Tips for IT professionals intending to emigrate to New Zealand

by Pablo Matamoros - 28 April 2008

I’ve lived in New Zealand since 2004. Since I decided to leave my homeland, Argentina, I’ve been bombarded with all sort of questions: why New Zealand?, how is life here?, is it easy to adapt?, what is the cost of living?, ….and the list goes on. This article intends to answer some of those questions.

I will leave the economic, geographical, political and other characteristics for your own research. There is no need to write about the beauty of this country, there is plenty documented about it, in articles, books and films. If you are still curious you can start by looking at this site: www.newzealand.com. Alternatively you can leave a message on our forum: www.codespanish.com/forum

Before you continue, I want to make one point clear. The following lines might sound a bit harsh, especially if you are a Kiwi. It is not my intention. I love this country; I don’t regret choosing New Zealand as my adoptive home. But sometimes immigration agencies are a bit too positive. I’m trying to be more realistic.

Don’t believe in everything you read in the brochures

As happens in many other countries it isn’t easy to find a place in the professional world. So, my first advice is to be realistic. Ignore any document that promises a sort of “New American Dream” (well New Zealand dream in any case). You could find yourself coming back home with an unfair view of the country. Immigration consultants and governmental agencies are to a great extent responsible for it.

Although the unemployment rate is at an all time low – as I write this article it is one of the lowest in the developed world – it doesn’t mean that you will easily get a similar professional position to the one you have now. This is particularly difficult for those whose native language is not English. I will return to this point later.

Do your homework

Most countries in the world have requirements to allow visitors to work permanently and temporally. New Zealand is no exception. You are required to have a work permit or to be resident. Let’s take a brief look at some of the permits that the New Zealand immigration service concedes:


  • Visitor visa: purely for tourism. Working under this permit is illegal. Although there are illegal workers in New Zealand, it is not worth the risk, especially if you have an IT qualification. You can still come as visitor and apply for a work permit while you are in the country as long as you are not actually working. We will discuss this situation later.
  • Working holiday visa: this is granted to people from certain countries aged between 18 and 30 to come to New Zealand to travel and undertake temporary work. The duration and conditions of this visa vary with the nationality of the applicant. It is normally granted to a limited number of people per country. Hispanic countries that are granted this visa are: Argentina, Chile and Mexico.
  • Visas for seasonal work in horticulture and viniculture: you can apply for this visa once in New Zealand. It allows working in tasks such as pruning and fruit picking for a maximum period of six weeks. You are not allowed to extend this permit. Holders of this permit are only allowed to work in specific regions of the country in the activities mentioned above.
  • Student permits: you are allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours a week. To be granted this permit you need to be a fulltime student of a New Zealand institution. Since fees are not cheap for international students, in order to pay your fees and your expenses you are likely to need more than 20 hours of work.
  • Work Permit: this is the type of visa that is needed to work in general. It allows working fulltime for a limited period of time. There are several categories, requirements and limitations They are always changing. However, as IT professionals we are only interested in the Immediate Skill Shortage List category. IT is in high demand and almost all the streams of IT skills are included in the Shortage List. Nevertheless, you need to have an employment offer from a valid employer (here lies one of the biggest problems of this system). Also, if you quit your job, you have to leave the country, unless you have another legitimate job offer.
  • Residence – Skilled Migrant Category: the main difference from the Work permit is that is not tied to a particular employer. Not only does it give freedom of choice, it also opens doors to the same possibilities that citizens have: bank credits, student fees at local rates (under any of the other schemes students pay international fees), student loans, business credits, mortgages, etc.
    This permit is granted through a pool system in which an applicant fills a form called expression of interest (EOI). The applicant claims a score according with age, English level, skill set, etc. This score is used in the pool. If the applicant claimed 100 points or more, the EOI goes into the Pool. Every fortnight, all EOIs over 140 points are automatically selected for an invitation to apply for residence. After this, lower scoring EOIs with certain factors, such as skilled employment in New Zealand, are selected. Therefore the time it takes to be invited to apply varies considerably from case to case.
  • Other permits: there are many other ways to stay in New Zealand to work. For more details visit www.immigration.govt.nz

As you can see, it isn’t easy. I recommend reading the New Zealand immigration service website carefully before making a decision. If I had done that before coming to the country I could have saved lots of money and time. I took my chances and came under a Working Holiday Scheme. Things were neither easy nor cheap for me.

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257 Comments on “Tips for IT professionals intending to emigrate to New Zealand”

  1. Marcela Says:

    Hola Pablo,
    soy ingeniera en informática egresada de argentina, con muchos años de experiencia en programación de aplicaciones y web (más de 10 – 6 en empresas y 5 de manera independiente), quiero postularme para la Visa de residencia Skilled para NZ. Quería saber si sabés si la gente de inmigración llama a la gente que se pone de referente o a los empleadores antiguos o actuales, porque no sé si se acuerdan de mí x los años que pasaron, y otros solo hablan en español, y si podías contactarme con gente de NZ que busque programadores.
    Muchas gracias! genial el blog y tu trabajo y dedicación!

  2. Pablo Matamoros Says:

    En general, cuando te presentas para un puesto laboral solo se acostumbra a poner en tu CV 2 a 3 referencias a las que se pueda llamar. Calculo que para migraciones sería lo mismo, no me acuerdo como es el formulario, pero estoy seguro que había una sección para ello.

    El sistema de migraciones no es muy consistente, depende mucho de la persona a la que le toque tu caso. En mi caso no llamaron a nadie en Argentina ni en NZ, confiaron en mi CV y cartas de recomendación (todas en inglés) que les dí.

    Te recomendaría que hicieses eso, conseguir cartas de recomendación (en inglés) y dar 2 a 3 referencias con las que puedan hablar.

  3. Marcela Says:

    Muchas gracias por la info y los tips. En el formulario piden todos los datos de cada trabajo que se presente como referencia, por eso mi duda. Voy a presentar toda la documentacion que tenga avalando los trabajos y un par de cartas de recomendación. Sabes si toman emails (en formato papel y/o digitalizados en pendrive) como documentacion valida? he hecho muchos trabajos informales con los que solo cuento con esas pruebas.
    gracias y saludos

  4. Mary Romero Says:

    Hola Pablo. Que bueno volver a leer tus comentarios… Soy de Venezuela. Amigo, conoces a código Level? http://www.codigolevel.com/

    Me lo han recomendado para el proceso migratorio en Nueva Zelanda. Pero lo que no me cuadra es que cobran para poder decirte si calificas o no y con el difícil acceso a las divisas que tenemos nosotros es bastante lo que cobran por lo que no podemos darnos el lujo de pagar algo así para que después nos diga que debemos estudiar mas ingles o que tenemos que buscar otro destino. Jajajaja. No se si me explique bien, espero me hayas entendido.

  5. Pablo Matamoros Says:

    Como te dije, depende de a quien le toque tu caso. Pero te diría que conseguías dos o tres referencias con cartas que se vean oficiales (un correo electrónico no da esa imagen). En esto, hay que dar una imagen lo más oficial y prolijo posible. Cuanto más fácil se lo haces a los de migraciones, menos problemas para ti. Igual, este nivel de detalles se lo tienes que preguntar directamente a ellos.

  6. Pablo Matamoros Says:

    No los conozco. Hay muchísimas de estas agencias y consultores. No se lo que cobran, pero en general se paga la conveniencia y el conocimiento. Mi primer visa la conseguí con ayuda de un agente, de allí en más hice todos los trámites yo. El tiempo es dinero, nadie va a leer toda tu documentación gratis.

  7. Joaquín Says:

    Hola Marcela, yo también soy argentino e Ingeniero informático (Sistemas de información), trabajo hace 4 años especializado en programación java, he obtenido la visa WHS, y estaré viajando en unos meses. Mi idea es trabajar de mi profesión en NZ, mi nivel de inglés es intermedio, hace un año que vengo estudiando para mejorarlo y rindo el IELTS en diciembre como para tener un mejor respaldo. Si has tenido novedades acerca del empleo en nuestro rubro allá en NZ sería genial si lo podemos compartir e ir conociendo gente que esté o estuvo en la misma situación que nosotros. Mi mail es lg.joaquin@gmail.com
    Saludos!

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