Essential Skills Work Visa

If you’ve been offered a full-time job, and you have the necessary qualifications and experience to work in that job, you can apply for a temporary visa to work in New Zealand. Your employer must have checked if any New Zealanders were available to do the work, before offering you the job. If you’re granted this visa, you may be able to support visa applications for your partner and dependent children.


Up to 5 years depending on the skill level of the job you’re offered


With this visa you can

  • Work in New Zealand for an employer who has offered you a full-time job.
  • Study for up to 3 months in any 12 month period, or do any study required as part of your employment.

Things to note

  • Your employer needs to try to recruit any suitable New Zealanders who are available to do the work before offering you the job.
  • Your partner or dependent children may be able to apply separately for visas based on their relationship to you.
  • This visa doesn’t allow self-employment. If you want to be self-employed, you can apply for an Entrepreneur Work Visa.

New Zealand job offer

You must have an offer of full-time work

Your job offer must:

  • be current at the time you apply for your visa
  • be for full-time work

You must provide a copy of your employment agreement as evidence of your job offer. The employment agreement must include:

  • your employer’s name and contact details
  • your name and contact details
  • your job title
  • the address for your place of work
  • the kind of work you’ll be doing and your responsibilities at work
  • details of any necessary qualifications or work experience
  • information about whether you’ll need New Zealand registration to do the work
  • how long the work will be for
  • how long you have to take up the job offer
  • pay and work conditions that comply with New Zealand employment law.

Your employment agreement must be with an employer who has a history of compliance with immigration and employment law. We won’t normally grant a visa if your employer is included on the list of non-compliant employers maintained by the Labour Inspectorate.

Your employer can’t pay you less than they’d have to pay a New Zealander to do the work.

Your job offer can’t be for work planting, maintaining, harvesting or packing crops in the horticulture or viticulture industries.

If a labour hire company has offered you work in the construction sector in Canterbury, the labour hire company must be accredited.

Availability of New Zealanders

There must be no New Zealanders available to do the work you’ve been offered

You must provide an ‘Employer Supplementary Form’ completed by your employer describing the work you’ve been offered.  Your employer must also provide evidence they have made genuine attempts to recruit New Zealanders, unless one of the following applies:

  • The job you’ve been offered is on one of the Essential Skills in Demand Lists and you meet the qualification and work experience requirements listed for your occupation.
  • You are applying to continue working in the role you currently hold and have been invited to apply, or have applied, for a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa based on your current employment.

Your employer’s evidence can include:

  • website and newspaper advertisements
  • records of engaging with a recruitment company
  • a Hiring in Queenstown
  • the outcome of their recruitment efforts.

Qualifications and/or experience

You must be qualified to do the work you’ve been offered

The qualifications and/or experience you need are listed by occupation in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).  Evidence of qualifications can include:

  • original or certified copies of your qualifications
  • evidence the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) recognises your qualification.

Evidence of experience can include documents that show:

  • the work that you did
  • the dates you did the work
  • how many hours a week you worked (on average)
  • the contact details for your employer or employers
  • how your work experience relates to the work you’ve been offered in New Zealand.

You can check the specific qualifications and/or experience you need by searching the ANZSCO titles for your occupation. You’ll find these on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.
Australian Bureau of Statistics

Occupational registration

You may need New Zealand registration

If registration is required to work in your occupation in New Zealand, you must provide either:

  • a certified copy of your full or provisional New Zealand registration
  • confirmation from the appropriate registration body that you’re eligible for New Zealand registration.

Not subject to stand-down period

You must not currently be required to spend 12 consecutive months outside New Zealand (subject to a ‘stand-down period’)

You cannot be granted a visa to do lower-skilled work if you are subject to a stand-down period.

You are subject to a stand-down period if you have spent 3 years working in lower-skilled employment in New Zealand while holding an Essential Skills Work Visa. The only way to satisfy the stand-down requirement is to spend 12 consecutive months outside of New Zealand.

Being subject to a stand-down period does not prevent you from being granted a mid-or higher-skilled Essential Skills Work Visa.

Visas applied for before 28 August 2017 are not considered when calculating the time spent working in lower-skilled employment.

Immigration costs

Application cost

NZD ($)$ 495

This is the fee for Immigration New Zealand to process your application.An immigration levy is payable and is included in the total amount above.

Receiving centre fees

Passport Fee

Per ApplicantAfter you apply online you must send us your passport. The passport fee is for the Visa Application Centre (VAC) to receive and handle your passport.



within 73 days

90% of applications are currently completed within this time. Timeframes are in calendar days.