Immigration News

Guide to the Work to Residence Visa


If you think you might want to stay in New Zealand long-term, the Work to Residence Visa might be just the ticket. It allows you to build up two solid years of work experience and see what it’s like to live in New Zealand before you apply for residency.

There are two types of visas under the Work to Residence category:
1. The Talent (Accredited Employer) Visa
2. The Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) Work Visa.

You must be under 55 years old to be eligible for either of these visas.

Talent (Accredited Employer) Visa

Talent (Accredited Employer) Visas are granted for 30 months and can then be renewed. To be eligible:
• An applicant must have a job offer from an employer accredited through Immigration New Zealand
• The job offer must be for at least $79,560 salary per year and at least two years’ duration.

The $79,560 salary total declared for the work to residence visa application cannot include:

• Payments for benefits such as a gym membership, parking, or an insurance scheme
• Overtime payments
• Tool and uniform allowances.

Workers must complete 24 months of work in the role stated on the visa with the accredited employer before applying for residency.

What has changed recently for the Talent (Accredited Employer) Visa?

As of October 7 2019, the salary requirement for this visa jumped from $55,000 to $79,560 (or $38.25 per hour for at least 40 hours per week). This ensures that migrant workers are earning at least 150% of New Zealand’s median salary.

People issued Work To Residence Visas before October 7 2019 and are making less than the new $79,560 minimum must make sure New Zealand Immigration applies the correct salary threshold to their residency application.

Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) Work Visa

To be eligible for a Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa:

• An applicant must be offered a job that meets the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) code that is on the Long Term Skill Shortage List
• The applicant must be qualified to meet the detailed job requirements stated in the ANZSCO and the shortages list
• The employer does not need to be accredited
• The job salary does not need to meet the $79,560 minimum but must be at market rates.

FAQs about Work to Residence Visas

Can I bring my family with me to New Zealand?

Family can obtain work or student visas suitable to their needs. Note: Any children who wish to attend university need to apply for a separate student visa as an international student.

Family members can be included on the residence application but will have to meet Immigration New Zealand standards including a minimum English-speaking requirement.

When should I apply for residency under the Work to Residence category?

Workers should apply for residency as soon as they have completed 24 months of work in New Zealand. This allows 6 months to obtain residency before their 30-month work visa expires. Potential migrants can also renew their work visa to extend their stay past 30 months without applying for residency. However, this will necessitate meeting the new income threshold in their job offer.

Can I travel in and out of New Zealand while on a work permit?

Yes. Just make sure you have a multiple journey Work to Residence Visa. You must be living and working in New Zealand while holding the visa and not be working from outside the country.

How much does the Work to Residence Visa cost?

A Work to Residence Visa costs up to $635 depending on your country of origin. Applicants who apply for residency will then need to pay a visa application fee of $1800.

There are no refunds if an application is declined.

How long does it take to process an application?

It currently takes Immigration New Zealand approximately 76 days to process a Work to Residence Visa.

How can New Zealand Immigration Law (NZIL) help with your Work to Residence application?

We understand that applying for a work to residence visa is a big undertaking. Even if you meet all of the criteria, you will need to present a thorough and comprehensive case to Immigration New Zealand that demonstrates your eligibility.

Our immigration law team is here to help you get the details right and ensure your best chance of a successful application.

You can read a testimonial from a recent client whose Work to Residence Visa application was initially declined due to technical errors and incomplete information here.

If you’d like help with your Work to Residence Visa application or have any other queries, you can contact the NZIL office here.