Can You Apply for a New Zealand Work Visa Without a Job Offer?

New Zealand Work Visa
You have all the ingredients to make it big in the New Zealand workplace. Now, only if you could get INZ (Immigration New Zealand) to issue you a work visa, you could start rubbing shoulders with the hard-working Kiwis and show them your “can do” attitude, just like them. And to prove your mettle, you also have the excellent skills and years of experience that you could use to make valuable contributions to the New Zealand industry you’ll work in.
But does New Zealand have any open positions that you may fit and are they paying enough to make the move lucrative? To answer this question, you head out to the top NZ job portals and start browsing around. You find a ton of matching opportunities, so you fill out your profile and start applying to these jobs. Some jobs ask if you’ll need visa sponsorship to work in the position and you candidly say “yes”; after all, what could be better than a job that helps you get a New Zealand work visa!
You wait and wait, and yet receive no responses. Maybe it has something to do with that “will you need a visa” question. So, you start applying without answering that dreaded question and you hit a wall again. The employers approach you but turn you down once they find you will need a work visa before starting. No New Zealand employer is willing to extend you a job offer unless you are authorized by the INZ to work in the country legally! So, you start looking at the work visas now to see what INZ says about the requirements and how to get one (without a job offer).
You get on the Immigration New Zealand website and start exploring all the temporary work visa and resident work visa categories – this is what you find.

Essential Skills Work Visa

You are all excited to find that an employer is advertising for a full-time job that they are not able to find a local New Zealander for. Moreover, you seem to have the qualifications and experience required for the position. But wait, you dig a little deeper and find that the visa that goes well with this position, the Essential Skills Work Visa, requires you to have a job offer first. What a bummer!

Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa

There is a job opening for a position that matches a New Zealand Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) occupation. You do have the skills and experience needed for the job. You then read the INZ requirements of the Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa – unfortunately, you’ll need a job offer before applying.

Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa

INZ makes it very clear that you need a full-time job offer from an Accredited Employer before making your Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa application. Now, this may take more time and effort than you are willing to invest in approaching an “Accredited Employer” – so, you keep moving.

Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa

Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa is an invitation-based program. You use the points calculator to see how many points you can accumulate (based on your age, skills and other factors) and then you make an EOI (Expression of Interest) to the INZ. If you have more than 160 points, you stand a chance to be invited for the next step of the application process.
You get an ITA (Invitation to Accept) from the INZ and make a formal visa application. If your visa is granted, you can move to New Zealand and work. Yay! You have hit the jackpot. But wait, isn’t this process longer than you prefer. Isn’t there a lighter option to get a New Zealand work visa without a job offer? Let’s see.

Working Holiday Visa

Working Holiday Visa is perfect for someone who wants to work in New Zealand on the side, while enjoying a pleasant holiday in the country. You may be able to stay in the country for 12-24 months depending on which country you come from. However, this visa is not for everyone. You must be less than 30 years old (35 for some countries) and New Zealand must have a working holiday arrangement with your country.
This could be great if you fit the criteria, as this is a much faster way of entering New Zealand and exploring the country while you can work on the side (and may be able to meet a few New Zealand employers personally, who may then agree to offer you a job offer you can use to file for a different NZ work visa).
However, if you do not meet the age and country of origin criteria, or don’t have the needed money, you are out of luck.

Are there other options to work in New Zealand without a work visa?

Don’t lose heart if you did not find an appropriate work visa category that allows you to apply without having a New Zealand job offer first. You can always explore other options, such as one of the partnership based visas, if your spouse is in a position to help you get one.
Also, nothing is stopping you from being self-employed in the country by getting one of the Entrepreneur Visas, that will allow you to work in your own business. You may also get one of the Investor Visas if you have the required capital – this visa will allow you to work in any position and for any employer. A Global Impact Visa (GIV) would be perfect if you can manage to get into the Edmund Hillary Fellowship (EHF).
As you can see, though most work visas offered by the INZ require you to have a job offer before making a visa application, you do have other alternatives. However, each of these visa options come with its own requirements and conditions – which may be confusing, and you may want to get expert immigration advice to avoid making mistakes, that will most likely lead to visa rejection or delay. The highly qualified and experienced NZ Migration Help immigration experts have been serving their clients with NZ work visas for many years. Book a free consultation and explore your options to get a New Zealand work visa without a job offer.