New Zealand Immigration – Information on Working Visas

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by Sarah Marten 

If you apply and are granted a position with a New Zealand University it will be offered on the provision that you are able to obtain a New Zealand Visa. However, the university will be able to provide assistance and guidance to newly appointed staff from overseas.

Most work and residence class visa categories require a person to have a job offer before they can get a New Zealand work or residence class visa.

A university or other employer can support someone in their application for a work or residence class visa if they can establish the applicant is eligible and that there are no New Zealanders available to do the work. This largely depends on the type of job being offered, and the skills and experience in doing that job.

Applicants must also meet the Government’s health and character requirements and their qualifications and work experience must be verified.

The following organisations can also provide help with visas for working in New Zealand: 

www.immigration.govt.New Zealand

The New Zealand Department of Immigration has a number of different immigration streams including:

1)      Work to residence – Talent category

Skilled workers can be employed under the “Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Policy”. Accredited New Zealand employers can offer work to non-New Zealand citizens or residents without having to prove that there are no suitably qualified New Zealanders able to fill the post. Workers accepted under this category can become eligible for New Zealand residence after two years.

Currently there are eight universities in New Zealand accredited to offer positions to overseas academics without the need to prove there are no suitably qualified New Zealanders able to fill the post: University of Auckland, Massey University, the University of Waikato, Victoria University of Wellington, Auckland University of Technology, University of Canterbury, University of Otago, and Lincoln University.

Under this category you need to be working in the new job for a minimum of two years and be earning at least $55,000.

If you have any children or a partner who plan to study at tertiary level during your stay in New Zealand, they will be charged international student fees if you are granted a visa under this category.

This visa category allows you to work and live temporarily in New Zealand for 30 months, but after working under this category for 24 months you are able to apply for residence under the Residence from Work Category. 

2) Skilled Migration Visas

There are a number of requirements for skilled migrants under the New Zealand points-based system including: age, heath and character, English abilities, a recognised qualification and work experience, family already in New Zealand and a job offer.

An offer of employment qualifies for points under the system if:

  • the offer is for genuine, full-time employment in which the employee earns a salary or wages or holds a contract position. Positions paid by commission or retainer do not gain points
  • the offer is for ongoing employment
  • the employer has a history of good work practices, such as meeting all New Zealand immigration and employment laws
  • the employment of the applicant meets all New Zealand immigration and employment laws and policies.

This category allows you to work in live in New Zealand permanently and is the most direct pathway to New Zealand residency. 

3) Visitors’ Visas

Visiting academic staff who are British citizens or holders of a British Passport are eligible to visit New Zealand without a visa for up to three months and may study one course of up to three months, or undertake personal studies. 

If you wish to stay longer you should apply for a Visitor’s Visa, which will allow you to stay in the country for nine months. You will be required to show that you have enough funds to support yourself, and any family accompanying you, for the length of your stay.

4) Other Visas

Academics may also be eligible for a Specific Purpose or Event (Temporary) Visa if they have an invitation by a university or short-term job offer, and the university can confirm to Immigration New Zealand that the prospective employee needs to work in New Zealand for the period of time requested, and they are qualified or skilled in areas relevant to the purpose or event, and their skills, attributes or expertise will benefit New Zealand

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