How To Apply New Zealand Work Visas and Work Permits

Broadly speaking, there are two types of work visa or permit. (Visas are issued overseas and convert to permits in New Zealand.) First there is the Work To Residence Visa and second there is the General Work Visa. We look at both, starting with work to residence.

Work To Residence (WTR)

The most desirable work visa is the Work to Residence Visa.
If you can get one, qualifying for permanent residence is straightforward. All you need to do is work in NZ for two years.
There are three main ways for job-seekers to obtain WTR;

• WR1 Talent (Accredited Employers)

• WR2 Talent (Arts, Culture and Sports)

• WR3 Long Term Skill Shortage List.
All allow you to work in New Zealand for 30 months. They are multiple entry visas so you may enter and leave New Zealand as often as you wish.

Getting a Talent Visa

The two talent visas are similar.

For most people interested in moving to New Zealand, the WR1 - accredited employer route - will be more useful.

For both types of talent visa you must be aged 55 years or younger, meet the requirements for health and character, and have found an employer (WR1) or organisation of national repute (WR2) that wishes to make use of your talents in New Zealand.

Additionally, for WR2 Talent (Arts, Culture and Sports) you need to have exceptional talent in your field, be prominent in your field, be sponsored by a New Zealand organisation of national repute and satisfy the immigration service that your presence in New Zealand will enhance the quality of New Zealand's accomplishments in your field.
Almost three hundred and fifty New Zealand employers have gained accreditation to offer jobs qualifying for WR1 Talent Visas. Talent visa jobs must be for at least two years duration, for at least 30 hours per week, in the employer's main business activity and offer a minimum annual salary of $55,000 (if you work more than 40 hours per week, the salary must be calculated at 40 hours).

Getting a Work Visa for Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL)

If you are fortunate enough to find your skills on the Long Term Skill Shortage List you will qualify for permanent residence in New Zealand after you have worked here for two years.

You have to meet the same requirements for health and character as WR1 and WR2 and should be under 53 years old when you apply for the work visa as you need to be less than 56 years old to be eligible for residence after two years.

The NZIS has to be satisfied that your training or experience qualifies you for the job you have been offered. The current Long Term Skill Shortage List consists mainly of general, medical and IT skills.

General Work Visas

If you cannot secure work with an accredited employer, or if your skills are not on the Long Term Skill Shortage List, you may be able to get a General Work Visa for New Zealand.
This is a slightly less prized visa than a WTR visa because it does not lead automatically to permanent residence.
To secure a general work visa you need a job-offer.
There is no age limit on general work visas. This may sound attractive if you are older and wish to settle in New Zealand.
You need to remember, however, that General Work Visas do not lead to residence. So, if you intend applying for residence, you will need to do this under the Skilled Migrant Category and this is age limited. You must be less than 56 years old to qualify.
General work visas are granted for a maximum of three years. Further work permits will be issued as required, provided employment is still available. There are special five year visas which are issued if your New Zealand job is classified as skill level on the ANZSCO and your salary is at least $55,000
The most convenient job you can be offered in order to obtain a General Work Visa is one on the Immediate Skill Shortage List - the ISSL.
This is because, for most jobs, if a non-accredited employer wants to offer a job to someone from overseas, they first need to prove they've tried and failed to find a suitable New Zealander for the job. This is called a labour market test.
BUT, if the job is on the ISSL (or LTSSL), employers don't need to prove this.
The difference between the ISSL and the LTSSL is that LTSSL jobs are in areas of ongoingskills-shortages. Jobs on the ISSL are those in which the skills-shortages are supposed to betemporary. Temporary, however, can still mean a number of years.
You need to remember that your qualifications need to be of the same standard as New Zealand's qualifications to be accepted. You can check this here.
If your qualification is not listed, you will need to apply to the NZQA's Qualification Evaluation Service who will assess whether your qualifications are acceptable in New Zealand.