Someone from overseas can be a great asset for your business, bringing fresh contacts, skills, and perspectives. You could hire them to work in New Zealand, or their home country. Either way, you’ll need to think about certain things.
When businesses hire someone from overseas, the person usually moves to New Zealand to work. Many jobs require someone to be physically present to do work like picking fruit, providing health care and carrying out in-person training. But when you export, you might want someone to work for you overseas.
In both cases, hiring people from overseas presents unique challenges, like advertising the job, making sure they have the right visa and dealing with cultural differences. This page highlights things to think about in each case. It also discusses the new visa scheme to help businesses get the workers they need, while making sure New Zealanders are first in line for jobs.
Only licensed immigration advisers, Citizens Advice Bureau staff and lawyers can give immigration advice. That means you cannot tell people the best visa to apply for, or what documents they’ll need for their application.
But in many cases, candidates must have a job offer to support their visa application.
When you plan to hire someone to work in New Zealand, you need to advertise for the right person on a platform they use.
SkillFinder is a free online tool to connect you with skilled workers overseas interested in living and working in New Zealand.
SkillFinder(external link) — Immigration New Zealand
Finding and hiring workers overseas(external link) — Immigration New Zealand
Anyone who isn’t a New Zealand citizen or resident needs a valid visa with work rights to work in New Zealand. They need to apply for the visa but you, as the employer, will also need to take some steps. You’ll need to be accredited and show that there are no suitable New Zealanders available. We discuss this below, in ‘Hiring someone on an Accredited Employer Work Visa’.
Things to consider before hiring migrants(external link) — Immigration New Zealand
Job Check: check what you need(external link) — Immigration New Zealand
Check what tuition subsidies there are for migrant staff for work-based learning as part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Immigration Rebalance.
Rebalancing New Zealand's Immigration System [PDF, 379 KB](external link) — Tertiary Education Commission
If the person you want to hire doesn’t have a visa that allows them to work in New Zealand, they’ll need to apply for a work or resident visa — before they start work. Find out what you need to do for their application.
Recognised Seasonal Employers Limited Work Visa(external link) — Immigration New Zealand
Someone who’s new to the country might not understand Kiwi terms like ‘bring a plate’, or what a chocolate fish symbolises, so help them settle into New Zealand life. The sooner they and their family adjust, the less stressed they will be. The sooner they adjust, the better things will be for your business too, because they’ll be happier and be more productive at work.
Use these free resources and services to prepare for their arrival and help them adjust.
Support migrant staff(external link) — Immigration New Zealand
Create a welcome kit(external link) — Immigration New Zealand
Video: Preparing for your migrant(external link) — Immigration New Zealand
Check if your staff are eligible for subsidised workplace learning today.
You might not be trying to hire someone from overseas, but someone who answers your job ad may be from overseas. Even if they’re already in the country, check that their visa allows them to work here before you offer them a job.
Use VisaView to check if someone is allowed to work in New Zealand.
VisaView(external link) — Immigration New Zealand
The new median wage increase of $29.66 comes into effect from 27 February 2023. This will affect pay requirements for the Accredited Employer Work Visa and other visas, with exemptions to some sectors.
Find out more about the median wage increase(external link) – Immigration New Zealand
The AEWV is a new approach to hiring skilled migrant workers where no New Zealanders are available to do a job. Train and upskill locals wherever possible before turning to overseas candidates. In most cases, jobs available for AEWV holders must pay the market rate and at least the median wage.
If you become an accredited employer, you’ll have to commit to helping overseas workers settle in New Zealand. For example, you’ll have to tell them how to get an IRD number, what accommodation and transport choices they have, and how to get health services.
The AEWV arrangement ensures that:
The arrangement also fights worker exploitation because businesses who have failed to meet immigration requirements or employment standards recently won’t be able to take part.
Current visas continue to be in force until they expire, as long as visa holders continue to meet conditions. You only need to think about becoming an accredited employer:
Resources are available to help employers understand and communicate about the AEWV.
There are also useful resources employers can share with migrants. These include a video with subtitles available in Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Tagalog, Samoan and Tongan.
Hiring migrant workers using the Accredited Employer Work Visa [PDF, 346 KB](external link) — Immigration New Zealand
How to apply for AEWV employer accreditation(external link) — Immigration New Zealand
Accredited Employer Work Visa resources(external link) — Immigration New Zealand
Several things need to happen before someone comes in on the visa.
You'll need to meet minimum accreditation requirements. You may also have to meet extra requirements, depending on what your business is and how many people you want to hire on the visa.
You can apply for accreditation on the Immigration New Zealand website.
Applying for accreditation: checklist for employers(external link) — New Zealand Immigration
Once you’ve been accredited, apply for a Job Check. The check confirms that the job has been advertised to New Zealanders first. It also confirms things like the:
How to apply for a Job Check(external link) — New Zealand Immigration
Once the Job Check is approved, ask your candidate to apply for the visa.
You must give them a copy of the employment agreement and a copy of the signed agreement offer.
The required experience and qualifications for the job you offer them must match the approved Job Check.
You must also send the migrant a request to apply from your Immigration Online Dashboard. This sends an email to the migrant with a unique link also known as a job token. The migrant must open the link and accept the request before they can begin their application.
Workers have been able to apply for visas since 4 July 2022.
Accredited Employer Work Visa(external link) — New Zealand Immigration
You must comply with New Zealand employment rules when you hire anyone, no matter where they’re from. This includes meeting minimum employment rights, eg:
If you export or manufacture overseas, you may want to hire staff in that country. Having staff means you have more control about when and how they work than if they were contractors.
But having staff also means obligations. For example, you might have to pay employment tax, superannuation and fringe benefit tax. Also, having staff might create a “fixed place of business”, a status which could trigger more obligations like taxes and reporting.
Try to work with an independent agent instead of hiring staff, for the reasons above. Also, stopping work with an agent is usually easier than asking staff to leave.
Generally, an independent agent is someone who:
Check the laws in the relevant country and industry to find out the definition that applies to your case.
If you buy from overseas manufacturers or make your goods overseas, you’ll need to make sure the workers are treated fairly and ethically. Even if the workers aren’t your staff, customers will want to know that goods are made humanely.
You could do things like: