New Zealand is a safe, stable, English-speaking country. These are three points that draw many foreigners to the country. The country has a reputation for encouraging foreign investment and has a positive attitude toward individuals who want to start their own business. So, it comes as no surprise that more and more expats will look to relocate to Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch.

However, with the exception of those moving to New Zealand from Australia, expats will need to have a work permit/work visa to legally work in the country. 

There’s an incredible assortment of working visa categories. Each category has its own requirements and loopholes. To help expats navigate this complex system, Immigration New Zealand’s website is a useful and up-to-date tool. It will help expats find the visa that suits their industry field, their skill set and their intentions. 

Whether one is a skilled worker or a labourer looking to fill a skill shortage in the country, it’s vital that expats research the work permit process as comprehensively as possible prior to application. 

Types of work permits in New Zealand

Working Holiday Scheme

Nationals of certain countries, including the UK, Canada and the USA, are able to apply for a working holiday visa for New Zealand. The Working Holiday Scheme visa allows expats to stay and work in the country for one year. It is designed for young travellers wanting to fund their travels around New Zealand. Expats planning to work in the country for longer than a year should look into longer-term options.

Generally, working holiday visa applicants must be between 18 and 30 years old, prove that they have sufficient funds to support themselves as well as proof of onward travel out of New Zealand. Expats will need to have medical insurance to cover their stay in New Zealand as well as evidence that the main reason for their visit is a holiday, with work being secondary to this.

Applications for a working holiday visa must be done online. After making their application, expats will be notified within five working days about the outcome of the application.

Skilled Migrant Visa

This visa is available for those wanting to move to New Zealand to live and work permanently. In order to be eligible, applicants must be younger than 55 years old, pass a health screening and criminal record check, and speak English. Eligibility for this visa is determined by a points system where points are received for age, experience, qualifications and employability.

The application process starts with submitting an Expression of Interest which describes their family, skills and experience. If the Expression of Interest is accepted, the applicant will be sent an Invitation to Apply.

Countries such as South Africa are not listed among the approved countries for the Working Holiday Visa and, as such, the Skilled Migrant Visa is the route that many immigrants take to find work in New Zealand.

Entrepreneur Work Visa 

This visa is for people who want to work in their own business in New Zealand. Applicants need to provide a detailed business plan and have at least 100,000 NZD to invest in the business. They also need to claim a minimum number of points on the immigration points scale. 

The visa is initially valid for 12 months in the start-up stage of the business. It can then be extended for another 24 months once the business has been set up. If the visa is granted, expats can buy or set up a business without living in New Zealand permanently. They can also use this as a first step towards New Zealand residency. 

* Please note that visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details. 

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