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Work Visas in Australia Vs New Zealand

March 5, 2024
Myer Lipschitz

I recently received a call from a Human Resource Manager of a large Australian company who is familiar with the process of sponsoring foreign workers for work visas in Australia (more appropriately referred to as Temporary Skill Shortage Visas or 482 visas) but was thinking of bringing fitters to their New Zealand company and was unfamiliar with the process.

After explaining key differences between the two visa programs I thought it might be of general interest to our readers, hence this blog.

New Zealand largely copied the Australian system when they introduced the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) in 2021, however there are key differences between the two processes and pathways to securing permanent residence and other related topics:

1. Employment Offer Requirements for Skilled Migrants: Australia vs. New Zealand

All skilled migrants to New Zealand need offers of employment whereas in Australia only those skilled migrants seeking to apply for 482 visas need offers of employment. Australia operates another pathway for General Skilled Migration Visas (points tested visas that don’t require offers of employment). Most employers in Australia prefer applicants to hold general skilled migration visas so that they don’t have to sponsor foreign workers.


2. Sponsorship and Employment Agreements

In Australia an employer “sponsors” foreign workers for 482 visas whereas in New Zealand there is no “sponsorship” involved, the employer enters into an employment agreement with the migrant. In Australia sponsorship is onerous and expensive involving (amongst other things) undertaking to repatriate the migrant and spouse and dependent children at the expiration of the 482 visa, as well as payment of up to AU$7,200 to an industry training fund.

3. Healthcare Benefits for Work Visa Holders

In New Zealand AEWV holders are eligible for state funded healthcare if the visa is of two or more years duration. In Australia 482 visa holders have to maintain private medical insurance.

4. Minimum Salary Standards for Work Visa Holders in Australia and New Zealand

In Australia 482 visa holders have to be paid a minimum salary of AU$70,000 +11% superannuation (this is a compulsory payment made by the employer to an employee’s superannuation fund). In New Zealand accredited employer work visa holders need to be paid the median wage unless a sector agreement applies (there are sector agreement is for carers and certain transport workers most notably). In both countries migrants must be paid the market related salary which is often higher than the salaries mentioned above.

5. Education Subsidies for Children of Work Visa Holders

Accredited employer work visa holders in New Zealand enjoy government subsidised education for their children if they attend government primary and high schools. In Australia most states provide similar education opportunities but some states will charge an extra fee if a child holds a 482 visa.

6. Pathways to Permanent Residence for Work Visa Holders

In Australia holders of 482 visas have a pathway to securing permanent residence if they work for a particular employer for a period of two years on a 482 visa and the employer decides to nominate them for permanent residence. In New Zealand, there is a six-point pathway to securing residence and the number of years of work experience necessary very much depends upon qualifications, professional registration, salary earned et cetera; but just working for an employer for a period of two years doesn’t in itself qualify one for residence.

7. Occupation Lists for Work Visas: Australia’s Approach vs. New Zealand’s Flexibility

Australia has a list of occupations that are suitable for 482 work visas whereas New Zealand doesn’t have any prescribed list, the entitlement to an accredited employer work visa often depends on the skill level of the occupations and salary paid.

8. Skills Assessments and Professional Registration for Work Visas

Some trades in Australia require skills assessments before an applicant can apply for a 482 visa whereas New Zealand doesn’t operate a system of skills assessments, but those occupations requiring professional registration require this before the applicant can apply for a work visa. As such processing time of Australian 482 visas is often months longer than the New Zealand system although given the three-stage process to secure a work visa, three months will be the average time following job offer to secure the work visa and be able to take up the job.

9. English Language Proficiency Requirements

English language proficiency is required for an Australian 482 visa but not for a New Zealand accredited employer work visa.

10. Employer Eligibility to Hire Foreign Workers

Not just any employer can employ foreign workers in both countries. In Australia employers need to be Standard Business Sponsors and in New Zealand they need to be Accredited Employers.

11. Job Advertising Requirements for Work Visas

Both countries require a position of employment to be advertised but the duration of the advertising differs between both countries. Australia requires the position to be advertised for a period of 28 days whereas New Zealand only requires 14 days of advertising. New Zealand is considering reverting to job checks for less skilled jobs through Work and Income New Zealand to confirm that there are no suitably qualified New Zealanders available whereas this isn’t required in Australia. For the post Covid period the process of acquiring accreditation was expedited by INZ with a minimum amount of checks and balances that would normally have applied but there is been a distinct tightening of controls and regulation in this regard by INZ.

12. Work Visa Duration and Renewal Policies

Work visas are issued for a maximum duration of three to five years in New Zealand. Three years for less skilled jobs and five for highly skilled. If during that timeframe the migrant worker hasn’t secured residence they have to leave New Zealand for a year before applying for another accredited employer work visa. In Australia 482 visas have a pathway to securing permanent residence after two years of work and it’s often not necessary to renew 482 visas.

13. Work Experience Requirements for Work Visa Applicants

Australia requires 482 visa applicants to have at least two years of work experience after they are considered skilled whereas New Zealand doesn’t have a minimum number of years of work experience. To give you an example someone with a marketing degree would require two years of work experience as a marketing specialist in their home country before they could apply for a 482 visa in Australia, whereas someone with a marketing degree could apply for a New Zealand work visa without any prior work experience. Of course postgraduate work experience would be a factor in determining employability but some healthcare occupations and teachers wouldn’t necessarily face these problems because of the severe shortage in New Zealand.

14. Age Limits for Skilled Migrant Work Visas

Both 482 visas and the AEWV don’t have age restrictions because they are just temporary visas, but the age limits for residence visas for skilled migrants to Australia and New Zealand differ quite markedly. The usual cut-off age for Australia is 45 whereas for New Zealand it’s 56.

It’s a popular misconception on the part of most migrants that “all I need is an offer of employment” in order to obtain permanent residence in Australia or residence of New Zealand, but as can be seen from the information above its complicated and whilst there might be superficial similarities between the work visa process of Australia and New Zealand there are a number of profound differences.



Myer Lipschitz

Myer Lipschitz was born in Johannesburg and is a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1985 he was conferred the degree Bachelor of Laws. Myer completed his Articles of Clerkship with Ivor Trackman, Attorneys and was admitted as an Attorney to the Supreme Court of South Africa in 1988. Myer immigrated to New Zealand in 1989 and was admitted to practice law in New Zealand as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand...

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  1. Hi, I’m Junaed.
    I would like to know if I am working in New Zealand and holding an accredited work visa as Roofer for 1.5 years. I’m thinking about moving to Australia for a job. Is it possible? Thanks

  2. Can a person on a 491 visa work fifo jobs from one state to the other in Australia or strictly restricted to your nominating state? Will it also affect chances of getting a PR?

    1. Post

      Thanks for the question.

      You do sign an undertaking with the state that nominates you to spend two years in that state but the 49 one visa allows you to live and work anywhere in Australia as long as it’s regional. My suggestion would be to contact the state that nominated you and explain your position to them.