The New Zealand immigration system is complex and ever-changing, with many new rules and easily missed details. Even if you’re just beginning your research, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

We’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions about our services, migrant visa applications, and employee work visas that we hope will help.

Should you need further assistance, we suggest booking a one-hour discovery session with our principal lawyer Aaron Martin, who will review your case, answer any questions you may have, and advise you on the best course of action. While there is a fee associated with your session, you may find that one hour with Aaron is all you need. If your application is ready to submit but you’d like a professional to look at it first, we recommend Aaron’s 90-minute immigration clinic. We are also happy to provide full services for more complex situations.

For more information, contact us by phone or email with the details of your case:
+64 (0)9 869 2952

About NZIL services

What are the fees for NZIL’s services?

We don’t offer a fixed fee for our services. This is because our services are personal to the client, and the time it takes to resolve their concerns can vary. For specific fee estimates we invite you to speak to us in more detail about your case so we can give you an indication of our costs.

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Why should I use NZIL?

Unfortunately, some applicants simply will not meet the criteria to be issued a visa. We know of many cases where a candidate submitted their application only to find they were not eligible.

We understand the system and requirements and can review your documents and advise you on the likelihood of success. This could potentially save you thousands of dollars in wasted application fees if you don’t have a strong case.

We can look over your application and give you in-depth advice on a clear pathway forward. With our many years of experience in dealing with complex immigration matters we will be able to direct you on the best course to take.

Can NZIL get me a job offer?

No, we do not provide any job-seeker assistance.

What is the difference between an immigration adviser and an immigration lawyer?

Generally, an immigration adviser charges a fixed fee to assist with the visa application process. The fee will be set based on the average complexity and time it takes for the advisor to support a visa application.

At NZIL, we take a more personalised approach. We will always customise our services to your requirements. First, we assess your eligibility and determine which visa you should apply for. Then we advise you on how to provide the best evidence to support your case. We can then assist in preparing your application to ensure it meets the necessary criteria. This means that, in many cases, we may cost less than an advisor as we only charge you for the advice you need.

If there are any issues that require legal counsel or special consideration, we can also represent you in court.

Can you guarantee that my application will be accepted?

No. We can only follow best practice and provide you with the information and support you need to be able to submit a complete and relevant application that fulfils the criteria set out by Immigration New Zealand policy.

If we doubt that your case will succeed, we will advise you of the reasons why. And if we don’t think you should apply, we will let you know.

About migrant visas

Please note: The Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa is being closed permanently.

What is the process of applying for a Work Visa?

From 2021, one new temporary work visa (known as the Employer Assisted Work Visa) will replace these visas:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa — approved in principle
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa

The conditions of this visa, like how long it is valid for will be based on the remuneration of the job rather than skill level banding, method currently being used.

How does New Zealand’s immigration system work?

New Zealand’s immigration system can be complex. See our How to Migrate to NZ guide to understand how it works.

How do I know whether I’m eligible?

There are different requirements you’ll need to meet, depending on the type of visa you’re applying for.

Get more information about the different types of visas.

How long will my visa application take?

Depending on your circumstances, the process of obtaining a visa through NZIL can take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. Each case is different. It also depends on which type of visa you are applying for. When you work with us, we will always provide a clear guideline on how long it will take.

For more information, visit the processing times page on Immigration New Zealand’s website.

Do I apply for a job or a work visa first?

In most instances you need a job offer from a New Zealand employer before seeking a work visa. The exceptions to this are if:

  • You qualify for a work visa under the Working Holiday Visa category
  • You are in a relationship with a New Zealand resident, visa holder, or citizen
  • You are graduating with a tertiary qualification.

Find out more about the different work visas you can apply for.

What is the cost of living in New Zealand?

This will vary for each person. Use Immigration New Zealand’s Cost of Living Calculator to get an idea of what your expenses will look like.

Are my skills in demand?

You can check whether your skills are in demand by visiting the Immigration New Zealand website.

If your skills are on the long-term shortage list, you have a possible pathway to residence after having worked in New Zealand for a period of time.

Is my family allowed to come with me?

Depending on the type of visa you’re applying for, your family will generally be able to join you in New Zealand. However, there are limitations. Some are based on the remuneration level of your job offer.

However, if you apply for a Skilled Migrant residence visa, you can include your family in your application. Get more information about the different types of visas.

Will my job pay for relocation costs?

If you are offered a job in New Zealand your employer may offer to cover your relocation costs. This is something you will need to discuss directly with your employer.

I don’t have any formal qualifications, but I do have skills and experience. Can I still get a work visa?

It is not essential to have formal qualifications to gain a work visa. But you must be able to document that you meet the criteria stated by the employer in the job description as necessary to be considered for the position. A lack of formal qualifications may, however, make it harder for you to qualify for residence if you are seeking to make a permanent move.

Are my qualifications recognised in New Zealand?

New Zealand recognises some international qualifications, but there are some that need to be assessed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). For a fee, NZQA can check whether your qualification is recognised in New Zealand.

If I receive a job offer, do I have to stay with that employer?

If you receive a job offer and obtain points under the Skilled Migrant Category based on the offer, your residence may be conditional upon you working for that employer for a specified period of time. That condition will be stated on the Residence Visa.

If you are on a working visa, the visa will generally be tied to the job offer. This means you’re required to stay with your employer. There are some exceptions to this where the work visa allows employment with any employer.

Is there an age limit for visa applicants?

There are certain age requirements for different visa types, which is why you need to check the eligibility section before applying. While there isn’t any age limit when applying for a work visa, most residence visas require applicants to be younger than 55 years old.

I’m from the Pacific. How do I migrate to New Zealand?

If you’re from Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tonga, or Fiji, you can register for a ballot to come to New Zealand. If your registration is drawn from the ballot, you can apply for residence. To find out more about the ballot, visit the Immigration New Zealand website. You can also learn more about all the different resident visas available.

My partner lives in New Zealand and I’m in another country. Can I move over to live with them?

If you’re applying for a visa based on your relationship, you and your partner will need to meet specific criteria in order to apply. Learn more about the visa requirements for you and your partner.

If you’re looking to move your family over based on your working visa, find out more about family visa options.

I’ve finished studying in New Zealand. What visa can I apply for to start working?

If you’ve completed studies in New Zealand and have obtained a recognised qualification, you could be eligible to apply for a work visa to work for any employer.

Depending on your qualification, you may be able to work in New Zealand for up to four years and potentially gain residence.

Learn more about the visas you can apply for after completing your studies.

Is it cheaper to get a visa through Immigration New Zealand or through an immigration lawyer?

Generally speaking, it will be cheaper to apply for a visa through Immigration New Zealand. However, if you have filled the forms out incorrectly or have failed to supply the required documents, your application could be rejected or even declined.

The procedure for applying for a visa is complex – and rife with potential pitfalls. This is why an immigration lawyer can benefit your case. When you submit a visa application, an immigration officer will evaluate your documentation to assess whether you meet the criteria. Applicants often submit incomplete documentation or fail to make a clear and compelling case that will satisfy the applicable rules.

For more information about what an immigration lawyer can do for you, check out our services.

About employee work visas

What is the process for getting a prospective employee a work visa?

See our Employers’ guide to recruiting offshore staff for more information about the process of obtaining a worker’s visa.

Note: In 2021, employer accreditation became compulsory for any business wishing to hire or continue to employ workers from overseas. As you’ll see, the process is quite complicated! Learn more about how we can help you get accredited.

My prospective employee is on a visitor’s visa. What visa will they need to commence work?

The Essential Skills Work Visa is the largest category of work visa issued to people who have been recruited by New Zealand businesses. If you want to offer a job to a foreign national, that person will most likely apply for this category of work visa. There are some exceptions, but they will depend on the nature and purpose of the employment.

Successfully securing an Essential Skills visa requires you, the employer, to demonstrate that you have advertised the job locally but been unable to recruit a New Zealand citizen or resident from the local labour market. Evidence of attempts to recruit locally is key to success here, the only exception being if the role is an area of skills shortage.

For more information about recruiting overseas workers, read our Employers’ guide to recruiting offshore staff.

How long will the process take?

A work visa application can be put together relatively quickly and usually takes 25 working days to be processed. The application can also be processed through Immigration New Zealand’s online system, which can facilitate a very quick turnaround of anywhere between 48 hours and one week.

For more information on the process, read our blog about recruiting offshore staff.

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Need immigration advice?

Feel free to call us with your concerns or make an appointment to see how we can work with you.

We have a fluent Mandarin speaker in our team if you need Chinese language assistance.

Case Review

Need a Review of your Case?

If your case is more complex, consider our 60-minute Immigration Clinic. In this one-on-one appointment with immigration lawyer Aaron Martin, you can talk through your specific issues and gain insight on the best approach.

Make an appointment or contact us to see how we can help.