Compliance with Employment and Immigration Law for Employers

As an employer, understanding your obligations when recruiting migrants can be intimidating. However, it is not too different from hiring New Zealand citizens.

Offering a role

Employers are responsible for verifying that a person has the legal right to work in New Zealand, as per the Immigration Act 2009. It is a common misconception that a person must have a valid work visa to be offered a job, but this is not true. A migrant can be offered and accepted a role before obtaining a work or resident visa, but they must have the visa approved before starting work. Employers may verify a candidate's visa status on VisaView or ask for a document showing valid work rights.

Penalties and Fines

Hiring or continuing to employ a person who is not legally authorized to work for you can result in penalties and fines of up to NZD$50,000.

Terms and Conditions

Employers must offer the same terms of employment to migrant candidates as they would to New Zealand citizens or residents. This includes the same hourly rate and workplace standards. Migrants must also be offered the legal minimums regarding written employment agreements, pay rates, break and holiday entitlements, sick, parental, and bereavement leave, health and safety, and accurate pay and holiday records.

Penalties for Exploitation

Exploiting a migrant worker will trigger sanctions, put the employer on a list of non-compliant employers, and prohibit the hiring of migrants for a certain period. Maximum penalties for severe breach can reach NZD$100,000 and a seven-year prison term.

Immigration Advice

Only licensed individuals can provide advice on New Zealand immigration matters, except for those exempt under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007. Employers have no right to provide immigration advice, but they may point to publicly available information, licensed immigration advisers or lawyers, complete employer-related forms, and provide settlement services.

Labour Market Test

Some employer-assisted visa categories require employers to ensure that no New Zealander can fill the position before offering a role to a foreign national. This is known as the labour market test.

Job Check Assistance

Compliant employers must offer at least market rate to their candidates. Accredited employers may need to request a job check from Immigration New Zealand, which determines the need for a job check based on the job title, pay rate, and a fee payable to Immigration New Zealand.

Multiple Positions

Multiple positions for the same role may be covered by the same job check and advertising. An approved job check will be valid for six months or upon an accreditation lapsing (if not renewed).


As of 2022, the Immigration New Zealand job check fee is NZD $610. A reconsideration request for a declined job check costs NZD $240.

High Salaries

If the position offered is at least twice the New Zealand median wage, there is no requirement to advertise the role. There may also be a streamlined pathway to residence for highly-paid migrants.

Jobs at Median Wage and Above

For any other role, employers must offer at least median wage and demonstrate that no New Zealanders could be found to fill the position via a labour market test.