Types of Visas in New Zealand and How To Apply for One

April 10 , 2021 by: Glenn Ho

We’ve all seen the pictures. The vast scenic views, the seemingly endless lakes, the reposeful nature that slows your heart down and affords you the quiet peace that money just can’t buy. Welcome to New Zealand. A place filled with tranquillity, serenity and calm.

The current state of the world moves at breakneck speed, flooding you with endless information from social media, marketing campaigns and global news that worry you incessantly. Many have fallen prey to life passing them by, lamenting the fact that they sacrificed their youth for work and failed to truly enjoy life. Perhaps, you need a change of pace, or perhaps you are in search of greater reflection and quiet, not to be rushed by the modern world’s relentless and merciless pace. Enter New Zealand.

Interested, but afraid to take the leap permanently? Not a problem. New Zealand offers flexibility through their temporary and permanent visas. The temporary visas provide an opportunity to reside and work in New Zealand for a stipulated period. It gives you a chance to ‘test the water’, if I may, as well as experience New Zealand’s unparalleled quality of water. If you find that New Zealand isn’t your cup of tea, no hard feelings, simply pack your bags and leave. However, should you enjoy its unique lifestyle, temporary visas could also provide an avenue towards residency.

Photo on Unsplash

Temporary Visas

Under the temporary visas category, a range of work visas are available:

  1. Essential Skills work visa
  2. Working Holiday visa
  3. Work to Residence visa
    1. Work to Residence: Long Term Skill Shortage work visa
    2. Work to Residence: Talent (Accredited Employer) work visa

Essential Skills work visa

You can probably derive from its namesake that to qualify under this category, you will have to possess certain essential or specialist skills that the New Zealand labour market requires. However, the simplicity of your application will depend on whether your occupation falls under New Zealand’s skill shortage list.

New Zealand’s flexibility on its visas extends to its duration and conditions. The Essential Skills work visa’s durations and conditions will depend on your job offer terms and salary as well as pre-existing labour market conditions. You can stay up to 3 years depending on your job’s pay rate. Simply enter your personal details in the link below and get personalised information for your application process:

Should you be lucky enough that your occupation falls under New Zealand’s skill shortage list at the time of application, you will be able to apply for an Essential Skills work visa, provided your qualification and experience matches the job posting’s requirement. Your employer will not be required to provide any evidence of having first attempted to employ locals as the skills shortage list is updated frequently.

However, suppose you have received a full-time job offer, and that occupation happens to fall outside the skills shortage list at the time of application. Don’t fret. You can still apply for an Essential Skills work visa, with the caveat that there are no New Zealanders available for the posting. To that end, your employer must prove that they had previously advertised the job in New Zealand and had made genuine, but ultimately unsuccessful efforts to recruit a New Zealand citizen or resident for the job before their eventual offer to you.

The skill shortage list is extensive and constantly changing. You can check if your occupation falls under the list at the time of your application. Click the link below and enter your occupation to find out if your occupation falls under the skill shortage list:

Photo by Maklau on Pixabay

Working Holiday Visas

To be eligible under the Working Holiday visa, you must have sufficient money to pay for a return ticket home and be travelling to New Zealand primarily for your holiday, with work coming secondary. These visas are catered to the younger generation, aged between 18 to 30, but can apply to applicants between 18 to 35 where the latter hails from certain countries. You will be permitted to travel and work in New Zealand for a period of up to 12 months or even 23 months for nationals from the United Kingdom or Canada. You will be required to furnish a General Medical Certificate should you choose to apply for the 23 months scheme.

It is worth mentioning that due to the current Covid-19 climate, New Zealand has temporarily put a halt to the distribution of Work Holiday visas until further notice.

Milford Sound Fjord, South Island, New Zealand, by Julius Silver on Pixabay

Work to Residence Visa

Under the Work to Residence Visa, there are 2 main categories – Work to Residence: Long Term Skill Shortage work visa and Work to Residence: Talent (Accredited Employer) work visa. For both categories, the length of stay will be up to 30 months and is eligible for applicants aged 55 or under. It is prudent to note that under this application, you will be unable to include your partner/dependants, but they will be able to apply for visas due to their relationships with you.

For the 1st category – Work to Residence: Long Term Skill Shortage work visa – you are eligible to apply if you have:

You can check if your occupation falls under New Zealand’s Long Term Skill Shortage list here:

For the 2nd category – Work to Residence: Talent (Accredited Employer) work visa – you are eligible to apply if you have:

You can check if your job offer is from an accredited employer here:

You will have to create an account here: to start your application, but at the time of writing, it may be unavailable due to Covid-19 measures.

After spending 2 years in New Zealand on a Work to Residence visa, you may be eligible for residence status. To be eligible, you must have:

If you enjoyed your experience in New Zealand, you can apply for a Residence from a Long Term Skill Shortage list work visa if you satisfy the following requirements:

You may also apply for resident status via the Resident from a Talent (Accredited Employer) work visa if you satisfy the following requirements:

Tekapo lake, by Rana on Pixabay

Permanent Visa – Skilled Migrant Category

So, you’ve tested the water, both proverbially and literally. You’ve fallen in love with the evergreen landscape and New Zealand’s distinctive charm. You now want to make your stay permanent. Successful applicants under the Essential Skills work visa may also obtain enough points to qualify for a resident visa under the Skilled Migrant Category.

Resident visas, also known as permanent visas, grant successful applicants, who must be aged 55 or under, the right to live and work in New Zealand indefinitely and have access to the majority of public-funded services. Yes, you heard that right. Upon successful application, you will be able to live, work or study in New Zealand. Take your pick! You can also bring in your dependants, i.e. your partner and children aged 24 or under.

Like all things in life, the greater the difficulty, the greater the reward. To qualify for the benefits and right to stay in New Zealand indefinitely, applicants will have to undergo and qualify under a harder system – the aforementioned Skilled Migrant Category. It utilises a point-based system that takes into consideration factors such as:

(i) age

(ii) qualifications

(iii) work experience

(iv) whether you have an offer of skilled employment to determine eligibility under this scheme.

(v) English language ability, health, character etc.

As of writing, applicants must obtain 160 points or above to qualify under the Skilled Migrants Category. However, like the Work Holiday Visa, the granting of the Skilled Migrant Category visas has been temporarily postponed due to Covid-19, but any submissions of your Expression of Interest (EOI) to qualify under this category will remain valid when selections begin again. You may obtain a clearer estimate of the number of points you currently have here:

New Zealand mountains, by Andreas on Pixabay

New Zealand is a place like no other, with its lush nature and its deliberate, slow-paced lifestyle. While there are more barriers to entry due to the Covid-19 pandemic, if you believe that New Zealand is the place for you to better your life, you should take the necessary steps and not give up. Good things come to those who persevere.



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