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Essential Guide for Working in New Zealand: Comprehensive Guide to Applying for a Work Visa


In the current era of globalization, more and more professionals are seeking opportunities to work and live abroad to broaden their horizons, enhance their career skills, and experience different cultures. New Zealand, with its magnificent natural scenery, high quality of life, and stable work environment, has become an ideal destination for many job seekers. For those who aspire to start a new chapter in this land full of opportunities, understanding and obtaining a New Zealand work visa is the first step towards success.



New Zealand not only offers a diverse range of career opportunities, from tourism and agriculture to high-tech industries, but also has a comprehensive immigration system designed to attract talents from all over the world. Whether you are an experienced professional or a young individual at the start of your career, New Zealand's work environment offers a space for growth and development. However, to work in this South Pacific island nation, it is crucial to understand how to apply for and obtain the appropriate work visa.



Types of Work Visas


1. Accredited Employer Work Visa


  • The employer must be accredited by New Zealand Immigration.


  • Applicants must receive a job offer from an accredited employer.


  • The job must meet New Zealand's market salary levels.


  • Usually requires relevant work experience and/or professional qualifications.


2. Essential Skills Work Visa


  • Suitable for applicants who have found a job in New Zealand.


  • Proof is required that the position cannot be filled by a local New Zealander or resident.


  • The position must meet New Zealand's skill shortage list or provide market salary levels.


  • May require relevant professional qualifications or experience.


3. Specific Purpose or Event Work Visa


  • Suitable for individuals who need to work in New Zealand for a specific purpose or event, such as artists, athletes, or business executives.


  • Proof is required that the applicant is essential for the specific purpose or event.


  • Usually requires support from an organization or individual in New Zealand.


4. Working Holiday Visa


  • Targeted at young people (usually 18-30 years old, up to 35 for some countries), allowing them to travel and undertake short-term work in New Zealand.


  • There are annual quota limits for each country/region.


  • Usually, there are financial requirements to prove that the applicant can support themselves during their stay in New Zealand.


5. Partner Work Visa


  • Suitable for partners of New Zealand citizens or residents.


  • Proof of a stable and enduring relationship with a New Zealand citizen or resident is required.


  • Holders of this visa can work in any legal job position in New Zealand.


6. Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa


  • This is a permanent visa mainly for applicants with the required skills and experience who wish to live and work in New Zealand long-term.


  • Applicants need to go through a points-based system, where points are calculated based on factors such as age, work experience, qualifications, and job offers in New Zealand.


  • Usually, applicants' skills are required to be on New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list, or they have already secured a qualified job in New Zealand.


7. Entrepreneur Work Visa


  • This is a work visa for up to three years, designed for individuals planning to establish or operate a business in New Zealand.


  • Applicants need to have a detailed business plan and be able to prove that their business will have substantial economic benefits for New Zealand.


  • Applicants are required to invest a certain amount of money in their business and, after successfully operating the business for a period, may be eligible to apply for a resident visa.


Specific Industry Work Visas:


Visa Type Description
Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa For healthcare workers, requiring work in New Zealand for 24 months.
Partner of a Student Work Visa For partners of student visa holders.
Straight to Residence Visa For individuals working in Tier 1 green list demand positions.
Working Holiday Extension Work Visa For current working holiday visa holders in New Zealand, allowing an extended stay.
Transport Work to Residence Visa For transport industry workers, requiring work in New Zealand for 24 months.
Entertainers Work Visa For internationally renowned performing artists, entertainment workers, and entertainment industry personnel.
Work to Residence Visa For individuals working in Tier 2 green list demand positions, requiring work in New Zealand for 24 months.
Fishing Crew Work Visa For crew members working on fishing vessels in New Zealand waters.
Recognised Seasonal Employer Limited Visa For seasonal work in the horticulture and viticulture industries.
Domestic Staff of a Diplomat Work Visa For domestic staff of diplomatic, consular, and official personnel.



Work Visa Application Process


The specific process for applying for a New Zealand work visa can be divided into several main steps. Here is a detailed overview:


1. Confirm Visa Type and Requirements


  • Choose the appropriate visa type: Select the most suitable visa type based on your job type, employer's situation, and your personal qualifications (e.g., Essential Skills Work Visa or Accredited Employer Work Visa).


  • Understand specific requirements: Thoroughly understand the specific requirements of the chosen visa, including health, character, and qualification proofs.


2. Prepare Necessary Documents


  • Collect documents: Prepare all necessary documents, such as a work contract, health examination report, criminal record clearance, qualifications, and work experience proofs.


  • Translation and certification: If documents are not in English, official translation and certification are required.


3. Complete Online Application


  • Create an online account: Create an account on the official website of New Zealand Immigration.


  • Fill out the application form: Carefully fill out the online application form, ensuring all information is accurate.


  • Upload documents: Scan and upload all prepared documents to your online application.


4. Pay Application Fee

  • Pay the fee: Complete the payment of the visa application fee. The fee may vary based on the visa type and the applicant's country/region. Visit the official New Zealand website for fee information, decision times, and application locations.


Here are some specific fees for different visa types applied for by Chinese citizens from Beijing:


Visa Type Fee (NZD)
Accredited Employer Work Visa 750
Special Work Visa for China 320 (CNY)
Working Holiday Visa for China 450
Entrepreneur Work Visa 3920



5. Submit Application and Wait for Processing


  • Submit the application: After completing all steps, submit your visa application.


  • Track application status: You can track the progress of your application through your online account.


6. Receive Visa Decision


  • Wait for the decision: Visa processing times may vary based on the visa type and the volume of applications.


  • Receive notification: Once the visa decision is made, you will receive notification via email or through your online account.


7. Next Steps


  • Visa approval: If the visa is approved, you will receive a visa label or e-visa.


  • Visa refusal: If the visa is refused, you will receive the reasons for refusal and possible avenues for appeal.


  • Note: If your visa application is refused, the visa application fee is non-refundable.


If You Have Already Found a Job


If you have already found a job in New Zealand, you can apply for a work visa with the cooperation of your employer. In this case, you would typically apply for an "Essential Skills Work Visa" or "Accredited Employer Work Visa," depending on whether your employer is accredited by New Zealand Immigration. Here are some basic things you need to prepare:


Essential Skills Work Visa


  • Employer's work contract: Includes job description, salary, work location, and contract duration.


  • Labour market test (if applicable): The employer needs to prove that they have attempted to recruit locally in New Zealand but could not find a suitable candidate.


  • Health and character proofs: Includes medical examination report and criminal record clearance.


  • Qualifications and work experience proofs: Relevant academic certificates, professional qualifications, and work experience proofs.


Accredited Employer Work Visa


  • Employer accreditation: Ensure that your employer is accredited by New Zealand Immigration.


  • Job invitation: A job invitation letter from the employer, including detailed information about the position, salary, and work conditions.


  • Health and character proofs: Medical examination report and criminal record clearance.


  • Qualifications and work experience proofs: Relevant educational and professional qualification certificates, as well as work experience proofs.


Approval Time


The processing time for New Zealand work visas varies depending on the visa type and application location, and whether you are applying from outside or inside New Zealand.


Here are some specific waiting times for work visas:


Visa Type Approximate Time
Essential Skills Visa 90% of applications are processed within 4 months
Accredited Employer Visa The average processing time is 78 days
Working Holiday Visa for US Citizens The average processing time is 80 days


Once the visa is obtained, you can start preparing to travel to New Zealand, such as determining flight times, arranging accommodation, understanding local culture and laws, etc.


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This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from WOTRANSFER PTE. LTD. or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.


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