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How to Get a New Zealand Work Visa & Work Permit: Requirements & Procedure

This article provides an overview of the different types of New Zealand work visas and how to apply for each one.

Key Takeaways

  • A New Zealand Work Visa enables eligible people to work safely and legally in New Zealand while meeting the country’s immigration standards.
  • To obtain a New Zealand Work Visa, applicants must be of good character, have sufficient funds to support themselves and any dependents while in New Zealand, and have an offer of employment from an approved employer in New Zealand.
  • While New Zealand has myriad work visas, the three major types are Temporary Work Visas, Essential Skills Work Visas, and Entrepreneur Work Visas.
  • Another type of New Zealand work visa is the Work-to-residency visa, which allows foreign nationals to gain permanent residence in the country after working there for at least two consecutive years.

With its prosperous economy, stable government, and some of the world’s best living standards, New Zealand remains an attractive destination for working professionals worldwide. Consequently, it’s no surprise that thousands of global citizens arrive on New Zealand’s shores each year to take advantage of the country’s many career opportunities. 

If you have ever dreamed of working in New Zealand, you must obtain a relevant work visa. This ensures you can safely and legally work in New Zealand while meeting immigration standards. 

Why Is a New Zealand Work Permit Required?

Obtaining a work permit is an essential requirement for working in New Zealand. A work permit ensures that only those who meet the required standards and criteria can access the local job market. This protects both workers and employers by ensuring they are only hiring qualified employees. 

The New Zealand government has set out strict criteria that must be fulfilled to obtain a permit, and the information needed depends on the type of visa you are applying for. As such, those looking to work in New Zealand must carefully research the requirements before applying or risk being turned down due to an incomplete application.

The Steps Involved in Obtaining a New Zealand Work Visa 

There are several steps involved in obtaining a New Zealand work visa. First, you must meet the basic eligibility requirements for applying for a work visa. These include being of good character, having sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents while in New Zealand, and having an offer of employment from an approved employer in New Zealand.

New Zealand Work Visa Application Process

The New Zealand government has designed a streamlined application process for many types of work visas. Applicants can navigate the application form and provide evidence of eligibility, such as educational credentials and previous work experience that applies to the chosen vocation. 

Processing times vary depending on the visa type and occupation, but the average processing time is around six weeks from when your application is received. To ensure your work visa application is processed quickly, applicants must ensure all required documentation is in order before submission. This helps to reduce unnecessary delays in processing and results in a quicker outcome for you.

Types of New Zealand work visa

The type of New Zealand work visa that you need depends on the type of job that you will be doing in the country. The most common types of visas are: 

1. Essential Skills Work Visa 

These visas are issued for those who are employed in an essential skill occupation, such as medical professionals or teaching staff. The duration is typically three years but can be extended if needed. To qualify, you must have a job offer from an employer in New Zealand and meet certain criteria related to qualifications and experience. 

Depending on your country of citizenship, the required documents may include a passport and associated documentation, a CV or resume outlining your relevant skills, experience, and qualifications; an offer of employment letter detailing your job offer; and verification that you have the qualifications and experience necessary for your proposed occupation in New Zealand. 

Once you have all of these documents ready to submit with your application form, you’ll also need to demonstrate sufficient funds to support yourself while in New Zealand until you secure employment and pay any associated visa costs. If all criteria have been met, you will receive confirmation of your valid visa.

2. Working Holiday Visa 

This type of visa is designed for people aged 18-30 who want to travel and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months. You must have a valid passport from an eligible country (including the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, and the UK) and meet other requirements as set out by Immigration New Zealand

The process of obtaining a Working Holiday Visa is relatively straightforward and consists of filling out an online application and paying the associated fee. Prospective visitors must also meet specific health and character requirements, and demonstrate financial capacity that includes at least 4,200 NZD to live on. 

Successful applicants can expect their visas to arrive within two weeks and are advised to ensure their passport has at least six months of validity remaining when applying.

3. Skilled Migrant Visa 

This type of visa is issued to highly skilled workers who wish to live and work permanently in New Zealand. To qualify, you must meet certain criteria related to qualifications, experience, age, language proficiency, and more. Additionally, you must pass a Points Test — which is assessed by Immigration New Zealand — that evaluates your skills against those required by employers in New Zealand. 

Once these conditions are met, successful applicants will obtain a Residence Visa which grants them official residency status in New Zealand. To remain eligible over the long term, applicants must satisfy certain criteria every two or three years. The full details of these assessments can be found on the website of Immigration New Zealand.

4. Accredited Employer Visa 

The New Zealand Accredited Employer Visa provides international employees with an efficient and timely pathway to residency in the country. This route is available to eligible employers who hold a ‘labour agreement’, which demonstrates that they have fulfilled certain organizational requirements. 

Accessing this visa pathway can result in more competitive salaries, greater career opportunities, and enhanced incentives for talented individuals looking to further their career aspirations in New Zealand. 

The process of acquiring a New Zealand Accredited Employer Visa is a multi-step procedure that requires careful research and preparation. First, individuals must be sponsored by an employer that is currently accredited by Immigration New Zealand (INZ). Sponsors must then apply to INZ to employ the individual in a role they are qualified for, proving their ability to provide opportunities for professional and personal growth. Once the offer of employment has been approved, only then can an individual begin their application for the visa itself. 

The successful applicant will need to provide evidence such as qualifications from educational institutions and legal identification documents. Following this, individual submission fees will apply before the application is processed. If all the paperwork is deemed satisfactory by INZ, the permit can be granted and immigration can begin.

5. Entrepreneur Visa

The New Zealand Entrepreneur Visa program is an exciting opportunity for qualified individuals wanting to start a New Zealand business. For people who have been self-employed in New Zealand for at least six months or have run a business in the country for two years or more, this visa allows them to live and work in New Zealand while establishing and growing their own businesses. 

To qualify, one must meet the criteria set by Immigration New Zealand and submit an Expression of Interest (EOI). An EOI is an online form that includes information about the applicant’s business concept and financial plans. 

Once the EOI is approved, applicants can apply to extend their eligibility status by providing additional documentation such as financial statements, business plans, and bank statements. After submitting this, a decision should be received within four weeks regarding their application. 

Those successful will then receive instructions on how to complete their Entrepreneur Visa application. An individual must also pass character assessments, demonstrate venture funding, and show proof of English language proficiency for the visa application process to be successful.

6. Work to Residence Visa 

The New Zealand Work to Residence Visa allows foreign nationals to gain permanent residence in the country after they have worked there for at least two consecutive years. Applicants must have an employer-sponsored job offer during this time and they must pass relevant character and health requirements. 

This visa route is designed to attract skilled individuals to work in New Zealand, thus supporting its ever-evolving economy. It also gives those who are successful in obtaining the visa a chance to live in the country and seek New Zealand citizenship.

To begin the application, prospective visa holders must first find a suitable job that has been given a Labour Market test by Immigration New Zealand. Usually this will involve having realistic working hours, decent wages, and reasonable vacation periods. The job seeker must then be offered employment and receive written confirmation from their employer before applying for the visa. 

Once accepted, applicants must meet the requirements of an acceptable standard of health, character, and any other criteria laid out by Immigration New Zealand before the visa can be finalized and issued by the New Zealand government.

New Zealand work visas — our take

Whilst applying for a New Zealand Work Visa can be an intimidating process, following the steps outlined in this article can make it much easier. It is important to remember that each application is different and some may require additional steps or documents than others. 

With proper preparation, research, and planning, obtaining a work visa in New Zealand is achievable even for those who are new to the process.

If you would like support in the NZ visa process, consider assistance from a New Zealand Professional Employer Organization (PEO) or New Zealand Employer of Record (EOR). These are specialist HR companies that  can often help navigate you through NZ immigration processes


In most cases the process usually takes anywhere from two weeks to eight weeks, depending on the type of visa requested and the individual applicant's situation.   

As with any application process, various steps must be completed and lodged accurately before a decision can be made. It is therefore important for those considering migrating to New Zealand for work opportunities to ensure they do their research before submitting an application This ensures their paperwork is compliant and complete with all necessary supporting documents.

There are generally two types of costs that are associated with New Zealand work visas. This consists of a visa fee and an immigration levy. Just as some countries may have higher fees than others, some may have a fee-waiver agreement with New Zealand.  

The indicative work visa fees typically range from $495 to $635.