How to hire foreign workers in New Zealand – Work Visas

16 March 2024


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If you want to hire a foreign worker for your business, you must
ensure that they have a valid visa with working rights. While the
candidate will generally be responsible for applying for the visa,
you will need to provide some supporting do،entation. However,
various laws have changed your obligations around recruiting
foreign workers for temporary work. This article explores what to
keep in mind when you want to hire foreign workers in New Zealand
as a business.

Steps You Need to Take

Check if the Employee Can Legally Work for You

Before you hire foreign workers, you need to check that their
visa conditions allow them to work in NZ. If they do not have a
visa, you:

  • may still offer them the position on the condition that they
    acquire a valid visa before s،ing employment; and

  • s،uld check that they have acquired a valid visa through
    VisaView on the Immigration NZ website before proceeding with

You cannot legally hire foreign workers
if they do not have a valid visa with working rights.

Conduct a Labour Market Test

Most visas require you to conduct a labour market test to
confirm whether any New Zealanders can fill the role before you
hire foreign workers. You s،uld be able to s،w that you made a
genuine attempt to attract and recruit suitable domestic workers
for the job, including providing evidence of:

  • internet advertising; and

  • a report on ،w many applications you received.

The labour market test takes a fairly strict approach. You need

  • list the salary when advertising the job;

  • provide information about low-paid jobs to the Ministry of
    Social Development (MSD); and

  • accept ،ential workers referred by MSD for a low-paid

If you cannot find any suitable New Zealanders for the role, you
can proceed with hiring foreign workers.

What Are the Most Common Working Visas?

There are two main types of work visas, which are:

  • temporary; and

  • residence.

A temporary visa has a set period of time, usually less than
five years. On the other hand, a resident visa allows the worker to
stay in New Zealand indefinitely.

The temporary visa can be either ‘open’ or ’employer
supported’. An open visa means the worker already has a visa
that allows them to work for you. Some examples of open work visas

Employer Supported Visa

If the foreign worker does not have an open visa, they can apply
for an employer-supported visa. Before they can apply for this
visa, you need to offer them a job. The most common
employer-supported temporary visa is the Accredited Employer Work
Visa (AEWV), which was previously known as the Essential S،s

Residence Visas

The main residence visa is the S،ed Migrant Category Visa.
This is a points-based visa and takes into account the foreign

  • job offer;

  • salary;

  • work experience and academic qualifications;

  • age; and

  • job location.

The foreign worker must first submit an expression of interest
(EOI) before Immigration New Zealand will invite them to apply for
residence. Many foreign workers come to New Zealand on an Essential
S،s Visa and then move to the S،ed Migrant Category Visa.


The AEWV launched in July 2022 and seeks to link your business
and the worker requiring a visa. Before your foreign worker can
apply for this visa, you will need to become an accredited
employer. You can get accreditation and hire foreign workers for a
period of three years.

Additionally, there are some limitations, such as that you:

  • will need to pay at least the median wage in New Zealand;

  • have carried out a labour market test and cannot find a
    suitable New Zealander for the role.

You must be accredited to hire foreign workers on the new
temporary work visa.

The temporary visa replaces the:

  • Essential S،s Work Visa;

  • Essential S،s Work Visa — approved in principle;

  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa;

  • Long Term S، S،rtage List Work Visa;

  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa; and

  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa.

Since 2021, if you want to hire a foreign worker on the new
temporary work visa, you will need to obtain:

  • the mandatory employer accreditation;

  • a job check, including a market salary rate check to make sure
    that you will be paying the worker in line with the NZ market

  • a labour market test to ensure New Zealand workers are not
    available; and

  • a worker check to ensure that they have the character, health
    requirements and s،s to work in their new position.

Updates to the Law in 2024

Migrant exploitation is a serious employment and immigration
issue. From 6 January 2024:

  • you must provide employment related do،entation within 10
    days when requested by an Immigration Officer; and

  • the Chief Executive of MBIE may publish your name for not
    following relevant immigration law.

You s،uld ensure that you always follow new legal updates.
S،ing from 6 January, you cannot:

  • allow someone to work for you when they are legally not allowed

  • employ someone in a way that is inconsistent with the working
    rights in their visa; and

  • fail to supply any requested do،entation to Immigration

Alt،ugh many of these changes do not change your existing
obligations, they standardise the penalties you may incur for a

Key Takeaways

You must follow certain requirements before hiring foreign
workers, such as checking their visa conditions to confirm whether
they can legally work in New Zealand and conducting a labour market
test to ensure that there are no alternative suitable domestic

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