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When it comes to work visas, the main option for skilled migrants in New Zealand is currently the Accredited Employer Work Visa.
With a New Zealand work visa, you can undertake work and supplement the labour force in the country.
The primary work visa that New Zealand offers is the 'Accredited Employer Work Visa' or AEWV. This type of work visa is the most common and is 'employer-assisted' i.e. it is tied to a single employer and a certain job. AEWV can be applied for only after the 'Job Check' application has been approved.
Then there are secondary work visa options, but they are only granted in specific circumstances (eg for a project), or after study completion or as a result of partnerships with New Zealanders or other work visa holders. These types of work visas include the Specific Purpose Work Visa, Post Study Work Visa and Partner Work Visas.
Here are some key points that are relevant to all New Zealand work visas:
‘Work’ has a specific definition in immigration: it means any activity undertaken for gain or reward that can be valued in terms of money, i.e., a payment, reward, or benefit.
Breach of visa conditions is a common problem for ‘employer-assisted’ work visas due to their restricted work requirements.
Full-time employment is considered to be at least 30 hours of work per week.
Family members apply for their visas separately.
If you're looking to eventually settle in New Zealand, you can explore the various resident visa options presently being offered.
A Job Check is a crucial step that must be completed before a migrant can be invited to apply for an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV).
This gate will only be open to an employer once accreditation has been granted by Immigration New Zealand (INZ).
The AEWV work visa is the only work visa available to employers wanting to support a migrant worker, and it replaced the Essential Skills Work Visa on July 4, 2022.
The Job Check has been introduced to ensure New Zealanders are not overlooked for the job, employers are offering attractive wages to New Zealanders, and migrants are mostly filling high-paid and skilled jobs.
Accredited Employer Work Visa
This visa can be applied only once the employer is accredited and a job check is approved.
You can apply for an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) if you:
• Have a job offer from an accredited employer
• Prove that you have the skills and qualifications for the job
• Have a good health and character
Your visa will be valid for up to 5 years if you are paid at or above the New Zealand median wage of NZD $29.66 an hour, and for up to 2 years if you are paid below the median wage for some certain roles. You can only support your dependent child's visitor or student visa if you earn at least NZD $43,322.76 each year. A Variation of Conditions will need to be applied if you want to change employer, job or location.
Post Study Work Visa
This visa is the go-to option for many international students after successful completion of their studies. It has open work conditions with provisions for the holder to work for any employer.
Previously, people holding a Post Study Work Visa were able to work in any role, for any employer, anywhere in New Zealand. Under the new settings, their visa conditions depend on the qualification they have gained in New Zealand.
An applicant may be granted only one Post Study Work Visa, and they will need to show they have NZD $5,000 of available funds
The Post Study Work Visa will continue to be valid for up to three years.
For most people, the length of the Post Study Work Visa will match the time they have spent studying fulltime in New Zealand. To be eligible, degree level 7 and above students must have spent at least 30 weeks studying fulltime here. Non-degree level 7 and below students must have completed their full qualification here.
Partners of students will receive an open work visa if their partner is studying:
• for any master’s or doctoral degree; or
• a level 7 or 8 qualification on the Green List or the Qualifications Eligible for a Post-Study Work Visa list
Partnership Work Visa
If your partner holds (or applies for) a student or work visa, or is a New Zealand citizen/resident, you may be eligible to join them under the New Zealand Family immigration stream.
To be eligible for NZ Partnership Visa:
- You must be coming to New Zealand to join or accompany your partner
- You must prove that you are living in a genuine and stable relationship
- You must both intend to be in New Zealand for the same amount of time
- You must meet health and character requirements
You would be required to prove your partnership to INZ and it must meet the criteria of genuine, stable, living together and credible. The type and duration of the New Zealand partnership visa you are granted can depend on living together evidence you can provide and the visa of the main applicant.
There are provisions within the current border exemption categories for partners of New Zealand citizens and residents to be able to come to New Zealand.