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Immigration advice Visas Accredited Employer Work Visa The Green List Supporting your international employee Additional resources

Employing staff from overseas on your dairy farm involves complying with New Zealand's latest immigration rules and regulations. It is important that any international employee working on your farm has a current visa. It’s also important that you, as an employer, understand all visa types, extensions, regulations and checks.

Immigration advice

Immigration advice can only be given by licensed immigration advisers, lawyers, MPs and their staff. We suggest engaging a licensed immigration advisor.

Sign up for updates on important immigration information on the New Zealand immigration website.


All international employees require a current visa when working on your farm.

We recommend starting the visa application process as soon as you can, as it can take some time. Ensure that applications include all the necessary information to avoid delays. Some dairy farmers use a licensed immigration adviser to assist with the visa application process. Whilst not essential, it can help depending on your time, knowledge, and budget.

Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)

The AEWV is the primary pathway for employing international employees on New Zealand dairy farms. It replaced the Essential Skills Visa Pathway. The AEWV process is outlined below:

  1. Apply for Employer Accreditation

    You must be accredited to hire an international employee on a work visa or to renew their visa if they already work for you. To become accredited visit the New Zealand Immigration  website.

  2. Advertise the role

    You are required to advertise the role on Farm Source Jobs or a national job listing website for a minimum of 3 weeks to check there are no New Zealand citizens or residents available for the job. Advertising must take place within 90 days before submitting a job check application as seen in step 3 below.

    The job advertisement must have the same details as the employment agreement you send to Immigration NZ for the job check.

    Job adverts must include:
    • Number of hours and roster to be worked.
    • Remuneration being offered (e.g. a salary or hourly rate). Check the Immigration New Zealand website for wage rate requirements for visas.
    • Cost of rent if applicable and for what type of accommodation.
    • The role being offered including job title, tasks and responsibilities.
    • The skills and experience required.

      You are not required to do this if the role is on the Green list. For more information on the green list, see below.

  3. Job Check

    Before you can offer an international candidate a role, you must apply for a job check through Immigration New Zealand (INZ). This is to ensure you have tried to employ within the New Zealand market first. For dairy farm assistant roles you must also engage with Work and Income before making your job check application. Once approval has been gained from INZ you will receive a job token which lasts for six months. Find out more about applying for a job check on the INZ website.

  4. You can now recruit and offer your role to an international candidate

    Check that the international applicant is suitably qualified and skilled for the job you have advertised. Find out more about how to check your applicant is suitably qualified on the INZ website. You also need to ensure they can speak and understand English.

  5. International candidate can apply for their visa

    The international candidate will need to submit a complete employment agreement with their visa application. This employment agreement must be the same as the proposed employment agreement submitted by the employer for the job check (i.e., the hours of work, remuneration and other details fall within the ranges offered) but with the employee details filled in. Find out more about the requirements for the Accredited Employer Work Visa on the INZ website.

    All international employees will need to provide evidence they have the required skills and experience for the role. People applying for a dairy farm assistant role will also need to show they can speak and understand English by providing test evidence. Find out more about the English language requirements on the INZ website.

When working through the AEWV process it is important that every step is completed and all required documentation provided the first time to prevent delays. Because of the time and skill required many farmers choose to use a licensed immigration advisor however that is not a requirement. A guide to assist primary sector employers navigate the AEWV pathway has been produced by officials in MBIE and INZ. It is not immigration advice, and it does not guarantee a positive outcome/approval. You can view the AEWV guide for primary sector employers here.

The Green List and pathways to residency

The Green List simplifies the process for employers to hire skilled international people in specific, hard-to-fill occupations and provides eligible individuals with guaranteed residence options. On-farm herd manager positions and roles more senior than this are on the Green List. For dairy roles, the main requirement for applications is experience.

International employees working in a herd manager or above role have a pathway to residency available to them after working on a farm in New Zealand for three years. Residency pathways are limited to international employees 55 years or younger. Find out more about Green List roles on the INZ website.

Supporting your international employee

It takes a significant amount of effort involved in employing and international candidate. Immigration New Zealand has excellent resources for supporting your new international employee to get settled in New Zealand and their new job, as well as thrive.

Keep Immigration NZ informed

It is critical that you always provide accurate information to Immigration NZ otherwise you risk losing your accreditation. Find out more on meeting your AEWV accredited employer obligations on the INZ website.

Last updated: Feb 2024

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