Hiring Migrant Employees 

Are you hiring employees who have visa conditions?

Employment of migrant workers is high in the retail sector. It is your responsibility to ensure your employees have the legal right to work in New Zealand and keep up to date with changes to immigration regulations. There are penalties for hiring someone who does not have right to work here.  

Checking visa conditions before offering employment 

Before you hire someone, you need to check their eligibility to work in New Zealand. It is good practice to include this in your recruitment process. You can check an employee’s visa by: 

When you check an employee’s visa status, it is good practice to keep a copy for your records. 

Common visas in the retail sector include, but are not limited to: 

If you cannot find suitable New Zealanders for a role you are advertising, you can apply to hire migrants on the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). First your business must be accredited — see more information on this process.

Please note: there have been changes to this visa, announced 7 April 2024. Read about the changes.

This visa enables people from selected countries to work and travel in New Zealand for a defined period.  

Please note that employees cannot accept a permanent job offer while on this visa type. Employment conditions vary between different countries, so ensure you check the employment conditions (use VisaView or check the visa documents) before offering employment. 

Employment rights 

Migrants have the same minimum employment rights as all other employees under New Zealand law. Minimum rights include: 

  • Written employment agreement 
  • Minimum pay 
  • Break entitlements 
  • Annual and public holidays 
  • Sick, parental and bereavement leave 
  • A safe workplace 
  • Accurate pay and holiday records. 

There are penalties if you do not offer the minimum employment rights to migrants. 

From April 2024, employers who are found to be employing people in breach of their visa conditions, employing people unlawfully in New Zealand, or failing to comply with a 10-day information request can be issued an infringement notice. 

Infringement penalties can include:

  • a minimum fine of $1,000  
  • loss of accredited employer or Recognised Seasonal Employer status 
  • being banned from supporting further visas for migrant workers for a period of time, and 
  • having their name put on a public list of non-compliant employers (stand-down list). 

Note: It is important to note that you can support candidates to get a visa, but you must not provide them with immigration advice as part of the process unless you are a Licenced Immigration Adviser or exempt. 

If you have any questions, contact our Advice Service on 0800 472 472 (1800 128 086 from Australia) or email [email protected]

Our Supporters


Would you like one of our team to give you a call? Let us know and we will get back to you.