How to bring workers to New Zealand if you are an employer?

If Employers and supporting agencies are finding it hard to fill job vacancies with New Zealanders, they can request to bring workers into New Zealand if the workers are considered to fall under the category of ‘other critical workers’.

 

There are 3 categories, each with their own criteria, where employers can bring employees into New Zealand:

  • worker needed for a short term role — less than 6 months in total

  • worker needed for a long term role — more than 6 months

  • worker for an approved class.

 

Applications for seasonal workers will generally not be approved.

It costs NZD $380 to make a request for critical workers. You can include as many workers as you want on the same request. Partners and dependants of other critical workers may be included in the request. If workers are eligible to bring partners and dependant children they should be included in the request. 

 

Requests are generally processed within 2 weeks.

 

If you employ a worker in New Zealand who holds a temporary visa you cannot make an application to reunite their partner or dependent children under the family reunification exception for highly-skilled workers. The worker’s partner or dependent child must apply themselves.

Border exceptions for 'other critical workers'

Criteria for short term critical workers

A worker needed in New Zealand for a short term role (less than 6 months in total) is considered an ‘other critical worker’ if the worker:

  • has unique experience and technical or specialist skills not readily obtainable in New Zealand, or

  • has a role in the delivery of an approved major infrastructure project and earn at least the median wage, or

  • is undertaking a time-critical role for:

    • a government-approved event or a major government-approved program

    • an approved government-to-government agreement

    • work with significant wider benefit to the national or regional economy. 

 

Applications for seasonal workers will generally not be approved. The only exceptions will be if the work is highly skilled or uniquely specialised. This may include:

  • highly specialist domestic veterinarians

  • vendor-appointed engineers required to install major equipment

  • an actor in a key film role.

Criteria for long-term critical workers

Workers needed in New Zealand for the long term (six months or longer) are considered as ‘other critical workers’ if they:

  • they earn at least 1.5 times the NZ median salary (NZD $84,240 a year), or

  • they have a role essential for the completion or continuation of a science program under a government-funded or partially government-funded contract, including research and development exchanges and partnerships, and have the support of the Science, Innovation and International Branch at MBIE to travel to New Zealand to carry out their work, or

  • they have a role in the delivery of an approved major infrastructure project and earn at least the median wage, or

  • their role is essential for the delivery or execution of:

    • a government-approved event, or

    • major government-approved program.

Criteria for approved classes of workers

A worker coming to New Zealand may be considered an ‘other critical worker’ if they:

  • are in a class of worker approved by Ministers

  • have been nominated by an authorised government agency or an industry group

Maritime Sector

Foreign crew who can travel to New Zealand without approval

 

Foreign crew on the following types of ships can enter New Zealand without getting approval from Immigration New Zealand: 

  • an Antarctic ship travelling to and from the Ross Dependency

  • a commercial cargo ship arriving in New Zealand to load or unload cargo

  • a foreign state ship which is a military craft granted diplomatic clearance by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

  • a ship that has an emergency and is in distress or it is necessary for the ship to arrive in New Zealand to preserve human life.

 

Foreign crew who need approval for travel to New Zealand

Foreign crew on the following types of ships will need approval from Immigration New Zealand to come here: 

  • an Antarctic ship not travelling from the Ross Dependency

  • a fishing ship unloading its catch, reprovisioning, refuelling, embarking or disembarking its crew

  • other foreign state ships granted diplomatic clearance by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

  • any other type of ship that needs to be delivered to a business for non-minor repair, refit or refurbishment or for the running of the business.

Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme 

RSE workers from the Pacific will be allowed to enter New Zealand to support the horticulture and viticulture industries if they meet the requirements for a border exception. They must be:

  • from a country that has a one-way QFT arrangement with New Zealand, or

  • from the Solomon Islands and are travelling to New Zealand in November

If workers are coming from Samoa, Tonga, or Vanuatu they may be able to travel quarantine-free.