Things to consider before hiring migrants

Hiring migrants is a great way for you to maintain and grow your business – especially if you are looking for workers with skills that are in short supply. Here are some key things to consider before you start hiring from overseas.

Why hire migrants?

Migrant workers can do more than just fill a gap in your staffing. They bring with them an international perspective and connections, provide support to upskill local employees, add diversity, and generally can help businesses to stay ahead of their competition.

Search locally first

Before looking overseas for workers it's important to check there are no New Zealanders that can do the job. New Zealand’s immigration policies are designed to enable employers to access the skills they need to fill gaps in their workforce. And great care is taken to ensure that New Zealanders with comparable skills are not displaced.

Depending on the applicant's visa type, you may need to provide evidence that you couldn't find a suitable local candidate.
Attempts to recruit New Zealanders

Immigration options for hiring migrants

All migrants need a valid visa with work rights before they are able to start work in New Zealand. 

It's important to note that potential or new migrants do not need a visa to apply for jobs, as in many cases a job offer is required to support their visa application. 

Check someone can work for you 

Although you can offer a job to someone who doesn't hold a work visa, they must have a valid visa with work rights before they can begin work. Not all migrants are entitled to work while they are in New Zealand (including visitor visas). You must check that any potential employee has the right visa to work in New Zealand before they start working for you.

VisaView allows you to check whether a person who is not a New Zealand citizen can work for you. 
Check a candidate's visa status

Familiarise yourself with the visa options

There are a number of different visa categories for people wanting to come to New Zealand. Here is a summary of the main visa types.

  • Visitor visas – all visitors to New Zealand have a Visitor Visa. Holders of Visitor Visas are not permitted to work in New Zealand.
  • Open work visas – some visas allow migrants to work for any employer. Common types include:
    • Working Holiday Scheme - holders can work full-time, but cannot take up a permanent role. Some countries have stricter restrictions
    • Student visa - holders may usually work for a maximum of 20 hours each week, though some may work full time during major holiday breaks
    • Partnership visas - partners of visa holders with work rights, may be eligible to work for the duration of their partner’s visa (or for up to two years for partners of resident visa holders or New Zealand citizens)
    • Post Study work visa - open visa - allows former international students to work for any employer for 12 months to give them time to find a job relevant to their qualification
  • Employer supported work visas – these visas are tied to specific jobs and have a set duration. Common types include Work to Residence visas, Essential Skills Work Visa, Recognised Seasonal Employer Limited Visa, Specific Purpose Work Visa, and Post Study Work Visa - Employer Assisted. To remain in New Zealand, the visa holder must apply for a new visa before their current visa expires. 
  • Residence visas – residence visa holders are able to work for any New Zealand employer. Common types of residence visa include the Skilled Migrant, Investor, Family and Pacific Quota categories.

Now that you know the basics, explore these pages to learn more about hiring migrants:

Explore immigration options
Finding and hiring workers overseas