ESSENTIAL SKILLS WORK VISA FOR NEW ZEALAND
A popular temporary work visa options that allow employment in New Zealand from 1 to 5 years.
A POPULAR OPTION
By far the most popular temporary New Zealand work visa option, the Essential Skills Work visa requires you to have an offer of full-time employment in New Zealand. There are specific requirements for a job offer to be acceptable. Your job must be skilled, you must be deemed qualified for the position offer, and paid at or above a certain salary threshold, determined by the skill-band of your employment.
CAN I BE OFFERED EMPLOYED WITHOUT HOLDING A VISA?
This is a frequent question; have a look at our ‘catch-22’ page.
HOW LONG CAN I STAY IN NEW ZEALAND FOR?
This visa is granted from 1 to 5 years, may be renewable. You may also study for up to 3 months per year, or as part of your employment (if required by your employer).
Although this visa does not lead to residence, it is often used as a stepping-stone towards an application under the Skilled Migrant Category.
Depending on your situation, your Essential Skills Work Visa may come with conditions. These could specify restrictions in regard to:
- A specific occupation, and/or
- A specific employer, and/or
- A specific location, and/or
- Travel restrictions
Unless your occupation features on one of the Essential Skills in Demand lists, your employer will need to prove they have attempted to recruit New Zealanders before they can hire a migrant.
Note, there are no English requirements for this visa, although INZ will expect you to have sufficient English proficiency to fulfill your work obligations.
THE NEW ZEALAND WORK CULTURE
You have decided to move to New Zealand, work here temporarily, or your company overseas is sending you over here for the set period of time. What can you expect?
A ‘CAN DO’ ATTITUDE
New Zealanders are known for their hands-on approach to work, where they simply get on the job and get it done. We also have a tendency for collaboration rather than strict hierarchy. In most companies, everyone is expected to contribute ideas and innovation is usually rewarded accordingly.
SMALL BUSINESSES, BIG ACHIEVEMENTS
40% of NZ’s economy runs on business that has under 20 employees, with the average business counting just 13 employees. As mentioned above, this allows for greater collaboration across all levels of a company. Another positive effect is a potentially less bureaucratic system. It is not uncommon for a junior staff to swiftly work alongside senior management if it is for the greater good. Status is not as important as overseas, and first names rule in the workplace. You may also be working in a less specialised environment, which in turn will get you involved in a wider array of tasks and expand your skills, making your job more interesting. Multitasking and flexibility are highly-valued assets in the New Zealand work culture and you will be judged by your skills, not your rank.
If New Zealanders are inherently independent folks, the small size of our businesses means it could be difficult to work efficiently if you never break the ice with your new workmates. Kiwis are known for being very welcoming and warm towards newcomers, so don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know, and avoid that awkward culture clash. Work events are frequent, whether for a rugby game, to welcome a new staff or farewell another, and good opportunities to get to know your colleagues.
With such fantastic natural backdrop and safe environment, New Zealand is very family-focused. Businesses shut rather early in the afternoon, with very few cafes being opened after 5 pm outside of major urban centers. Employers can be very understanding of family commitments and will usually allow time for special events, providing your professional performance meets their requirements and you are not taking advantage of their flexibility.