Offering a job to a migrant

You can legally offer a job to an overseas candidate before they have a work or resident visa.

If you find a candidate who requires a visa to be able to start working for you, they will need a little more time for this to happen and they will also need some assistance from you. The first step is to provide them with an offer of employment, which includes a clause saying something like "Subject to immigration criteria being met".

Your migrant candidate can then use this offer of employment to support their visa application.

Check if a migrant can work for you

As an employer, you have an obligation under the Immigration Act 2009 to check if a potential employee has the legal right to work for you in New Zealand before they commence employment. The Immigration Act is clear that employers must not hire migrants who are not entitled to work for them. The onus and obligation is placed on the employer.

Candidates do not need a valid visa to be to be offered a job – but they must have one that allows them to work in New Zealand by the time they begin working for you, sign an employment agreement, and start their employment. 

It is easy to check whether your prospective employee is allowed to work for you. But it is important for applicants to give their authority for you to use their information for the purpose of confirming work entitlement and identity. 

Check someone can legally work for you

Penalties for hiring someone who is not allowed to work in New Zealand

There are penalties for hiring a person who is not entitled to work for you. It is important to check and keep records to show you that you completed a check.

You can be issued an infringement notice with a fee of NZD$1,000 for individuals or NZD$3,000 for companies for hiring a migrant who is not allowed to work in New Zealand.

You could also be prosecuted for allowing or continuing to allow a migrant to work while knowing that person is not allowed to work in New Zealand. The maximum penalty if you are convicted for this offence is a fine of NZD$50,000.

The maximum penalty for exploiting a migrant who the employer has allowed to work while knowing that person was not entitled to work, is imprisonment for 7 years or a fine of NZD$100,000, or both.

Employers cannot:

  • give immigration advice to a candidate unless you are a licensed immigration adviser, or exempt from being licensed ( e.g. Citizens Advice Bureau, lawyers.) You can direct them to the Immigration New Zealand website for information and details or phone our Customer Service Centre.
  • hire a migrant with a temporary visa to provide commercial sexual services.
  • hire migrants and pay them less or offer them conditions below New Zealand’s workplace minimums — they have the same rights as New Zealand citizens and residents.

Immigration law for employers