The Essential Skills Policy of Immigration New Zealand (INZ) allows foreign nationals who have a job offer in New Zealand to apply for a work visa, which, if granted, will be specific to the position, employer and location.
The job offer must be for full-time sustainable employment (at least 30 hours per week) for the duration of the visa.
Every application under the Essential Skills Policy is subject to a labour market test. This test can be met by the position being listed on one of INZ’s Essential Skills in Demand Lists (The Immediate Skill Shortage List or the Long Term Skill Shortage List). Both Lists are reviewed twice a year).
The test can also be met if INZ is satisfied that there are no New Zealanders who can do, or be readily trained to do, the job offered and that the employer concerned has genuinely searched for suitably qualified and trained New Zealand workers.
This often involves INZ conducting a labour market check by consulting with Work and Income on the availability of suitable New Zealand workers.
The employer can help in this assessment by listing the position with Work and Income and providing evidence to INZ with the application of the advertising they have conducted (the more evidence the better).
Labour market checks with Work and Income are compulsory for positions categorised as being skill level 4 or 5, such as horticulture, viticulture and dairy workers and waiters.
In addition to these checks, INZ must be satisfied that the applicant is qualified by education and/or work experience for the position and meets INZ health and character requirements.
When a work visa expires a further visa can be issued on application, provided the employer can prove to INZ that there are still no suitable New Zealand workers available to do the job and that other visa conditions are still being met. When an initial temporary work visa is issued, there is never a guarantee that a further visa will be granted.
During the period of a visa, the visa-holder may apply for a variation to visa conditions in order to change employer or the location of the employment, but if the type of work is different, they need to apply for a new work visa with labour market testing as outlined.
The Essential Skills policy does not apply to Australian nationals, because they are free to live and work in New Zealand as they wish, just as New Zealanders are able to do in Australia.
Source: Immigration New Zealand