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Talent Visa FAQ


Questions and Answers

Q. What is a Talent Visa?

The Talent Visa is a work visa or work permit that is designed to attract highly skilled and talented people to live and work in New Zealand. One of the main attractions of the Talent Visa is that, after living here for two years, the Talent Visa holders wanting to stay in New Zealand they can make a straightforward transition to permanent residence provided they have ongoing employment and meet health and character requirements.

Q. What is the Work-to-Residence Programme?

The Work-to-Residence Programme provides options for employers seeking to attract talented people to live and work here. The programme is called Work-to-Residence because itís major advantage is that people who come to new Zealand through this programme can become New Zealand residents after two years, provided they meet some basic criteria. There are three work-to-residence options to suit the different circumstances of employers. The Three Options are:
  1. Talent (Accredited Employers) This allows employers that are likely to recruit regularly from overseas to be accredited by Government, to offer genuine employment to talented people. People with job offers from accredited employers will be given Talent Visas, a fast, more streamlined process than other work permits and visas.
  2. Priority Occupations This enables employers to offer work to people who are in occupations that the Government identifies as "priorities", usually because of an ongoing skills shortage in those occupations.
  3. Arts, Culture and Sports
This enables cultural and sporting organisations with a high national reputation to sponsor talented people to come to New Zealand to work if they are considered to have an exceptional talent in the fields of arts, culture or sports.


Q. Why Do we Need a Talent Visa?

New Zealand faces increasing competition in the global marketplace. What is certain is that any economy that is going to succeed needs to be flexible. This policy demonstrates that we are able to take a more flexible view of the way we attract talent in the short to medium term. The days of having a long-term entrenched policy for immigration are over. We need to have a range of policies that are tailored to meet the diverse and changing needs of the global economy and labour market.

Q. How confident is the government that it will attract talented people in sufficient numbers to make a difference to the economy?

It is difficult to predict. The number of Talent Visa applications, for example, will largely depend on the number of employers applying for accreditation. The government expects that we will be able to attract enough talent to boost the performance of our enterprise and innovation sectors.

Q. Whatís Different About Applying for Residence through the Work-to-Residence Programme?

If you are a Talent Visa holder or working here through the Work-to-Residence Programme becoming a new Zealand resident is more straightforward than applying through the General Skills Category. Applicants for residence through the General Skills category are awarded points for age, skills, qualifications and a job offer in New Zealand, particularly one linked to skills and qualifications. Other health and character criteria must also be met. Applicants for residence through the Work-to-Residence Programme need to have met the criteria of their work visas and permits, have an ongoing offer of employment and meet health and character requirements.


Q. Whatís the difference between a Talent Visa and a visa gained through being on the Priority Occupations List?

With the talent visa, employers can make the judgement about what constitutes "talent" - that it's up to them. As long as they are accredited employers, then the people they recruit will be given "Talent Visas". The Priority Occupations List is about helping employers speed up the process of filling specific job vacancies where those vacancies are for occupations where acknowledged skills shortages exist. People with Talent Visas and people with visas and permits through the Priority Occupations List both qualify for New Zealand residence after two years.

Q. Why do employers need to be accredited to access the Talent Visa?

If we are going to attract talent to New Zealand we need to ensure that we gain a reputation for offering a stable working environment. We want to ensure that employers who are accredited to attract talented people are able to provide a working environment that can support these people when they come to work here. That means we need to ensure that employers of Talent Visa holders have the resource to provide them with employment and support while they are here. Because the "Talent Visa" is a work visa or permit, no job means that the Talent Visa will expire.


Q. What types of employer does the government have in mind who would become accredited employers?

The accreditation process will be designed to facilitate the entry of talented people to New Zealand across a wide range of sectors. The policy is targeting the high innovation and enterprise sectors, but other sectors could benefit too.

Q. Wonít these policies ensure employers simply by-pass New Zealanders in favour of cheaper overseas workers?

The Talent Visa policy is about attracting highly skilled people. Highly skilled people do not fall into the low-income bracket. There is a minimum salary of NZ$45,000 per annum attached to this policy to ensure that it cannot be used to bring in cheap labour. Also recruiting overseas is usually costly and research clearly shows that New Zealand employers will, in general, recruit from within New Zealand first. As far as the Priority Occupations policy is concerned, this policy is to help employers recruit in occupations where there are no New Zealanders available. The essential differences from the Work Permit are that the red tape has gone and it has a route to residence.

Q. Wonít these policies act as a disincentive for New Zealand employers to provide staff/employee training?

A commitment to training will be expected of accredited employers. We would also expect that New Zealand staff would benefit in their knowledge and skills by working alongside Talent Visa holders.


Q. With the Talent Visa are you creating a new residence category?

The Talent Visa is a work visa or permit, not a new category of residence. However, after two years the Talent Visa holder will be able to apply for residence. Highly talented people are the people we want to attract to New Zealand as residents and as long as they meet the basic residence criteria of health and character, and in this case, an ongoing offer of employment, they will be welcome to stay.

Q. Do other countries have these types of policy?

Singapore has an equivalent Talent Visa scheme in operation that works very well. Britain also has similar schemes in place.

Q. Can I come to New Zealand on a Talent Visa even if I donít want to stay long-term?

Yes. The purpose of the talent visa is to attract talented people, and they are welcomed in the short or long-term. While we would like those people to stay and contribute to New Zealand for many years, this is snot an essential feature of the Talent Visa or Work-to-Residence Programme. The residence from work provisions of this programme is only one of its benefits. The other is the speed at which Talent Visas can be processed for people with genuine job offers from Ďaccredited employersí.


Q. Can I apply for residence before Iíve been here two years?

Yes. you can apply for residence at any time, but you will need to apply through the General Skills Category and compete with other applicants on a points basis.

Q. What happens if Iím a Talent Visa holder and I resign or Iím sacked from my job with an accredited employer?

The Talent Visa is a work visa or permit and no job would mean that your work permit would expire. If you quit a job, in order to keep your Talent Visa, you would need to work for another employer "accredited" through the Work-to-Residence Programme. If you quit your job with the accredited employer and found work with another non-accredited employer you would forfeit your Talent Visa and would need to apply for a General Work permit. In this case, your new non-accredited employer would need to demonstrate that there were no New Zealanders available to do the job. In exceptional circumstances, for example, where an accredited employer is de-accredited, and you are forced to find other work, but not necessarily with an accredited employer, the NZIS has the discretion to make a variation to your Talent Visa. This variation would allow you to retain the residence from work rights.


Q. If I come to New Zealand on a Talent Visa, how certain can I be that I can become a New Zealand resident in two years?

The purpose of the Talent Visa is to provide as much certainty as possible about making the transition from work to residence. Because the criteria for becoming a resident after two years are straightforward and clearly identified before you get the Talent Visa, meeting those criteria is up to you. As long as you meet them you will be eligible for New Zealand residence.

Q. What age does the Talent Visa cut out?

People can apply for Talent Visas up to and including 55 years of age. There is no age limit for people coming to work here through the Priority Occupations List. However, for these people to become New Zealand residents after two years they will need to be 55 years of age or younger at the time they become eligible to apply for permanent residence.

Q. Will Talent Visa holders be eligible for publicly funded healthcare?

Yes, because they intend staying in New Zealand for two or more years under the scheme.


Q. Will Talent Visa holders have access to the benefit system?

No. People on Talent Visas and other visas and permits through the work to residence programme do not have access to the benefit system. They would only be entitled to access the benefit system two years after they are granted permanent residence.

Q. Would the Symphony Orchestra, for example, be able to employ a talented violinist under the Talent Visa scheme?

The NZSO has access to Talent Visas through two options. It could become and accredited employer and directly employ a violinist or it could sponsor that person through the Arts, Culture and Sports option.

Q. Can my spouse or partner travel with me and work in New Zealand?

Yes, they can. If you are applying for a Talent Visa or a work permit or visa through the work-t-Residence programme, you are the "principal applicant". The same rules apply for spouses and partners of Talent Visa holders as apply for any spouse or partner accompanying a "principal applicant" to New Zealand on a work permit.


Q. Will my spouse or partner be eligible for residence after two years also?

Yes. Again the same rules apply for spouses and partners of talent Visa holders as apply for the spouses and partners of anyone applying for New Zealand residence under normal rules. They need to meet health and character requirements and some English language requirements.

Q. How long will it take to become accredited?

Accreditation is the critical part of the Talent Visa process so it is essential that the Government is satisfied that employers who are accredited can meet their obligations towards the people they are recruiting to work and live here. So the length of the accreditation process depends on what is known about the employer. The NZIS will keep in close communication with each employer so there is a clear expectation of how long the process will take for them. The validation will include checks with ERS, WHS, ACC and the relevant trade union. But once employers are accredited, then the process of making a job offer to a talented person and that person gaining a Talent Visa is very quick.


Q. How much does it cost to become an accredited employer?

The cost of accreditation is $1,500 in the first year (incl GST) and annual re-accreditation is $400 (incl GST) each year. Accreditation is for 12 months and can be renewed on an annual basis.

Q. How long will it take to process Talent Visa/permit applications?

The NZIS is proposing a service guarantee of 5 days decision or notification as to when the decision will be made. As this is a new policy, it is proposed that this guarantee is set for six months. Some offices may be able to process faster.


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