New Zealand Visas

New Zealand has several skills shortages and is actively recruiting
foreign workers. Industries in particular need include education,
health and medical, information and communications technology,
agriculture and farming, engineering and trades.

Confusingly Immigration New Zealand tends to talk about visas and
permits. A visa is the label placed in your passport, while the permit
is a stamp you’ll get from immigration on arrival, dependant on that
visa. The visa allows you to travel to New Zealand, while a permit
allows you to remain in the country. This guide talks only about visas,
but if you’re applying from within the country you’ll actually be
applying for a permit.

Visa fees depend on your country of citizenship.

Who needs a visa to work in New Zealand?

Everyone, except Australian citizens and permanent residents
(including returning resident visa holders, unless their visa includes
work conditions). If you’re the spouse of a New Zealand or Australian
citizen/resident you wills till need a work visa.

However, visits for business negotiations, short-term sales trips,
work for trade missions recognised by the New Zealand government, or
work for overseas governments, may not need visas. If unsure, check here

Ways to work in New Zealand

  1. Working Holiday Scheme
  2. Temporary Work Visa
  3. Work to Residence
  4. Skilled Migrant Category
  5. Asylum & Refugee Status

1. Working Holiday Scheme

On this 12-month visa, people from 23 nationalities, including the UK,
Ireland and USA, aged 18-30 (at time of application) can take up
temporary work in New Zealand, though it must be the “secondary
intention” of your visit, after tourism.

  • Applicants must also hold an onward/return ticket or sufficient
    funds to purchase one and a minimum of NZ$4,200 for living costs, on
  • Citizens of the United Kingdom can obtain a 23-month (or
    12-month) visa, though work is restricted to 12 months. Applicants must
    hold an onward/return ticket or funds to purchase one and a minimum of
    NZ$350 per month available, on arrival. A Medical and Chest X-Ray
    Certificate is required for the 23-month option
  • The Working Holiday Scheme visa can even be applied for from
    within New Zealand and is best done so online at

2. Temporary Work Visa

  • The Essential Skills Work Policy allows those with a job offer
    from a New Zealand employer in an occupation that’s in demand to gain a
    Temporary Work visa.
  • If your occupation is on the Long Term Skill Shortage List
    (LTSSL) you are entitled to go for visas under the permanent Work to
    Residence or Skilled Migrant categories (more below). If it is on the
    Immediate Skill Shortage List (ISSL) you can apply for a Temporary Work
  • If your occupation is not on either list, you may still be able
    to obtain a visa if your potential employer proves they have genuinely
    searched for suitably qualified New Zealanders.
  • Applicants must pass health (a Medical and X-Ray Certificate) and
    character (a police certificate) requirements, as well as proving they
    are suitably qualified. Temporary Work visas are valid for either three
    or five years.
  • Those wanting to join a partner in New Zealand are eligible for a
    work visa under the Family Stream Policy. Applicants must meet health
    and character requirements and show they are living together with their
    partner in a “genuine and stable relationship.”
  • The Student and Trainee Work Policy is aimed at helping students
    who need work experience, while the Study to Work Policy allows
    overseas students who have completed a qualification in New Zealand to
    stay and work after their studies, in areas suitable to their
  • Those who want to come to New Zealand to work on a specific
    purpose or event should apply for a Specific Purpose or Event visa.
    Similarly, tour guides, leaders or escorts will need a Specific Purpose
    work visa. 
  • Nine-month Work visas are available for business personal under
    the Long Term Business Category, which allows applicants to establish a
    business in New Zealand.  You must be of good health and
    character, have reasonable English, a sound business plan and evidence
    of enough money to support yourself and any partner or children. Before
    the nine months expire you can apply for a further Work [visa] of up to
    three years. There are further visa options for potential investors.
  • The Horticulture and Viticulture Seasonal Work Stream includes
    special policies related to seasonal work. There is also a Work
    Exchange Scheme Policy, work visas aimed at religious and fishery
    workers and particular work visas relating to Chinese citizens.

3. Work to Residence

  • Work to Residence is a visa path, which enables in demand
    occupations to obtain a 30-month work visa that turns into a permanent
    visa, or “residence”. If your occupation is on the LTSSL and you have a
    job offer, you could be eligible for this visa.
  • As well as health and character requirements you must prove you
    are suitably qualified, that you are either fully or provisionally
    registered (if your occupation requires it) in New Zealand and under 53.
  • For occupations not on the LTSSL, you could still earn a 30-month
    visa under the Talent (Accredited Employers) Work Policy. For this,
    employers must be accredited to recruit staff from overseas.
  • Sportspeople, artists, arts and cultural performers may
    alternatively be eligible for a 30-month work visa under our Work to
    Residence, Talent (Arts, Culture and Sports) Work Policy.

4. Skilled Migrant

  • Applicants do not need a job offer for a Skilled Migrant visa. As
    well as health, character, and English language skills, applicants must
    be aged 20-55 (inclusive) before you start the process.
  • An Expression of Interest (EOI) is lodged and applicants get
    points for certain factors, including qualifications, whether you have
    a job (or one waiting for you), previous work experience and your age.
  • If you don’t have enough points (140) for an automatic Skilled
    Migrant visa, you may still get one if there’s an annual shortage in
    your occupation. Alternatively, you may be invited to apply for a
    Temporary Work visa.

Visa details do change regularly so check the website for updates,