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Hiring someone from overseas

Any employee who isn’t a New Zealand citizen needs to have the right visa to work here. It’s their responsibility to arrange it, but you need to check it’s correct before they start.

Taking steps to make sure their status is correct could save you hassles, time and even fines.

If you hire an employee who isn’t entitled to work in New Zealand (even if they tell you otherwise), you could receive a fine of up to $50,000 or face other penalties.

Everyone you employ needs a written employment agreement.

Everyone you employ needs a written employment agreement.

You must do it by law, and it’s a great foundation for an employment relationship. Our new Employment Agreement Builder (external link) will help guide you through the steps to create a proper agreement.

Checking they’ve got a visa

You can’t directly ask someone from overseas about their personal history or country of origin in a job interview, but before you hire them you can ask to see evidence they’re allowed to work here.

This could be:

  • a New Zealand passport
  • a New Zealand citizenship certificate
  • a New Zealand residence visa
  • a New Zealand work visa
  • an Australian passport, citizenship certificate or permanent residence visa.

Read about checking a candidate's visa status and using the VisaView tool (external link) on the Immigration New Zealand website.

casestudy AlwaysCheck

Case study

Always check

Craig and his wife Divina own a Filipino restaurant in Rotorua. Newly in charge of the kitchen is Manny, a Filipino-born chef hired after their head chef retired. Four months later, a joint random check by Immigration New Zealand officers and MBIE’s labour inspectors reveals Manny is an illegal worker. 

Craig and Divina tell the inspectors they didn’t think to ask if he was allowed to work in New Zealand — he was already in the country and gave them a tax code declaration (IR330).

Unfortunately, this isn’t considered a “reasonable precaution”. The pair now face a fine of up to $10,000.

Find out what you know about hiring and managing people.

If they don't have a visa

You can offer someone a job if they don’t have a work or residence visa yet, but they’ll need to get one before they can start working for you. Many New Zealand visa categories require workers to have a job offer before they can get a visa.

You may be asked to provide information supporting their visa application, including:

  • completing an Employer Supplementary Form (external link)  
  • evidence that there are no New Zealanders available to do the work (usually either because the job is very specific, or they have unique qualifications or experience that you haven’t been able to find here).

The Immigration New Zealand website has information sheets to help you if you’re considering hiring someone from overseas, including:

You can also provide the link to these factsheets and discuss the information before the candidate decides which visa option to apply for:

Helping someone move here

If you’re employing someone from overseas and want to help them move to New Zealand, you have to be careful not to breach the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act (2007).

It’s not an offence for you to provide publicly available information with potential migrants. But only licensed advisors, or someone specifically exempt from licensing requirements, can provide immigration advice.

You can find information on immigration advice, and refer candidates to any information on the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) website (external link) , suggest they contact the IAA by phoning 0508 422 422 or by emailing info@iaa.govt.nz.

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