Work Visas

NZ Work Visa |
Work In New Zealand

Working in New Zealand is a fantastic experience, given the inclusive and open work environment, the high standards of ethics and integrity at the workplace, and the warm and inspiring attitude of the people here. All in all, NZ offers an unparalleled work experience!
Check out this guide to living, working and moving to New Zealand that will certainly bring the idea home.

Understanding the NZ Work Visa Fundamentals

Generally speaking, the Work Visa is your golden ticket to stay and work in New Zealand. It entitles you to a great life – while you explore the boundless gifts of NZ, you are also exposed to the exclusive work culture, remuneration and benefits.
And, it can lead to Permanent Residency. If you are thinking of obtaining a PR visa but are not eligible yet, you may start your journey with a Work Visa, gaining requisite experience and qualification.
The accrued work experience will add immensely to your resume. And, with tons of lucrative, enterprising and bold options to undertake, the opportunity to define your own career path is the biggest pull!

A List Of The Work Visa Categories Available

There are a great many categories of Work Visas available, and the good news is that you may be eligible for one or several of them depending on your needs, situation, qualification, work experience, and location, among other factors.

Study to Work Instructions

For those who have gained a qualification from NZ (that is recognized under the Skilled Migrant Category) the pathway to a Work Visa is straightforward. The ‘Study to Work Instructions’ has 2 sub-categories of Work Visas available, as follows:

Post Study Work Visa (Open):

Often referred to as a ‘Job Search’ visa, this visa allows you to search for a suitable job leveraging your NZ qualification. The qualification makes you eligible and earns you ‘points’ under the Skilled Migrant Category. This visa has open work rights which means you can work for any employer in New Zealand at any position. Depending on the qualification gained in New Zealand, duration of this visa varies as follows:

  • 3 Years: If the qualification gained is degree level 7 or higher
  • 2 Years: if qualification is a Graduate Diploma leading to professional registration.
  • 1 Year: If the qualification gained is at level 4-6 or non-degree level 7.


Please note that currently we are in transitional period in which there are some exceptions to above criteria. Contact us for more information.

Student and Trainee Work Visa

If you need practical work experience as a part of your study or training, you can apply to do it in NZ under this category. A range of practical work experience categories are covered under this visa, from formal religious training, practical dental or medical training, or completing an apprenticeship as a jockey. Depending on your specialization, study or training, you need an offer of practical work experience, a place on a training programme or an apprenticeship from an employer, institute, trainer or organization within New Zealand.

It may be important to note, that if you will be studying for more than 3 months at a tertiary education institute, you should apply for a Student Visa instead.
The Student and Trainee Work Visa is valid for a duration of 6 months (and up to 4 years for certain programs.)

  • Medical and dental trainees can stay for up to 6 months
  • Students undertaking practical training can stay for up to 6 months
  • Religious trainees can stay for up to 36 months at first
  • Apprentice jockeys can stay for up to 4 years

Essential Skills Work Visa

To be eligible for an Essential Skills Work Visa, you require a signed job offer and written employment agreement from a New Zealand based employer that is relevant to one of the recognized job titles under the Skilled Occupation Category. Additionally, you also need the educational qualification or supporting work experience to meet the eligibility for the job title..

What sets this visa apart is that it applies to essential skills only. The skills should and must be a part of the Essential Skills in Demand Lists published by Immigration New Zealand.

The employer is required to confirm that no persons are available locally within NZ with those skills to take up the offer of employment. And that they have made significant efforts to recruit locally before reaching out to overseas persons.

The employer is also required to submit the evidence of all effort made towards the claim, such as job advertisements, where and for how long their adverts ran, notices, employment statistics, and an explanation why local New Zealanders considered for the job were not deemed suitable.

Work to Residence

This category is for people with exceptional skills and talents, whose skills and talents are in great demand in New Zealand. This includes New Zealand based employers looking for specific skills, people recruiting in niche fields such as arts and culture, people working in areas of absolute skills shortages, and religious workers and institutions.

The Work to Residence Visa is a popular way of qualifying for NZ residence. The Temporary Visa/Permit serves as a crucial intermediary step towards settling in New Zealand permanently.

There are 5 streams in the Work to Residence Policy, all of which are multiple-entry visas allowing permit holders to work in New Zealand for 2 years before being eligible for residence. These are:

Talent (Accredited Employers) Work Instructions:

This policy is for applicants who have the skills required by an NZIS-accredited employer to hire overseas workers.

Talent (Art, Culture and Sports) Work Instructions:

This policy is for applicants with exceptional talents in arts, culture or sports who can positively contribute to the development of New Zealand in one of these fields.

Long-Term Skills Shortage List Work Instructions:

This policy is for applicants working in an occupation on the Long-Term Skill Shortage List.

Religious Work Instructions:

This policy is for applicants who are religious workers working for religious institutions and faith centres.

South Island Contribution Work Instructions:

This policy is specifically for applicants from the South Island.

Family Stream Work Visa

This category is detailed in Family Visas. Click here to Explore.

Seasonal Work Visa

The purpose of this visa is to support New Zealand based horticulture and viticulture industries by providing them with sufficient workforce seasonally and when needed. With this visa, you can plant, maintain, harvest or pack crops for an approved employer.

To be eligible for this visa, you must have an offer of employment from a ‘Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE)’, or a recognized employer under this category. Further, you must be at least 18 years of age or older and must meet a few basic health and character requirements to apply.

People who are already in New Zealand on a Student or Visitor Visa can make a one-off application for a work visa under the ‘Supplementary Seasonal Employer Work Visa’. However, you can only apply if there are not enough New Zealanders available to do the work and you can apply only once.

International/Humanitarian Category

This category contains various special types of visas supporting humanitarian causes and/or international trade policies. The specific types of visas available under this category have been listed below:

  • Working holiday scheme
  • Diplomatic, consular and official staff
  • Refugees
  • Partners of military visa holders
  • Pitcairn Islanders
  • Interpreters from Japan
  • Thai Chefs
  • China Special Work Instructions
  • Philippines Special Work Instructions
  • Vietnam Special Work Instructions
  • Indonesian Special Work Instructions
  • Primary Sector Trainees
  • Republic of Korea Special Work Instructions
  • Victims of People Trafficking
  • Working as a part of Contracting Party to the Antarctic Treaty

Foreign Crew of Fishing Vessels

This visa is for foreign crew members who wish to work for a New Zealand based fishing vessel. This visa will permit you to work in New Zealand waters for a duration of up to 12 months.

To apply for this visa, you will require a valid offer to work as crew aboard a fishing vessel. You will also be required to have the necessary skills and experience to perform your job. For this reason, it is considered a good idea to keep your seaman’s book up-to-date. A seaman’s book is a great way to document your experience and it may serve as a supporting document when you apply for a work visa.

The employer is required to agree to cover the costs of accommodation and living expenses. They will also need to confirm that there are no local New Zealanders available to do the work they are offering.

Silver Fern Work Visa

This visa is for people who are highly skilled and experienced, and who are within the age range of 20-35 years. There are 2 sub-categories of this visa type:

Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa:

This is an open visa which allows you to come to New Zealand and search for appropriate employment. This visa is normally granted for 9 months. You cannot sponsor your family to accompany you when applying for this visa.

Silver Fern Practical Work Experience Visa:

If you hold a Silver Fern Job Search Visa and have an offer of employment which is for a duration longer than 12 months, you can apply for this visa, which will allow you to stay and work in New Zealand for up to 2 years. You may then also be eligible to apply for Permanent Residence under the Skilled Migrant Category.

This visa is a great pathway to residence for people who are experienced and/or trained in religious work. Needless to say, the primary focus of this visa category is to enhance and advance the pursuits of religion and faith. To apply, you are required to have at least 2 years of training or work experience relevant to the role.

With this visa, you can do religious work in New Zealand and study for up to 3 months in any 12-month period.

To be granted an initial work visa, you will need to have an offer of religious work from a religious organisation as well as their sponsorship. If their offer of work and sponsorship continues, you can apply for a second work visa, then after 3 years in New Zealand, for a resident visa.

You are not allowed to include a partner or dependent children in your visa application, but they can apply for visas based on their relationship with you.

Specific Purpose or Event Visa

This visa is for those who want to come to New Zealand for a specific purpose or to participate in a particular event. To apply you will need to have skills related to your specific purpose or event. You will also be required to define the time you will need to complete your specific purpose or event.

This visa allows you to enter New Zealand and work for a specific employer for the time allowed to complete the specific purpose or event.

The specific purpose events may include business secondments or activities, sports events and activities, occupational registration activity, arts or cultural events, concerts or events by or for the entertainment industry and industrial events such as product launches, or installation events for specialized machinery. Examples of people seeking to apply under this category include business people on secondments, sports players, professional coaches, specialist installers or servicemen, and Philippines nurses seeking occupational registration.


Although the above are high-level briefs, they give you a rough idea of what each category of Work Visa entails. However, there may be exceptions applicable to your specific situation. We, at Innovius, are experts at providing fast, accurate and professional consulting services.

Talk to us about your needs. And let us find the right solution that works for you.

If you are eager to apply and want to know about your eligibility or suitability for any specific Work Visa (or any Work Visa in general), we encourage you to contact us, today. Let us help you with all the information you need!

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