCO level 1 visa: 5 year work visa maybe provided given that the job duration is for 5 years and the annual salary is at least NZ$55,000. This work visa can be renewed for a shorter duration of up to a maximum of 3 years.
Entrepreneur Work Visa A 3 year work visa issued for entrepreneurs to move into New Zealand and establish or purchase a business. Issued as a 3 year work visa in two stages.

Start-up stage: A 12 month work visa is issued to buy or establish a business in New Zealand.

Balance stage: Issued for the remaining 24 months of the 3 years for which the entrepreneur work visa

Eligibility requirements:
• A minimum capital investment NZ$100,000
• A minimum of 120 points on a scale based on which the success of the proposed business
• A specific business plan for the proposed business
• Not involved in business fraud or financial misconduct

Cost: NZ$2,700-3,200
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