Meeting the criteria

The criteria and evidence below will provide you with the information you need to meet the requirements.

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You must provide proof of your identity

  • 1 acceptable photo if you apply online, or 2 photos if you use a paper application form.
  • your passport or certificate of identity.

Acceptable photos

If you submit a paper application, provide your original passport or a certified copy.  We can usually process your application faster if you provide your original passport.

If you apply online, you must upload a copy of your passport when you apply. We will let you know if you need to send your passport after you've applied.

Sending your passport for online applications

Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months after you plan to leave New Zealand.


You must be of good character

You may need to provide police certificates as proof of your good character.

If you are aged 17 or older and plan to stay in New Zealand for more than 24 months (including any time you have already spent in New Zealand), you must provide police certificates from:

  • any country you are a citizen of
  • any country you have spent more than 5 years in since you turned 17.

You do not need to provide police certificates if:

  • you have provided them to us with an earlier visa application, and
  • they were issued in the previous 24 months.

Good character

How to get a police certificate

If you are applying for an Essential Skills work visa on or after 19 July 2021, and you have previously provided a police certificate with a visa application, then you do not need to provide another police certificate with your Essential Skills visa application.

New Zealand job offer

You must have an offer of full-time work

Your job offer must:

  • be current at the time you apply for your visa
  • be for full-time work

You must provide a copy of your employment agreement as evidence of your job offer. The employment agreement must include:

  • your employer’s name and contact details
  • your name and contact details
  • your job title
  • the address for your place of work 
  • the kind of work you’ll be doing and your responsibilities at work
  • details of any necessary qualifications or work experience
  • information about whether you’ll need New Zealand registration to do the work
  • how long the work will be for
  • how long you have to take up the job offer
  • pay and work conditions that comply with New Zealand employment law.

Your employment agreement must be with an employer who has a history of compliance with immigration and employment law. We won’t normally grant a visa if your employer is included on the list of non-compliant employers maintained by the Labour Inspectorate.

Employment agreements and rights

List of non-compliant employers

Your employer can’t pay you less than they’d have to pay a New Zealander to do the work.

Your job offer can’t be for work planting, maintaining, harvesting or packing crops in the horticulture or viticulture industries.

If a labour hire company has offered you work in the construction sector in Canterbury, the labour hire company must be accredited.

See a list of accredited labour hire companies

Your dependent children can apply for visas to study in New Zealand if you will be earning at least $43,322.76.

Availability of New Zealanders

There must be no New Zealanders available to do the work you have been offered

You must provide an ‘Employer Supplementary Form’ completed by your employer

Employer Supplementary Form (INZ 1113) PDF 388KB


We update this form often. Check that your employer provides you with the latest version of the form.

Your employer must also provide evidence they have made genuine attempts to recruit New Zealanders, unless:

  • you have been offered a job on one of the Essential Skills in Demand Lists and you meet the qualification and work experience requirements listed for your occupation
  • you are applying to keep working in your current role and have been invited to apply, or have applied, for a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa based on your current employment, or
  • you are applying for a visa to work in your current full-time role, with the same employer and in the same region, and you have a work visa (including a Working Holiday Visa), a student visa to study Masters or PhD degree (which has unlimited work rights), or a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa either for a critical health worker, or for more than 6 months as an ‘other critical worker’.

Your employer’s evidence can include:

  • website and newspaper advertisements
  • records of engaging with a recruitment company 
  • a Skills Match Report from Work and Income New Zealand — your employer must supply this if the work they are offering you will pay below the median wage
  • the outcome of their recruitment efforts.


Skill shortage list check

Qualifications and experience

You must be qualified to do the work you have been offered

You need to show that you meet the skills, qualifications, work experience and other requirements of the job you have been offered. Evidence of qualifications can include:

  • original or certified copies of your qualifications
  • evidence the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) recognises your qualification.

Evidence of experience can include documents that show:

  • the work that you did
  • the dates you did the work
  • how many hours a week you worked (on average)
  • the contact details for your employer or employers
  • how your work experience relates to the work you’ve been offered in New Zealand.

You can check the specific qualifications and experience you need by searching ANZSCO for your occupation. 

ANZSCO Version 1.2 | Australian Bureau of Statistics

Occupational registration

You may need New Zealand registration

If registration is required to work in your occupation in New Zealand, you must provide either:

  • a certified copy of your full or provisional New Zealand registration
  • confirmation from the appropriate registration body that you’re eligible for New Zealand registration.

Occupational registration

You do not have to provide these if you are applying for an Essential Skills visa to work in the same full-time role you currently hold, with the same employer and in the same region, and you make a declaration in your visa application form (INZ 1266) that you hold the required registration.

Not have a stand-down period

You must not currently need to spend 12 months in a row outside New Zealand as part of a stand-down period

You cannot be granted a visa to do work paid below the median wage if you are subject to a stand-down period.


The stand-down period policy has been deferred until mid 2022.

You may be subject to a stand-down period if you have spent 3 years working in lower-skilled or below median wage employment in New Zealand on an Essential Skills Work Visa. The only way to satisfy the stand-down requirement is to spend 12 consecutive months outside of New Zealand.

Being subject to a stand-down period does not prevent you from being granted an Essential Skills Work Visa for work paid at or above the median wage, or any other kind of visa that you qualify for.

Visas applied for before 28 August 2017 are not considered when calculating the time spent working in lower-skilled employment.

How pay rates affect essential skills Work Visas


Not the right visa for you?

Explore your other work visa options, see all work visas or explore another visa type.