New Zealanders have top priority for work in New Zealand, but we always need foreign workers to fill skills gaps. Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ’s) Essential Skills policy allows foreign nationals who have a job offer in New Zealand to apply for a work visa which, if granted, will be specific to the position, employer and location.
The job offer must be for full-time sustainable employment (at least 30 hours per week) for the duration of the visa.
Every application under the Essential Skills instructions is subject to a labour market test. This test can be met by either:
This often involves INZ conducting a labour market check by consulting with Work and Income on the availability of suitable New Zealand workers. The employer can help with this assessment by listing the position with Work and Income and providing evidence to INZ with the application, of the advertising they have conducted (the more evidence the better). Labour market checks with Work and Income are compulsory for positions categorised as being skill level 4 or 5, such as horticulture, viticulture, dairy workers, and waiters.
In addition to these checks, INZ must be satisfied that the applicant:
When a work visa expires a further visa can be issued on application, provided the employer can prove to INZ that there are still no suitable New Zealand workers available to do the job and that other visa conditions are still being met. When a temporary work visa is issued, there is never a guarantee that a further visa will be granted.
During the period of a visa, the visa-holder may request a variation to visa conditions in order to change employer, but if they wish to change the type of work or region of employment they need to apply for a new work visa – with labour market testing as outlined above, unless their occupation is on one of the Essential Skills in Demand lists and the visa-holder meets the requirements specified. This will not change the expiry date of the visa.
The Essential Skills policy does not apply to Australian nationals, because they are free to live and work in New Zealand as they wish, just as New Zealanders are able to do in Australia.