Queenstown needs workers, and due to a shortage of skilled staff, employers are forced to look overseas. However the process of employing foreign workers is not always straightforward. There are a few key steps in the visa application process that you, as an employer, need to take to help your new staff get to work as quickly and easily as possible.

As a top tourist destination, the demand for tourism workers is extraordinarily high in Queenstown. Over 94,000 jobs in New Zealand are directly related to tourism, equating to over 4% of the workforce. However tourism isn’t the only sector desperate for workers in Queenstown. Hospitality and construction are two other industries pressured by the rapid growth of the popular town. As a result, many roles end up on the national Skill Shortage list, and Queenstown employers are using overseas workers to fill the gaps.

Here’s how it works

While there are a variety of visa options available to those foreigners wishing to work in New Zealand, if you have taken genuine steps to find a suitably qualified New Zealander to fill your available role and have been unsuccessful, you may be able to sponsor a foreign worker under an Essential Skills Work Visa. If the role you are seeking to fill is listed on the Essential Skills in Demand list, you won’t even need to check for availability of a qualified New Zealander first!

Hacking the visa application process

Once you’ve gone to the trouble of finding a suitable recruit from overseas, many employers get caught out making small but time-consuming mistakes during the application process. By understanding the visa requirements and taking steps to actively avoid the common application mistakes, Queenstown employers can hack the process to get their employees in the game as quickly as possible.

We’ve complied the following list of key mistakes to avoid in your application.

The 5 most common application mistakes employers make

1. Employment agreement is incomplete

 Your migrant worker will require a signed employment offer of employment and employment agreement. Ensure these documents include:

  • Correct legal name of the business
  • Name and address of the worker
  • Hours of work
  • The rate of pay (hourly or annual salary)
  • Whether the role is fixed term or permanent. If fixed term, you need to provide a genuine business reason why.

A simple way to hack this process is to use this Employee Agreement Builder tool which includes all required information.

2. Role does not guarantee a minimum of 30 hours a week

The Essential Skills visa in particular requires that your migrant worker be working a minimum of 30 hours per week.

3. Incomplete job description

Ensure your job description includes all of the following details to help keep your visa application moving.

  • Job title
  • Location of employment
  • Tasks and responsibilities
  • Skills, qualifications and experience required

4. Lack of evidence of attempts to hire a New Zealander

If you’re looking to hire a migrant worker under the Essential Skills visa, the role must either:

  • Be listed on the Skills Shortage list


  • Have been advertised in an attempt to hire a New Zealander (proof required).

Check out details on these requirements here.

5. ANZSCO code is missing

For the Essential Skills Visa, an Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) code is required.

Find this code on the Skills Shortage list and ensure the available role meets the ANZSCO requirements here.

Give yourself the best chance possible!

While the above-listed tips are hopefully a big help in giving you a head start in your visa application process, they are by no means a comprehensive list of requirements. Give yourself the best chance possible by thoroughly researching your options and the visa application process. Check out the following links to get you started.

More information

To learn more about how to hire foreign workers, check out the following official resources from Immigration New Zealand:

Skill shortage list