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Types of Work Visa/Work Permits

Find out about the different types of employment permit available to those coming to New Zealand for work...

Skilled Migrants

The skilled migrant category is for people under the age of 55 who intend to make New Zealand their home and have skills that are needed in the country. The Department of Labour maintains two lists of industries and professions which currently have a shortage of skilled people, called the Essential Skills In Demand Lists:

  1. Immediate Skills Shortage List (ISSL) which includes jobs and skills needed in specific geographic regions.
  2. Long Term Skills Shortage List (LTSSL) which includes professions where there is an ongoing shortage of skilled people throughout the country.

To apply for a skilled migrant visa an individual must meet the set standards of English-language proficiency, health and character. In order to make an application an "Expression of Interest" must first be submitted. In this points are given for an applicant's skills, experience and other factors such as having a job offer in the country. Applicants who accrue at least 140 points are automatically invited to apply for a visa. Those with between 100 and 140 points may be selected based on their skills.

The documents needed will typically include:

  • A medical certificate and chest X-ray
  • A police certificate
  • Proof of English-language ability
  • Evidence of academic qualifications
  • Any relevant documents regarding skills

Once the application and documents have been reviewed some applicants will be interviewed to decide on their suitability. Successful applicants will be offered a residence visa. Holders of a residence visa can live, work and study in New Zealand indefinitely, they can vote and have full access to publicly funded healthcare. Some applicants are deemed to have potential but it is less clear how well they will settle in the country. In this case a work to residence visa is awarded. This is valid for nine months. If skilled employment is found in this time then the holder will have shown an ability to settle and the residence application is approved.

Applications can be made online using the New Zealand Immigration website.

  • To find out more about the skilled migrant category or make an application: Click here
Work to Residence Visa

Getting a Work to Residence visa can be used as a step towards settling permanently in New Zealand and gaining resident status. People who have skills or talents that are needed in the country and individuals who are exceptionally talented in sport, culture or the arts can apply for a Work to Residence visa.

To be eligible for a Work to Residence visa an individual must be in good health, have a good character and have a passport which is valid for at least three months beyond the planned stay in New Zealand. Applicants must also genuinely want to work in the country. There are three ways to apply for a Work to Residence Visa:

  1. The Long Term Skill Shortage List is for individuals who hold a job offer in one of the occupations for which New Zealand has a shortage. For information on applying via this pathway: Click here
  2. Talent (Accredited Employers) is for people with a job offer from an employer who has been given permission to recruit from overseas. For information on applying for a work visa this way: Click here
  3. Talent (Arts, Culture and Sports) is for individuals who are recognised as being talented in one of these fields. To find out about making a visa application this way: Click here

If a visa is awarded the holder must be employed in line with the conditions of the visa, must obey the laws of the country and must leave when the visa expires. Breaking any of these conditions may lead to the holder being forced to the leave the country immediately. After two years a holder of a work to residence visa can apply for residency if they meet all of the criteria.

Silver Fern Visa

Silver Fern visas are not easy to get and are designed to attract highly skilled young people to New Zealand. Only three hundred of these visas are awarded each year. The scheme runs annually and opens each year on 27 April. This visa allows the holder to spend nine months in the country to search for skilled employment.

To be eligible an applicant must be between the ages of 20 and 35 and have enough funds to support themselves during their stay in the country. They are also required to meet qualification and English-language requirements. Successful applicants who gain skilled employment can then apply for a Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa which will allow them to continue to work or a further two years.

  • For more information on the requirements and online application procedure for Silver Fern Visas: Click here
Temporary Work Visas

New Zealand offers a number of temporary visas. They can be used by, among others, people with a job offer from a New Zealand company and by individuals wishing to join a partner already there.

  • For more information on the different types of temporary visa: Click here
Entrepreneurs and Investors

There are a series of visas available to entrepreneurs who have set up a business in New Zealand, and individuals planning to invest in the country. All of these visas give full resident status. There are four categories of visa:

  1. An Entrepreneur visa for people who have set up and run a successful business in the country.
  2. An Entrepreneur Plus visa is for individuals who have invested a minimum of NZ$0.5 million to set up and run a business in New Zealand.
  3. An Investor visa is for people interested in investing at least NZ$1.5 million in the country. For more information: Click here
  4. An Investor Plus visa is for people with at least NZ$10 million to invest in the country. For more information: Click here
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