Variations of Work Visa Conditions – Watch Your Step

In April Immigration made a small, quiet change to its policy which could be a headache for a lot of people.

Essential Skills Work Visas are the most comoon type of visa based on a job offer.  It used to be fairly straightforward to apply for a Variation of Conditions if you changed employers in the same town (still doing the same job) or got promoted in your present job.  Now, however, you must make a whole new application for Work Visa from scratch.  This means that Immigration can reassess everything – your health, character, whether there are New Zealand workers available for the job . . . everything.

One particularly insidious result of this is that if you had worked for someone in the past without having the right work conditions on your visa, this can all be brought up every time you switch jobs as a “breach of visa conditions”.  Then you have to justify yourself to Immigration all over again as to why it happened.  And this sort of thing happened a lot because people often didn’t realise that they needed to tell Immigration every time something changed about their employment situation.  After all, if I’m working as a welder and get a better offer down the street or out of town, what’s the problem?  As we discovered over the last year, it was really quite a big problem.  We had to rescue a couple of clients from being deported.

To check if you need to apply for a new Work Visa, the test is simple.  Read the Work Visa stamp on your passport.  If the name of the job, the employer or the town where you work does not match what you’re doing now, then put in an application to sort it out.  If you don’t, it could wreck your chances of getting future visas, or even applying for Residence down the track.

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About Simon Laurent, Lawyer

Principal of LaurentLaw Barristers & Solicitors. NZ immigration law specialist.
This entry was posted in Immigration Problems, Immigration Visas and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Variations of Work Visa Conditions – Watch Your Step

  1. renata says:

    Hi Iam just wandering if my husband went back to Samoa willingly without deportation but he was unlawful for 10years how difficult will it be for me to get a partnership visa for him to reenter new Zealand

    Like

    • It may be possible, but it will depend on whether you have extremely good and extensive evidence for the whole time that you have lived together, and a good explanation why he has overstayed for so long. Without those he will not get back at all, ever.

      Like

  2. dar says:

    Hi I apply under essential skill work visa, i got work visa but now i want to change company who is down in Hamilton.
    1. Which visa i need to apply for? New work visa or Variation of condition?
    2. During visa process can i go back to my home country and come back?

    Like

    • You probably need to apply for a new Essential Skills Work Visa because you are changing your work location. Whether you can leave NZ during the process depends on when your current visa expires. If it expires while you are still overseas then you must wait until the new Work Visa application is approved before you come back.

      Like

  3. Lu says:

    If you apply for a new work visa due to changing employers, and for whatever reason, the visa is declined – what happens to your existing visa. Obviously if you can’t get a new visa, you would like to stay with the employer where you are currently working. Just worried that the visa gets cancelled and you have to leave NZ

    Like

    • Your existing visa does not get cancelled just because you applied for a new one. If you continue to working for your previous employer, then nothing has changed and you can continue to work for them until that visa runs out.

      Like

  4. vilis patel says:

    I am working for Auckland base company. I got 3 years essential work visa on last march 2017 to work only for Auckland. Now my employer will start new office in Hawke’s bay within one month and he want to me work in Hawke’s bay office.
    So
    1. Am I need to apply essential work visa with new advertisement with position or can I apply without any advertisement for position?

    Like

  5. Pasindu says:

    Hi Simon,

    I’m a web developer and holds a essential work visa till 2019 JULY. I got a new offer for a project from a new company for a 1 year contract that I’m keen to work on. What will happen if I apply a change of conditions for this new job and take it over? will immigration cut down the visa period as well or will it just change the company name only?

    Like

    • If your new job is identical to the old one, and the company is in the same town, then you only need a Variation of Conditions and the duration of your Work Visa is unaffected. However, if either the job or the town change, then you must apply for a new Work Visa. The duration of the new job will depend on the salary that you will be paid in the new job, after changes to Work Visa Instructions at the end of August. For more detailed advice you should contact us or another professional adviser for a direct consultation.

      Like

  6. Altaf Vora says:

    I got 3 years essential work visa and I am working in Auckland can change my employer if I want to change a job with same field and same post what is the process to inform to immigration.
    Thanks

    Like

  7. Maribelle Hanopol says:

    Hi Simon,
    If i got a new offer with same location and place do i need to resign first in my previous employer for me to apply my work visa conditions? And if it will decline what will happen to my visa and my partner visa as well? Thank you

    Like

  8. Joshua says:

    Hi Simon,

    If I have essential work visa and I got promoted to a different position with the same company and same location.

    1. should I apply for a variation?
    2. should I apply for a new work visa?
    3. is it enough proof that I was under training while for 3 years for the new position.

    Like

    • You must apply for a new Work Visa. A Variation of Conditions is not sufficient. The employer must advertise and show that they could not find local people to fill the position. It is largely irrelevant that you have been trained up to the position, although if the employer can show that it takes 3 years to train someone, that could argue in favour of saying that they can’t find local people for the job.

      Like

  9. sharmashefali says:

    Hi Simon,

    I’m an IT Technician (21.50) and holds an essential work visa until 2017 JULY. I got a new offer for the permanent full time under same designation IT Technician ( $17). What will happen if I apply a change of conditions for this new job and take it over? will immigration cut down the visa period as well or will it just change the company name only? And what else if am getting less pay rate then the previous job.Please suggest me.
    Shefali.

    Like

    • Marinda du Toit - Practice Manager says:

      If you apply for a new Work Visa entirely, and it is approved, you will get a 1-year visa from the date of approval. If you apply for a Variation of Conditions of your current visa, then this will be granted only up to the expiry of the current visa in July 2018.

      There is a real risk that either application will be declined, as the new pay rate is very low for this type of job.

      Like

  10. Bern says:

    Hi Simon,
    I’m dairy farm worker applying for work to residence visa under south island contribution. I have a problem on how to explain why I worked for 2 months while waiting for the variation of my visa condition last 2013.it never occured to me that its gonna be a problem until today. I’m worried that if my reasoning is not good enough will affect my application. What reason is good enough to have a chance with my application? Thanks

    Like

    • Marinda du Toit - Practice Manager says:

      Without any surrounding information, it is impossible to say what reason you should give for this. You could say that you received no professional advice about how to handle that situation, but you are expected to know that you should not have switched jobs before getting the VoC approved.

      Like

  11. Shekhar says:

    Hi Simon,
    I holds an essential work visa until 2019 JULY as Restaurant Manager (in Johnsonville Wellington) but unfortunately the business closed and I lost the job in last September . Now I got a new offer for the permanent full time under same designation but different location which is “Paraparaumu Wellington”. The job is in different town but in same Wellington region.
    Should I need to apply for new visa or VOC?
    IT took to long to find new job. Does this effect my application? please suggest what should I do.

    Like

    • You could try a VoC but it is possible that Immigration will insist that you should do a new Work Visa application. The long delay in getting a new job could create significant problems for you because you did not tell Immigration that you had stopped working, which led to you breaching the conditions of your Work Visa. You should consider getting professional help with your situation now.

      Like

  12. Jesse says:

    Hi Simon, My partner has recently gone back to Mexico to see her family for 5 weeks, she was granted a temporary visa as they would not be able to renew her work visa in time before she had left. However while away she has been notified about the “change of position” at her work that was not detailed on her new application as she was not aware of having to make a variation or even notify of this change. any information about this on how to get sorted would be great.

    Like

    • My guess is that she now needs to file a new Work Visa application entirely. However, we can only give specific advice about this if you or she contacts us for a formal consultation in order to gather all the details.

      Like

  13. Khush says:

    Hi Simon,
    I am working in a same company from 3 years,
    2 Years work visa , than 1 year essential Skills Visa. Which i got in August 2017.
    And I got promoted in 1 November in same company same location same employer.
    But i was not sure that i have to apply for VOC.
    Now I Applied for a new visa on Promoted Position by myself on 1 July. With all WINZ report and advertisements.
    But got email from immigration officer that I Breach the Visa conditions because I am working on new position without informing Immigration.

    But worried a lot that whats gonna happen.
    What you say about this.

    Please advice .

    Like

  14. Carla Hruszczak says:

    Hello Simon, thanks for your kind help.
    When changing employers on a Essential Skills and applying for a VOC; does the new employer still need to advertise and justify that there are no kiwis available?
    If this VOC is declined I understand that your current Work Visa is not affected in any way, is that correct?
    Thanks again 🙂

    Like

  15. Manish says:

    Hii now I am study at napier in graduate diploma in professionals accounting( level). I got visa on 6th aug .As per immigaration law i got 3 year post study work visa ang wear in new Zealand but I want to change my campus to Auckland with different course for that I need to apply for VOC. so if I change my campus in Auckland then will i get a 3 year post study work visa or not?

    Like

    • On the basis that you currently hold a Student Visa, it appears that you will get a 3-year Post-Study Work Visa after you graduate. However, any further enquiries will require a formal consultation, and no other questions will be answered on social media.

      Like

  16. Rakshith says:

    Hi Simon ,

    I have a post-study employer-assisted work visa with a company in Auckland as an Assitant production manager. I have now received a new job offer as a production manager from a different company in Hawkeys Bay. Should I apply for a VOC or a new visa? My Visa expires on the 15th of April 2019.

    Like

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