New Zealand has a variety of work visa types, each relating to different work and employer situations. A quick reference guide is outlined below for the main work visa types.
Essential Skills work visa – this is the most common type of work visa granted for employment in New Zealand. It can be granted for either 1, 3 or 5 years depending on the occupation and the hourly remuneration on offer. This work visa requires the employer to test the local labour market, usually for a two week period. Where the principal applicant is eligible for a 3 or 5 year work visa, partners (married/de facto/same sex) are eligible to apply for an unrestricted work visa, and dependent children can obtain student visas to permit them to attend school as domestic students.
Talent (Accredited Employer) work visa – this work visa is for employers that hold current Employer Accreditation with Immigration New Zealand. This allows overseas employees who hold either a permanent or fixed term contract for at least 24 months to be granted a “work to residence” work visa. This visa type is granted for 30 months, and after working for 24 months (usually for the same employer), the employee will be eligible to apply for residence status through a streamlined process. There are maximum age (55 years) and minimum base income (currently NZ$55,000) thresholds to be met along with the requirement that the employer’s accreditation status remains valid throughout the work visa validity.
Specific Purpose or Event work visa – this is the ideal work visa where a business is seconding or transferring a worker temporarily to New Zealand. Typically, workers on these visas are payrolled offshore (although this is not a requirement) and they have a specific reason, for a set time frame, to be in New Zealand. There is no need for labour market testing. Some examples of situations where this visa is appropriate could be where an overseas worker:
- is undertaking work activities in New Zealand for the employer’s business, or at a client site, for a specified length of time (could be a few weeks, or up to 3 years);
- has responsibility for Australia and New Zealand, and needs to travel frequently to New Zealand as part of their role (could be for a few days, weeks or months at a time);
- is upskilling New Zealand employees on a product or company processes or assisting with a client project.
There are other, less common types of work visas but the above three visas cover most situations.
If you have a work visa question for New Zealand, please contact our office and we will be pleased to introduce you to Karen Justice in our New Zealand office.
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