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NZ's Work to Residence Visas - FAQs

10 September 2021

What is a Work to Residence (WTR) Visa?

A Work to Residence (WTR) Visa is not the actual name of a single NZ work visa. 

A Work to Residence Visa is a specific category of temporary work visas - each one granted for 30 months at a time - that allows visa holders to work in NZ for 24 months and then apply for residency.

Which work visas fall under the WTR visa category?

While there are a few different visas that fall under this category, the two most popular visas - the Accredited Employer (Talent) Visa and LTSSL Visa - accounted for 95% of all work to residence visa applications in 2020/2021, according to Immigration Statistics.

  1. The Accredited Employer (Talent) Visa: This 30 month visa allows visa-holders to apply for residency after holding the visa - and working with an accredited employer - for 24 months.
  2. The Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) Visa: This 30 month visa is available to people that have been offered a job on NZ’s long-term skills shortage list - which is updated from time to time to reflect NZ’s employment market.

What are the different WTR Visa requirements?

Although each of these work visas allow visa holders to work towards NZ residence, their requirements are vastly different:

Requirements of the Accredited Employer (Talent) Visa

This temporary work visa can be granted to applicants who:

  • Are 55 years or younger
  • Meet the health and character requirements for residence
  • Meet the requirements for bona fide (genuine) applicants
  • Meet the requirements to lodge such an application in the appropriate manner
  • Earn at or above $79,560 p.a 
  • Work full time with an employer that already holds ‘Accreditation’ granted by INZ
  • Work in the employer’s core area of business and holding an offer of employment for at least 24 months

Requirements of the LTSSL Visa

This work visa can be granted to applicants who:

  • Are 55 years or younger
  • Meet the health and character requirements for residence
  • Meet the requirements for bona fide(genuine) applicants
  • Meet the requirements to lodge such an application in the appropriate manner
  • Have the specified work experience, qualifications and occupational registration to work in an occupation on the LTSSL list
  • Hold an offer of employment for at least 24 months, in an occupation that is included on the LTSSL at the time that their application is made and that meets the specifications for that occupation

Are there any changes planned for these Work Visas?

Yes! 31 October 31 is the official end date to submit new applications for both the Accredited Employer (Talent) Work Visa and the LTSSL Work Visa. This means that 31 October is the last day that an application can be submitted for either of these two visas.

If you are an individual who meets the requirements for either of the two visas listed above - you must submit your visa application quickly but accurately. If you manage to successfully submit your application by this day then you will be able to leverage this work to residence pathway.

If you are one of the 1771 already accredited employers  - you may actually be able to use this situation to your advantage until 31 October 2021. Learn more about the opportunity this situation presents to you here.

If you would like to better understand how the above could impact you,
reach out to us to set up a time to talk.

What happens if I miss the deadline to apply for either the Accredited Employer (Talent) Visa or the LTSSL Visa?

Unfortunately, after 31 October, you will not have the opportunity to apply for either the Talent Visa or the LTSSL visa again. 

If you have the opportunity to apply for either the Talent Visa or the LTSSL visa - now, ahead of the deadline - we recommend that you take it. If you’re not sure if you qualify, or how to get started, contact us for a short discussion.

What happens to my Talent Visa/LTSSL Visa after 31 October?

If you are a current Talent or LTSSL Visa holder, there will be no change to your situation: You will continue to enjoy the benefits of this work to residence opportunity and you will be able to apply for residence once you’ve held your visa for 24 months - under the same salary conditions your work visa was granted.

What happens if I cannot submit my residence application by 31 October 2021?

That’s okay! If you are not able to apply for residence before 31 October, you can still apply for it after the date has passed. But you must maintain a valid and appropriate work to residence visa at all times - even while your residence is being processed (which can take up to 2 years). 

What happens if my Talent/LTSSL visa is due to expire but my residence has not yet been approved?

In September 2020, INZ created a policy specifically for applicants in this situation. You can apply for a subsequent Talent/LTSSL visa as long as your residence application has been submitted.

Considering non-prioritised residence applications are taking upwards of 22 months - you most likely will need to get a new work visa.

Won’t I get an interim visa if my residence application has been submitted and my Talent/LTSSL visa will soon expire?

No, because you are applying for a permanent visa - residence - you will not be granted any sort of interim visa. That is precisely why the subsequent Talent/LTSSL visa will be so important - if you do not hold a valid and appropriate work to residence visa while your residence application is underway, Immigration New Zealand will suspend the processing of your residence application.

Do I need to meet English language requirements to apply for a WTR Visa?

You do not have to meet English requirements in order to apply for either the Accredited Employer (Talent) Visa and the LTSSL Visa.

Can I support my family on my WTR Visa?

Yes. 

Depending on the situations of your family, they can apply for visas relevant to them. For example, if you are on the Accredited Employer (Talent) Visa, your partner can apply for a Partner of a Worker Work Visa. If you have children, depending on their ages, they could apply for either the Dependent Child Student Visa or Child of a Worker Visitor Visa.

Currently, NZ borders are closed so the above options are only available to partners and children already in NZ.

How long does it take a WTR Visa to be approved by INZ?

Since the borders closed in 2020, WTR Visas have been taking up to 4 months to get approved. However these time frames are constantly changing - it’s best to check the most recent timeframe as you get closer to submitting your application.

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