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.


About Simon Laurent, Lawyer

Principal of LaurentLaw Barristers & Solicitors. NZ immigration law specialist.
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4 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


    • 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.


  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?


    • 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.


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