Pathways for Employers Regularly Hiring Overseas Workers

New Zealand businesses who regularly hire migrants have several options to streamline the visa application process. VisaEnvoy can assist you in determining which option suits your business best.

Upcoming Changes in 2022

From mid-2022 the following policies will be replaced with the Accredited Employer Work Visa:

  • Accredited Employer
  • Essential Skills – Approval in Principle
  • Labour Hire Employer Accreditation

Accredited Employer

As accredited employers, businesses can regularly employ skilled migrant workers without having to complete a labour market assessment to prove New Zealanders could not fulfill the vacancy. You have the following responsibilities:

  • Must take direct responsibility for the workers you hire
  • Must pay a minimum base salary of NZD $79,560

For two years, businesses with accredited employer status can:

  • Employ skilled migrants for an initial period of up to 30 months
  • Support your workers pathway to permanent residence as workers can apply for residence after 24 months of working for you
  • Support work visa applications for multiple overseas skilled migrants

Note: from mid-2022 this policy will be replaced with the Accredited Employer Work Visa

Arts and Music Festival Approval

Arts and music festival organisers can streamline the visa application process for performers and support staff through this approval process. For four years, approved arts and music festival organisers can employer at least 10 international performers and support staff to work and perform in New Zealand on a visitor visa. To be eligible for this streamlined approval, arts and music festival organisers must:

  • Provide evidence that the festival has been established for a minimum of 3 years
  • Must bring in at least 10 international performers

Entertainment Industry Accreditation

If you are involved in the entertainment industry sector and need to hire several overseas skilled workers, you can become an accredited employer, and this allows you to hire without having to seek agreement from a New Zealand union, guild, or professional association each time you employ someone.

For two years, employers with this status can:

  • Employ overseas skilled entertainment workers without having to seek the required approvals
  • Support work visa applications for overseas skilled entertainment workers
  • Hire multiple staff

Note: the entertainment industry accreditation does not offer a pathway to residence for overseas skilled entertainment workers

Entertainment Promoters Approval

Performers and direct support staff of live entertainment can have their visa applications streamlined and simplified if they are supported by an ‘approved promoter’ and allows them to enter New Zealand as visitors.

For four years, entertainment promoters with approval can employ overseas performers and support staff to perform and work in New Zealand on a visitor visa without having to apply for a work visa.

You have the following responsibilities:

  • Provide evidence the promoter has been established for at least 3 years
  • Demonstrate you have promoted international acts in New Zealand in the past 3 years
  • Must have a history of compliance with immigration requirements

Essential Skills – Approval in Principle

If your business is approved in principle under the Essential Skills program, this allows your business to hire as many overseas skilled workers without having to conduct a labour market test each time. Overseas skilled workers can obtain a visa for up to 3 years.

For 6 to 12 months, employers can:

  • Assist overseas skilled workers for up to 3 years – note: this is dependent on their pay rate and whether it is below, at or above the New Zealand median wage
  • Complete a labour market test before you have found the candidate and be pre-approved
  • Hire as many workers can you need

Approval in Principle is not available to hire workers to plant, maintain, harvest or pack crops in the horticulture or viticulture industries.

The New Zealand Government will not give approval under this program if there are suitable New Zealand workers available.

Labour Hire Employer Accreditation

The Labour Hire Employer Accreditation program allows employers to recruit overseas skilled workers who can be granted a work visa for up to 3 years. This is dependent on the length of the offer of employment. For one year, employers can:

  • Recruit overseas skilled workers
  • Support Essential Skills Work Visa applications
  • Outsource workers’ labour to third parties you have a contractual relationship with

Note: the Labour Hire Employer Accreditation does not offer a pathway to residence for overseas skilled entertainment workers

Pacific Quotas Programme

Approximately 1,750 people from the Pacific are granted residency under the Samoan Quota Scheme and Pacific Access Category. Businesses can apply to be a Pacific Quota Employer if they are looking to hire employees through this program. For one year, employers can:

  • Employ workers drawn from a ballot for permanent employment and you do not have to complete a labour market assessment
  • Hire people within the annual quotas below:
    • Samoa – 1,100
    • Fiji – 250
    • Tonga – 250
    • Kiribati – 75
    • Tuvalu – 75
  • Must hire workers for a minimum of 30 hours per week

Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme

Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme is for employers who work in the horticulture or viticulture industry and cannot find New Zealanders to plant, maintain, harvest or pack crops. For two to three years, employers can:

  • Recruit overseas workers to plant, maintain, harvest or pack crops if you have been approved under an Agreement to Recruit
  • Overseas workers may be granted limited visas which will allow them to work for the Recognised Seasonal Employer
  • Employers need to provide a written employment contract to support the overseas workers’ visa application

Supplementary Seasonal Employment – Approval in Principle

If your business needs to supplement your New Zealand workforce with overseas workers for seasonal labour, you can apply to employ the number of overseas workers detailed in your Approval in Principle. To work for you, workers must be in New Zealand and have an Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) work visa.

As a Supplementary Seasonal Employer, you can:

  • Hire an overseas worker to work for you for up to 6 months
  • Employ overseas workers who are already in New Zealand and have an SSE visa
  • Hire the number of SSE workers approved in your Approval in Principle

This Approval in Principle application will only be approved once Immigration check work and income and ensure that there are no suitable New Zealanders to perform the work.

Work Exchange Scheme

If your business is looking to arrange short-term work opportunities in New Zealand and overseas in a reciprocal arrangement you can apply for the Work Exchange Scheme. It allows people from overseas to work for up to 12 months in New Zealand, once approved. For 12 months, employers can:

  • Employer or arrange employment of overseas workers for up to 12 months
  • Arrange work opportunities for New Zealanders in other countries
  • Improve international goodwill and cultural understanding between participating countries

Employers are responsible for arranging suitable accommodation and employment for those taking part in the scheme. This must be done prior to their arrival in New Zealand. The New Zealand guarantor must also ensure the worker can financially support themselves regarding living costs i.e. food, clothing and healthcare.

Foreign Crew on Fishing Vessels – Approval in Principle

Employers can apply for Approval in Principle to recruit 7 or more foreign workers to work on a fishing vessel. Approvals in principle will only be approved if New Zealanders cannot fulfil the roles.

Recent News

New Zealand’s International Border Reopening Plan

Claiming Points for your Age

Claiming Points for your Partners Recognised Qualifications

Claiming Points for Recognised Qualifications

Claiming Points for Work Experience

Claiming Points for Skilled Employment