If you are hoping to come to New Zealand and find a job when you are here, or attend a job interview you have already arranged, there are a range of factors you need to consider when you are making your travel arrangements. These differ for people from visa waiver countries and those who need to apply for a visa offshore, so I will address these in turn.
Don’t need to apply for a visa before coming?
New Zealand has visa waiver agreements with a number of countries that means you don’t need to apply for a visitor visa before coming to the border. If you are from the USA, Germany, Argentina or a number of other countries (full list here), you can be granted a three month visitor visa automatically at the New Zealand border.
However, just because you can be granted this visa automatically, this doesn’t mean you will be. If INZ thinks there is a high chance you are coming here to look for work and you may not leave if you’re not successful, they can refuse to let you in at the border.
One way to prevent this is to apply for a visitor visa while still in your home country and allow INZ to assess your case before you have already travelled as far as Auckland airport. You will need to provide evidence that you are a bona fide visitor as outlined in the section below.
If you are unwilling to make an offshore visitor visa application and want to take your chances at the border, make sure you have already purchased an outward ticket, that you have plenty of money in your bank account, and that you have evidence of your employability handy should you need to explain it to INZ at the border.
Need a visa granted prior to travel?
New Zealand requires people from most countries to apply for a visa before travelling to New Zealand. If you don’t already have work, the visa you are most likely to be applying for is a visitor visa.
Visitor visas are intended for people coming to New Zealand to travel, sightsee, visit friends or see the country. They allow you to stay in the country, generally for three months, without giving you the right to work.
This class of visa is not specifically designed for people coming to New Zealand to look for work. However, if your intentions are to attend a job interview – and you have confirmation from the potential employer about the date and time of this interview – or to come to New Zealand on a “look, see and decide” basis, INZ are generally able to grant you a visitor visa. “Look, see and decide” is a phrase INZ use to mean your main purpose of travel is to holiday in New Zealand and experience the country first-hand while deciding whether or not you’d like to stay here. It can include looking for work while you are here.
Their chief concern when considering this application is that you are a bona fide visitor – in other words, that you will go back to your home country if you don’t find a job. They can consider things such as your financial situation, whether you own any assets in your home country (eg a house, a business), whether you have employment back home, or whether you have strong family ties to your home country. For this reason, when applying for a visitor visa with the intention of looking for work, it is important to show evidence relating to your status in your home country.
INZ are also able to assess your likelihood of getting skilled employment in New Zealand when deciding to grant you a visa. If you have work experience or qualifications in an area of skills shortage in New Zealand, you are more likely to find a skilled job and be able to correctly apply for a work visa. If you are a labourer or cleaner without any qualifications, your employability isn’t as good and this may impact whether or not INZ grant you a visa.
Regardless of your situation
No matter your situation, it is important to be honest with INZ. If INZ think you have intentionally mislead them, it becomes significantly more difficult to successfully apply for another visa. In general, the most important things to show when applying for a visitor visa of this genre are that you are bona fide and that you have the skills to easily find employment once in New Zealand.
If you would like more information about how INZ assesses these types of visa application, the Advice To Staff issued 20 June 2014 has a clear overview of how INZ staff have been instructed to act.
Still confused? Contact us to book an appointment with a licensed immigration adviser who can discuss this in more detail and assess your individual situation.
Hyperlinks in text: http://glossary.immigration.govt.nz/VisaFreeCountries.htm