Hiring a migrant during COVID-19

Find out what you need to do to hire a migrant, the visa options available, and how this is impacted by COVID-19 and changes to Essential Skills visas.

Hiring a migrant who is outside New Zealand

If the migrant you want to hire is not already in New Zealand, they will only be able to travel here if they:

  • are exempt from the border restrictions, or
  • have a critical purpose reason to travel.

People who are exempt from the border restrictions include New Zealand citizens or permanent residents with valid travel conditions and people in a quarantine-free travel zone.

Workers who have a critical purpose include critical health workers, 'other critical workers' — specialist or essential staff who we assess on a case-by-case basis — and some marine crew arriving by sea. If you are hiring marine crew or 'other critical workers', you need to make the initial request for them to travel on behalf of your workers.

Bringing workers to New Zealand

Quarantine-fee travel zones

Hiring a migrant who is already in New Zealand

If the migrant you want to hire is already in New Zealand, whether you can hire them may be affected by COVID-19 and the latest changes to Essential Skills visas.

If their visa was due to expire soon, it may have been extended due to COVID-19, or their visa conditions may have been relaxed to let them stay here for longer.

Hiring migrants in New Zealand on student, work, resident or interim visas

A booklet to help hospitality sector employers understand, plan for, and comply with New Zealand’s changing immigration environment.

Guidance for New Zealand hospitality employers

Support a candidate's visa application

You can only hire migrants if you have not been able to find New Zealanders to do the work. If you do consider hiring a migrant who is in New Zealand, there are obligations you need to meet before your potential employee can start working for you.

Find out about the requirements and conditions of various visas, and what support you can give to help your employees with their visa application process.

Check a candidate's visa status

Options for repeat / high volume hiring

If you frequently hire migrants or have many positions to fill, there are normally several options for streamlining the visa application process.


Many of these options will not be available while the COVID-19 border restrictions are in place, as migrants outside New Zealand can only travel here for a critical purpose.