Immigration information for Visa applications

Immigration New Zealand has made major changes to the Talent Work visa (Accredited Employer work visa) and Parent Resident visa. If you are already in New Zealand on a temporary work visa, your existing visa status will not change.

Most of the changes affect employers more than migrant workers. Please note that, while the changes have been made, the parent category is currently on hold due to COVID. Watch this space for updates.

Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa

As of 7 October 2019, the following changes apply:

  • the annual salary limit increases from NZD $55,000 to NZD $79,560
  • the option to get a Permanent Resident Visa based on a Talent (Accredited Employer) Resident Visa has been removed

Currently, if you have a Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa issued prior to 7 October 2019 and you earn NZD $90,000 or more a year, you can apply for a Talent (Accredited Employer) Resident Visa and get a Permanent Resident Visa.

Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa

From 7 October 2019, you will no longer be able to apply for a Silver Fern Job Search Visa. If you already have a Silver Fern Job Search Visa, you can still apply for a Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa.

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
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa, and
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience 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. Read our blog post here to understand how it operates.

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.

For more information about the different types of visas click here.

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 general information about process times for visa applications handled by Immigration New Zealand, visit the ‘processing times’ page on Immigration NZ’s website here.

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.

Click here to find out more about the different working visas you can apply for.

What is the cost of living in New Zealand?

This will vary for each person. Click here 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 to this.  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. For more information about the different types of working visas, click here.

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. However, you must be able to document that you meet the criteria the employer stated in the advertising 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). Check whether your qualification is recognised in New Zealand here.

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 on applying for a visa?

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.

To find out more about the different visas you can apply for, click here.

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.

To find out more information about the visa requirements for you and your partner, click here.

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

To find out about the visas you can apply for after completing your studies, click here.

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 be of benefit for your case. When you submit a visa application, an immigration officer will evaluate your documentation to see whether you fulfil 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 here.

Information 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. Contact us.

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 service to your requirements. First, we assess your eligibility and review the potential visa that would be suitable to apply for. Then we advise you as to what you need to do 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 say so.

Employer information

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

Click here to read out ‘Employers guide to recruiting offshore staff’ and for more information about the process of obtaining a worker’s visa.

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 to this, but it depends on the nature and purpose of the employment.

Granting of the Essential Skills visa is dependent upon you, as the employer, demonstrating that you have advertised the job locally and been unable to recruit a New Zealand citizen or resident from the local labour market. Evidence of the attempts to recruit from the local labour market are key to success here. The only exception is if the role is an area of skills shortage.

For more information about recruiting offshore, read our ‘Employers guide to recruiting off shore 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 very quick turnaround of anywhere between 48 hours to one week.

For more information surrounding the process, click here to read our blog about recruiting offshore staff.

Skilled Migrant Residence Visa Applications

If you have skills, qualifications or experience that New Zealand needs you may be able to apply for a resident visa under the Skilled Migrant Category.

The Skilled Migrant Category is a points system based on factors such as age, work experience, your qualifications, and an offer of skilled employment. You must also be aged 56 or under, and meet English language, health, and character requirements.

  1. Self-assessment
  2. Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI)
  3. Receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA)
    • If you have 160 points or more you’ll be selected from the Expression of Interest pool and may be sent an Invitation to Apply
  4. Submit a resident application
  5. Receive your visa
    • If successful, you will be issued a resident visa, provided your application includes a job offer from a New Zealand employer.
    • If your application does not have a job offer you will be invited to seek a 9 month open work visa to be able to enter New Zealand to find a skilled job offer. You will need to find a skilled job in that time frame to conclude your residence application and have a resident visa issued.

You can apply for any visa directly through Immigration New Zealand, or with the help of our immigration services here.

To find out more about how the immigration system works, click here.

If you know that you’re eligible for a Skilled Migrant Visa, read our blog here to find out what you need to know about this visa category.