Updated last year

There are many work visa options in New Zealand. The most popular way to immigrate to New Zealand to live and work is the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa.

The Skilled Migration Category Resident Visa

The skilled migration category resident visa is an indefinite visa allowing residency, working, and studying for those 55 years of age and younger who have skills to contribute to the economy. Eligibility is assessed on a points-based system and your level of English. Applying for this visa is a four-step process:

Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI)

An EOI is a preliminary application that helps New Zealand immigration assess your skills, qualifications, and general ability to relocate to New Zealand using points. Check the points indicator to see if you might be eligible for the visa. If you have 100 points or more, you can submit an EOI via. Most recently, anyone with fewer than 160 points would not make it into the selection pool, but this amount changes according to economical and immigration needs within the country.

Invitation to Apply

Once a fortnight EOIs will be selected from the pool. Points will be double checked, and if your points claim is correct and meets the minimum amount you will be invited to apply for the visa.

Submit an Application

You’ll be sent an Application for Residence under the Skilled Migrant Category. Complete and send this to New Zealand immigration. Fees and supporting documents will apply. You may also need to take an English test.

Application Decision

Immigration will make the final decision as to whether you meet all of the criteria. This includes identity, character, health, language, age, and skills. Their final decision may take up to six months.

 Good to know:

This visa is geared toward employed people. If you are self-employed you might consider the Entrepreneur Resident Visa instead.


As of 19 July 2017, New Zealand Immigration is not selecting any more EOIs from the pool due to new restrictions that will be coming into effect. New Zealand has proposed a “Kiwis first” approach to immigration that may significantly tighten the reigns on who receives work visas. Minimum salary requirements could be introduced, as well as shorter maximum stays for some visas. More information will be available in August 2017.

Other options

If the Skilled Migrant Resident Category Visa doesn’t fit your circumstances, there are other work visa opportunities. As mentioned above, there are a plethora of work visa options available, however some of them are quite niche. Be sure to check the full list online to see if any of these apply to you. The visas available to a broader range of people are likely to be the following:

Essential Skills Work Visa

Available to those offered a job by an employer who was unable to find any New Zealander who could sufficiently fulfill the role.

Long Term Skills Shortage List Work Visa

If your occupation falls on the Long Term Skills Shortage list and you are able to secure a job offer in that field within New Zealand, you can apply for this visa.

Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa

This is a 9 month work visa for highly skilled 20-35 year olds. There are only 300 available per year and the application usually opens in November - keep checking back at the New Zealand immigration website for a definite date.

 Useful Link:

New Zealand - Immigration

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