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Migrant workers: Getting visa applications right

If you’re hiring someone from overseas, they’ll need to apply for a visa. Here are six tips for employers to speed up the process.

Overseas workers can be a great asset by adding new skills and perspectives to your business. But migrant workers need to apply for a visa to be able to work in New Zealand. As their potential employer, there are ways you can help your migrant worker through the visa application process.

Over the next eighteen months, Immigration New Zealand will be making changes to streamline the migrant visa process. We’ll be covering these updates in future articles. But if you’re looking to hire a migrant in the immediate future, these tips can help get applications approved faster, so your new employee can start as soon as possible and on the right foot.

Temporary work visa transition information for employers(external link) — Immigration New Zealand

Immigration basics for employers

Video transcript(external link) — Immigration New Zealand

Employment agreement with all the right details

To apply for most common visas, your migrant worker will need a signed offer of employment and a copy of the proposed employment agreement. Key information often missed when applying includes:

  • correct legal name of the business
  • name and address of the worker
  • hours of work
  • the rate of pay (hourly or annual salary)
  • whether the role is fixed term or permanent – if the role is fixed term, you’ll need to provide a genuine business reason why.

Employment agreement builder(external link)

Minimum 30 hours a week

To qualify for a work visa, your migrant worker will need to be working at least 30 hours a week. This should be noted in the employment agreement. If the hours of work fluctuate, eg because of weather, the employee will still need to be paid for at least 30 hours a week.

Complete job description

Just like employment agreements, if you’re missing information in the job description, this could slow down the visa application process. Be sure to include the following:

  • job title
  • location of employment
  • tasks and responsibilities
  • skills, qualifications and experience required.

Proof you tried to hire a New Zealander

If the person you want to hire is applying for an Essential Skills work visa and doesn’t meet the criteria of one of the skill shortage lists, you’ll need to show that you tried and failed to find a New Zealander to fill the role.

Advertising for a role should be:

  • recent, eg within the last three months
  • at least two weeks (can be one week for certain ANZSCO skill levels – more on this below)
  • widely circulated, eg using TradeMe or Seek (social media alone isn’t enough)
  • relevant to the position, ie don’t include any skills not required for the role.

Promoting your job vacancies overseas(external link) — Immigration New Zealand

Essential Skills employer guide [PDF, 349KB](external link) — Immigration New Zealand

Correct ANZSCO code

ANZSCO stands for Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations. Immigration New Zealand uses ANZSCO codes to classify and assess the skill level of jobs. If your migrant worker is applying for an Essential Skills work visa, you need to find the ANZCO code that best describes the role. You can use the Skill Shortage list checker to find the ANZSCO code that is right for the role.

Skill shortage list checker(external link) — Immigration New Zealand

Skills match report

As well as an ANZSO code, each role has an ANZSCO skill level between one (high-skilled) and five (low-skilled). If the Essential Skills work visa role is skill level four or five, you’ll need to advertise the vacancy with Work and Income. If they can’t find the right candidate, you can ask them for a Skills Match Report to show there are no suitable New Zealanders available to do the job.

Hiring someone from overseas(external link) — Work and Income

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