A New Zealand business was pleased to offer employment to a bright and talented English job applicant who interviewed well, and proved her working holiday visa allowed her to work in New Zealand.

The new employee worked well with the team, and her business acumen pushed profits up.  The employer was happy with the employee, and she loved the relaxed Kiwi lifestyle. Unfortunately, after 12 months the employer found itself in a battle to keep the employee in New Zealand.

The UK working holiday visa only allows the holder to work for 12 months, even though the period of the visa is often 24 months.

When the employer and employee sought to apply for an essential skills visa, the employer struggled to meet the essential skills requirements.  In particular, it was difficult to prove that no New Zealand workers could satisfy the requirements of the role.

Employers need to be careful when employing migrant workers to ensure that the employee’s work visa is compatible with the role’s long term requirements.

The main work visas include:

  1. Residence visa: Enables the holder to work in any position for any New Zealand employer, in full-time, part-time, fixed term or permanent roles.
  2. Essential skills work visa: Useful for bringing in skilled employees when New Zealand workers lack requisite experience and qualifications.  This visa sets out the position, employer and location where an employee may work – which can be useful for retention as the employee may need to apply for a further visa if they want to work elsewhere.
  3. Working holiday visa: Good for short term assignments where the employee is primarily in New Zealand as a tourist.
  4. Post-study work visa: An employee who completes a qualification that qualifies for points under the skilled migrant category may be able to apply for a post-study work visa. Employer-assisted post-study work visas allow the holder to work for a New Zealand employer for up to two years. Open post-study work visas allow the holder to work for any New Zealand employer, for a maximum of 12 months.
  5. Family (partnership-based) work visa: Partners of New Zealand citizens or residents may be granted an open work visa.  Partners of work visa holders may also be eligible for a partnership-based work visa.  These visas are dependent on the employee remaining in a genuine and stable relationship with their sponsoring partner.  If the partner is on a working visa, the partnership-based work visa will expire when the sponsoring partner’s work visa expires.

By carefully considering the role and the needs of the business during recruitment, employers can consider whether an offer of employment should be conditional upon the employee obtaining the right kind of work visa.