Employing migrants already in New Zealand

Migrant employer information including Recognised Seasonal Employer and Seasonal Supplementary Employer.


Visa extensions and visa conditions

Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme 

Many RSE workers were unable to return home at the end of last season due to border restrictions.    

Workers still in New Zealand who wish to move to an employer not covered by their RSE Limited Visa must apply for a new RSE limited visa.

All RSE workers must be paid at least $22.10 per hour and for a minimum of 30 hours per week.

RSE workers who apply for a further RSE Limited Visa in New Zealand, to stay beyond the normal maximum period and who intend to be in New Zealand for more than 24 months (including time already spent in New Zealand) do not need to provide police certificates with their application.

Until 31 August 2022, the requirement to provide a chest x-ray is waived for RSE workers in New Zealand who are applying for a RSE Limited Visa and are from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Recognised Seasonal Employer Limited Visa 

Maximum stay limits

Maximum stay limits have been removed for all RSE workers. This means that RSE workers are able to apply for further RSE Limited Visas.

The repatriation of RSE workers remains a priority.

One-off “bridging” Limited visa for RSE workers

A three month ‘bridging’ limited visa will be available for some RSE workers whose visas are due to expire and they cannot be repatriated.

This is to allow workers to work for a Recognised Seasonal Employer while they await a rescheduled flight.

Visas will be granted to those who:

  • are in New Zealand,
  • hold RSE limited visas that expire in 30 days or less,
  • are unable to be repatriated to their home country before their visa expires because they have either booked a flight which has been cancelled, or are booked on the next available flight which is after the date of their visa expiry,
  • have an employment agreement with an RSE, and
  • are named by the RSE in an undertaking that has been provided to Immigration New Zealand.

An Agreement to Recruit (ATR) or RSE Limited Visa application is not required. There is no application fee.

Employers are required to submit an undertaking to Immigration New Zealand. This confirms that the worker is awaiting repatriation, and that the employer will take all reasonable steps to provide full time work and provide pastoral care.

RSE Undertaking for the grant of Limited Visas for certain RSE workers awaiting repatriation PDF 246KB

Verify visa date and other details | Visa Verification Service

The Government recently extended the cap to 16,000 for the 2021/2022 season.

The stand-down period for RSE workers wishing to return for the 2021/2022 season is reduced from four to two months.

If an RSE worker in New Zealand is required to isolate themselves for 14 days their employer must make appropriate accommodation and pastoral care facilities available for them. RSE workers are insured for medical treatment for any presenting conditions, including COVID-19.

RSE workers are entitled to government funding if they fall sick, have to isolate themselves while working in New Zealand (from the start date of their contract) or if they cannot work because the employer’s business is affected by the lockdown. Employers are responsible for applying for this wage subsidy to pay their workers.

RSE workers are able to access Essential Workers Leave Support if they can’t work. Only one subsidy at a time is payable.

Travel to Pacific Island countries 

New Zealand and Pacific Island governments are working to support the repatriation of RSE workers who want to return home. RSE workers can continue to work, while they wait for flights or for their home country border restrictions to be lifted. 

Pacific workers here who need to go home urgently should register with their High Commission or Consulate. 

Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) visas

Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) visas allow the holders to work in horticulture and viticulture seasonal roles where there are not enough New Zealanders or RSE workers available.

Employers should prioritise RSE workers for roles.

Employment laws

Workers in New Zealand with the same employer for more than 12 months are entitled to 4 weeks of paid holidays. They can ask to take a break and then return to work if their employer agrees. They do not have to take the whole 4 weeks at once.

Those who worked for 12 months in New Zealand but for different employers on fixed-term employment agreements, are not entitled to 4 weeks holiday leave. Employers can either include holiday pay as part of weekly wages or hold the holiday pay and offer a lump sum payment when the contract finishes.

Workers with their current employer for less than 12 months may still ask to take a break. Employers can choose to approve or not approve the request.

You have responsibility for: 

  • pastoral care
  • knowing where workers are going
  • any changes that may breach visa conditions

Guidelines for businesses | Ministry of Health