International Recruitment in New Zealand

This document is designed to help employers who wish to recruit skilled migrants to New Zealand.

Employers who wish to undergo the process of recruiting migrants without the guidance of an experienced professional need to check that they have all of the information required for the process before commencing recruitment.

Failing to prepare for the international recruitment process, and not being aware of any changes that may have come into play whilst your application was underway will inevitably result in extended delays.

Recruitment from overseas is area best served by experienced professionals who work in an ethical manner and RecruitNZ is a leader in this field.

Filipino Overseas Employment Agencies work closely with our International Recruitment team and we are guided by the expertise of VisaAide – our inhouse licensed immigration advisers.

Why Recruit From the Philippines

Recruiting from the Philippines is a fantastic way for New Zealand employers to get the skills that they require to complete projects on time – with the pressure in the Construction Industry being as it presently is, cost blowouts due to project delays must be avoided whenever possible – labour availability being one of the most common causes for delay.

Recruiting skilled workers from overseas has been an option for New Zealand employers for years, but in more recent times has become a very popular trend, evolving as a mini industry requiring specialist recruitment skills and experience.

This is why RecruitNZ established a specialist International Division several years ago – including specialist recruiters & administrators to manage as seamless a process as possible for employers through a complex set of requirements.


It is cost effective to outsource overseas recruitment

In our experience, if an employer is spending more than 1.5 days per average month on recruitment of skilled workers, or on recruitment in general for construction projects, it will be cost effective to outsource this function to a specialist international recruitment consultant.

Employers are kept fully informed and in control of every step, but your time will be completely freed up & the recruitment process will avoid delays due to process or compliance errors.

The administration steps for international recruitment are continually evolving. Every oversight or omission causes a potentially lengthy delay. Our international recruiters are across all process changes as they happen due the the close relationship we have with all advisors.

In the case of working with RecruitNZ, you will also be able to access expert advice from our in-house licensed immigration consultants VisaAide, who consult to our clients on all aspects of migration and visas to both New Zealand and Australia. Only licensed immigration


International Recruitment has a different process.

 When RecruitNZ first established migrant recruitment as a service, we realised quickly that we required a slightly different approach than with national recruitment. While the steps are exactly the same, there are many more steps and requirements in the case of migrant recruitment – two governments are introducing process changes and evolutions continually, making it a complex for those not fully immersed in it.

Human lives are affected and families are impacted to a far greater degree than standard recruitment.
The transition for workers from the Philippines, where we source our skilled migrants, is huge.

We take steps as part of our own process – outside of the minimum requirements – to minimise culture shock on arrival, and to make sure the workers feel at home and welcome.
Regardless of the many official requirements (which will be discussed in this document), it was important to us to take into consideration that these workers are being separated from their families for an extended period.

Pastoral Care for Skilled Migrants is Core to Our Own Culture

As we specialise in recruitment, the well-being of all employees and employers is foremost in our minds and hearts.

One of the first things we discovered in the international recruitment arena was that many consultants were operating in an unethical manner.

Over the ensuing year, business owners were called into the spotlight to comment on specific examples of unethical conduct.

Some employers were banned from future employment of migrants because of the way they had treated them.

Shocking revelations hit the news through mid 2018 & into 2019, when a large number of migrants were deported, and the government stepped in to make changes (that have recently started to roll out in late 2019).


Read more about pastoral care for overseas workers…

Cultural Differences.

People from the Philippines generally settle into New Zealand really well. Filipinos make great employees.
They are generally reliable and almost always show up every day with a happy attitude, ready to work – which can come as a nice surprise for some employers!
Regulations in place are there to ensure that migrant employees are not taking advantage of. Once the workers have arrived and are settled in, as long as you work within New Zealand employment law requirements, you will be fine.

Once overseas workers are in NZ with a NZ Working Visa, they are under NZ Employment Law.
They must however be paid for a minimum of 30 hours per week for the duration of their employment agreement and visa. Employers may not stand migrants down if their workload is light.
Employing skilled workers from overseas enables employers and project owners to have projects continued without interruption, meeting important deadlines and saving in project cost caused by delays.

Background to Migrant Recruitment in New Zealand.

When migrant recruitment first became available to employers, applying for working visas was all that was required. While that may seem straightforward, the process was arduous and the rules were changing constantly.

As the industry of employing migrants has matured, some employers with Immigration Accreditation had the option of offering Work to Residence visas.
It became quickly clear that migrants preferred this visa.

Migrating permanently is highly desirable for skilled workers from the Philippines, and New Zealand is one of the most highly sought destinations.

As more and more migrants started to come into New Zealand on working visas, the conditions for visa approval, the process & the rules have quickly evolved.

Employers soon saw the opportunity to take a potential shortcut and began recruiting overseas employees already in New Zealand on working visas.

Some even offered much higher than average wages in order to lure skilled workers to their business.

Immigration New Zealand has now established visa approval rules to halt this. Employers are required now to pay within standard industry rates to prevent wage wars and cost spiralling.

Another significant change has been the introduction Employer Accreditation – which is to become mandatory for all employers of skilled workers from overseas in 2021.

Initially an optional thing, Employer Accreditation offered employers the window to Work to Residence visas.

As increasing numbers of employers become accredited and an increased number of applications were filed for Work to Residence visas, the rules changed again.

Immigration NZ Visa Changes October 2019

In October 2019, Immigration NZ announced that WTR visas would only be available for migrant workers in highly skilled roles with high levels of pay and that WTR would only be available to employers who were employing more than 4 migrants.

In this way the Work to Residence visa has become limited to employees with high skill levels working in slightly larger businesses.


Read more about the changes here

A simplified structure for working visas

Where the system had become very complicated in the two or three years prior to 2019, a more straightforward structure is now available from October 2019.
Visa duration is now determined by pay level, as determined by industry standards. . Workers will be either above median pay or below median pay.
This is a much cleaner and more transparent approach.

  • Workers whose pay standard is above median may apply for a 3 year working visa and may apply for an extension on the visa or a second visa without leaving the country.
  • Workers who are in jobs below median pay can apply for a 12-month visa and two further 12 month extensions before they will be required to leave the country for a minimum of 12 months.

Employer accreditation, while not yet mandatory at the time of writing, will become mandatory in 2021 – thus enabling another dimension of visa application to become more straightforward.
The process of accreditation ensures that correct, compliant HR processes are in place and remain in place (24 month reaccreditation will be required).

Read more…

Philippines Overseas Employment Agency Processes

Outside of and separate to the requirements of Immigration NZ, are the requirements of the Philippines Overseas Employment Agencies – who monitor the activity and whereabouts of all Filipinos working overseas.

The paperwork requirement to gain POEA approval is significant, and requirements change continually.
Internally, we have developed a ‘catch-all’ process, to ensure that we capture all information required or potentially required in the interest of avoiding delays.

While the initial information gathering may feel onerous, experience has taught us it is a valuable & worthwhile process.

Employment process for overseas recruitment

Once a position description and person specification have been designed using the same standard as we use for national recruitment, we would advertise your position and commence the ‘search’ step.

Unlike New Zealand based job ads, all positions advertised in the Philippines receive literally hundreds if not thousands of applications to select from.

Time required to sift through the applications is significant.

Following the initial application screening process, we would then conduct interviews online – each interview is recorded for future reference.

For every position, our team may potentially interview dozens of applicants, saving employers many hours!

This extensive interviewing has the side bonus of having many pre-screened applications available for other employers in each sector.

All pre-screened applications suitable for work in New Zealand are retained on file and presented on our website and ‘Top Picks’ Candidate E-Blasts for potential employers to interview.

Trade testing for skilled workers from overseas

The next step in the process is to seek a practical trade test assessment. While some employers prefer to travel to the Philippines to undergo this part of the process themselves, it is not really necessary to do so.

It is however very much recommended to pay an assessment fee for an official skills assessment to be sure that the trade test is conducted professionally.
While we do not wish to dwell upon this point, cutting corners and costs with non official channels during processes in the Philippines does leave one open to unethical practices, which will more than likely backfire in the future.

Our experience in this arena saves employers not only time but also lots of money.

Following Trade Skill Assessment is the employee medical, passport and police check. This is the one part of the process that the employee is required to fund if the employer chooses not to.
Employers are required to pay for every other step of the process including airfares and arrival costs. Not many workers in the Philippines have the funds available to travel to New Zealand and find accommodation before they are paid.

Arrival in New Zealand

Assuming your employee is successful in the visa application, once they arrive in New Zealand you will be required to meet them at the airport or have someone meet them on your behalf.
From there you will need to take them to their accommodation and settle them in. You are required to accommodate newly arrived migrants at your expense for at least the first 6 weeks of their employment.

Providing new arrivals with a meal, some groceries and a local area orientation is also a good idea. While in your care, your employees are your responsibility. You are not required to also feed them, but until they are able to purchase food themselves, this would be a good idea and is a small cost in the overall scheme of their employment with you and their value to your business.

Employers are also required to provide transportation to and from the workplace for migrants for the initial period of the employment.

Any form any form of transportation is acceptable, including bicycles or on foot, if it’s safe and close enough, but bear in mind that many Filipinos do not have a driver licence and obviously will not have a New Zealand driver licence on arrival. Most employers provide a vehicle to pick up and drop off to the workplace each day.

Filipino workers are happy to work to be co-accommodated in lodgings with other workers. This helps them settle in more quickly and bond as a team.

Site Safety and Induction Training

Once the workers have arrived, you will be required to undergo site safety and standard induction as you would for any new employee.

English Language Testing will have been conducted as part of the standard interviewing process, but please make sure that your managers or site managers understand that English is the second language for these workers. Most Filipino workers speak fluent conversational English.

Of course, you will be required to complete all standard HR compliance processes – including employee records, training and development plans, key performance indicators and 121 interviews.

Our ConsultingHQ team can help establish these processes if you do not already have them in place.
Establishing correct, compliant HR processes is one section of the ConsultingHQ Employer Accreditation process.

Hiring Temps from the Philippines

Some international recruitment agencies specialise in hiring temps.

Employers hire temporary workers from the agencies and pay above average rates for workers to be on site short term. This works for short term jobs and small employers, but to gain the advantage of work continuity and reduced site safety training (temp agencies can switch out workers), employers are advised to consider hiring permanent employees on a working visa who can develop a relationship with other workers in your team for a full visa period.

Overall the cost to you will be lower, even with recruitment fees taken into consideration.

Temp agencies charge far greater than your hiring costs will be over the work visa period, and you – the employer, have control over the quality of worker that you bring onto your site, and the opportunity to build a team with your site workers.

Read more about hiring temporary workers for construction jobs

What’s in the future for migrant recruitment?

New Zealand employers can expect an increasingly regulated environment in the area of international recruitment.

We see this is a positive. Employer recruitment processes will be required to be fully transparent and 100% ethical.

We also see with the introduction of mandatory employer accreditation in 2021 that the process could potentially become more efficient, with more and more accredited employers in the industry.

How to become a New Zealand Accredited Employer

Employer accreditation essentially is a full audit of your HR processes to ensure that employers employing migrant employees have correct and compliant HR processes.

Unfortunately this is become necessary in answer to some of the unethical processes that have been exposed in the New Zealand market.

RecruitNZ follows and has always followed a 100% ethical approach. It is very important to us that we work with employers who take this aspect seriously.

If you require help with the accreditation process – which is not onerous or expensive, but can be time consuming (and will be mandatory in 2021), our ConsultingHQ team has an accreditation process that we can work through with you.

This enables you to carry on running your business, while we take care of the paperwork and optimise the HR processes.

Find out more about accreditation…

Frequently Asked Questions on Overseas Recruitment

Question: How long will the process of recruiting fro overseas take?

Answer: Four to six months from the recruitment process initiation to off to your migrant landing in New Zealand. We have a very thorough process that is ethical and full of care.

Question: Why do Filipinos want to work in NZ?

Answer: NZ has a reputation amongst Filipinos for being friendly, respectful and kind. NZ is also seen as having beautiful landscapes and good working conditions. Working in NZ carries a lot of pride in the Philippines, it is seen as one of the top places in the world to work.

Question: How much will I have to pay a Filipino worker?

Answer: Immigration NZ has market rates that need to be adhered to. They ensure the worker is paid fairly in comparison to other workers in your business and not more than the market rate.

Question: What if I want my worker to be able to work in different locations?

Answer: If they are on an essential skills work visa, it will be tied to a location/region. If you want them to work in multiple regions, then we need to have advertising running to cover each place at the start of the process. If this isn’t done, you will need to pay for another visa once they arrive in NZ.

Question: Why do I need to pay for the flights?

Answer: This is part of the agreement between the two governments and is practised around the world. Most Filipinos do not have the funds to purchase flights to or from NZ.

Question: What are my responsibilities when landing a Filipino worker?

Answer:  You will be expected to greet them at the airport, ensure they have a method to get to work each day, help them finalise their NZ bank account and IRD number, complete their induction and check in with them as time goes by to ensure they are coping with the job and with being away from home. It can be a big adjustment coming to NZ, so the more you assist at the beginning the more quickly they will become productive.

Question: How long do we have to help with accommodation?

Answer: Between 2-4 weeks is appropriate. With limited funds when they arrive, they will need to wait until pay day to be able to pay board.

Question: Can they bring their families with them?

Answer: Immigration changes are coming to allow more workers to bring their families. It is important to consider the costs involved as sometimes they will be living on one income.

Question: Do they have to pay for anything during recruitment process?

Answer:  Honouring the agreement between governments, RecruitNZ does not charge any fees to the worker. The only charge they will face is medical testing and renewing their passport. We know of many who arrive with big loans, RecruitNZ does not believe this is a positive or ethical approach. Every step of our process is ethical and in the best interests of both the employee and the employer. We do more than just comply with the regulations.

Question: How long will their visa be?

Answer: Their visa length will be determined by Immigration NZ. Currently for lower skills it will be 1 year and mid-skilled up to 3years. With our process, we will do everything you can to get the longest visa possible.

Question: May we use our own advertising?

Answer: Yes, you may if you wish. We will, however check it to make sure it meets Immigration NZ requirements and make suggested edits. It is often more time effective to have us handle the entire process, but we try to work in with client requirements as much as possible.