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If you hold a work visa that has conditions that only allow you to work for Company A (employer), in Location B (place of employment) and as Job C (occupation), then you may in certain instances have to vary the conditions of your work visa. Here are a few helpful pointers that you can consider before determining whether to seek a variation or apply for a new work visa.

Length of your visa

If you have 6 months or less left on your visa, you should submit a new work visa application.

According to the INZ website, current processing times for Variation of Conditions (“VOC”) application can vary from 32 to 56 calendar days and work visa applications can vary from 27 to 80 calendar days. This means, even if your VOC application is successful and your visa conditions are varied, before you know it, you will end up having to file a new work visa application to continue your employment. Hence filing a VOC application would be pointless.

Types of work visas and requirements

If you have more than 6 months left on your work visa, then you can consider applying for a VOC. You must however understand that different rules apply to different types of work visas so it may be best to check the requirements first to determine whether you can get a VOC.

  • Essential Skills Work Visa

    • If you wish to change your occupation or place of employment, your new occupation must be listed on the Essential Skills in Demand List (“List”) and you must meet the requirements for that occupation specified on that List.
    • If you wish to change your employer only, your new job with the new employer must meet the requirements that apply to the Essential Skills Work Visa category.
    • But, a VOC may not be granted if you seek to change employment to a skill-band lower than your current employment (e.g. from high-skilled to mid-skilled)
  • Post-Study Work Visa – Employer Assisted

    • Two different rules apply due to the recent changes to the post-study work visa category:
      • Pre-26 November 2018: a VOC may be granted if your new job meets the requirements of a Post-Study Work Visa – Employer Assisted policy
      • Post-26 November 2018: You can submit a VOC application and pay an application fee to INZ to get your visa conditions removed.
  • Specific Purpose or Event Visa (for players and sports coaches only)

    • If you wish to take up additional employment, a VOC may only be granted if:
      • the terms of the existing employment have and will continue to be met; and
      • either the additional employment is offered:
        • by a sports club or a company involved in the sport and the position is offered solely to you as the player or coach; or alternatively
        • by an employer other than the sports club or a company involved in the sport and INZ is satisfied that there are no New Zealanders available to be employed in the position.
  • Talent (Accredited Employers) Work Visa

    • VOC may be granted if you wish to:
      • take up another job offer to work for another accredited employer; or
      • take up another job offer to work for a non-accredited employer if your current employment with the accredited employer is no longer available due to reasons beyond your control (INZ will consider the circumstances which led to this situation)

Additionally, you must have been offered the base salary that was required at the time the initial Talent Work Visa was made, or above; and the new job offer and the new employer must meet the requirements that apply to Talent Work Visas.

If you ultimately discover that you cannot get your work visa conditions varied, you must apply for a new work visa before starting work in a new role.

We are often asked to help people who have started a new job which does not match the conditions printed on their present visa.  They run the real risk of being refused a new visa because they have breached the conditions of the visa that they currently have.  They also expose the employer to potential prosecution for letting someone work for them who does not have the right visa.

These can be delicate situations.  If you, or someone you know, might face this sort of problem, they should consider getting professional help to sort it out – and do so quickly.