Before Engaging An International Recruitment Agency

If you are a New Zealand employer interested in recruiting skilled migrants, the following information will provide a comprehensive overview of what to expect when engaging an international recruitment agency. This will provide valuable insights into the international recruitment process,and how it differs from recruiting NZ residents. Also be sure to review the FAQs on recruiting overseas workers

NZ employers can obtain accreditation from Immigration NZ to utilise the AEWV (Accredited Employer Work Visa) to hire migrants for up to three years. To qualify, employers must pay at least the NZ median wage, unless the role is on an exemption list or one of the specific occupations included in the Government’s sector agreements. Employers must also be able to provide evidence that there are no suitable New Zealanders available for the role.

The AEWV is intended for skilled workers, and the median wage is used to distinguish between high and lower-skilled roles. For lower-skilled roles, employers can still hire migrants from other more appropriate visa types such as working holiday, student, and post-study work visas. Our partner company, VisaAide, can provide specific support and guidance around the various types of work visas.

1. Why work with an international recruitment agency when I could do it myself?

Employers who wish to recruit migrants without the guidance
of an international recruitment agency need to be very aware
of the overseas recruitment process, and the potential risks

It is important to:

  • Have all the information required for the process before
    commencing. That means being familiar with current
    Immigration NZ requirements, employment law, and any
    laws from the country you are recruiting from. For example, recruiting from the Philippines requires compliance with the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).
  • Be aware of any changes in immigration policy, processes, and requirements that come into force during the application process.

Any oversight, omission, or error will cause lengthy delays. After all, there are multiple factors involved when recruiting migrant workers; for this reason, we believe it is best to partner with an experienced international recruitment agency that works in an ethical and knowledgeable manner. RecruitNZ and our People Inc partners are leaders in this regard. RecruitNZ works closely with DMW Licensed recruitment agencies in the Philippines, and we are also  guided by the expertise of VisaAide, our in-house licensed immigration advisers.

2. Is it cost effective to recruit from overseas via an international recruitment agency?

In our experience, if an employer spends more than 1.5 days a month recruiting skilled workers, it is far more cost effective to outsource this work to a specialist international recruitment company.

The administrative steps of international recruitment are continually evolving. Every oversight or omission can cause
lengthy delays. Due to the close relationship we maintain with our expert advisors, our international recruitment team
responds immediately when any process changes occur.

RecruitNZ ensures clients are fully informed throughout by their dedicated case manager. Being assigned a single contact point simplifies the experience for clients, and it also ensures the recruitment process proceeds as rapidly as possible. 

When working with RecruitNZ, clients are also able to access expert advice from our in-house licensed immigration consultants at VisaAide. VisaAide can advise on all aspects of migration and visas to both New Zealand and Australia. Only licensed immigration consultants may give employers advice on visa applications for employees.

3. What are the visa options for migrants workers?

In most instances, migrant workers will need an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV): this has replaced a number of other New Zealand work visas. Read more about the Accredited Employer Work Visa.

The AEWV approach is employer-led, which in practical terms means you may only employ migrant workers after being accredited by Immigration New Zealand. Employers also need to provide evidence that there no suitably qualified New Zealanders available to work. Only once these requirements have been fulfilled are candidates able to apply for the Accredited Employer Work Visa.

Although the AEWV is the most common type of work visa, there are other visa options available as well. Please contact our partners at VisaAide to determine the most appropriate work visa for your needs.

4. Why is employer accreditation and why do I need it?

If you would like to hire skilled migrants, the very first step of the process is to gain employer accreditation from Immigration New Zealand. Read more about employer accreditation.

To be approved as an accredited employer and employ migrant workers on an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV), an organisation must prove that their business is viable, meets immigration and employment standards, and will not exploit the migrants they may hire.

RecruitNZ can assist you with your accreditation application as your international employment agency. Be aware that the application process may be time consuming and complicated if you are not familiar with it.

5. How is international recruitment different to NZ recruitment?

Migrant recruitment requires a different approach to that taken with general domestic recruitment. While much of the process is the same, there are many more steps and administrative requirements with international recruitment. After all, it involves working in an environment where either the NZ government or overseas governments could announce changes in policies or procedures at any time.

This makes it a complex undertaking for those not fully immersed in it.

When you select an international recruitment agency, be sure to ask what steps they take, to ensure that no important processes are omitted.

Here is an overview of our international recruitment process, which outlines how we work collaboratively with VisaAide and ConsultingHQ, our People Inc Partners:


Job ads: expect to be inundated with responses

When a position description and person specification has been developed using the same standards as for national recruitment, RecruitNZ advertises your position in the Philippines and commences the ‘search’ step.

Unlike New Zealand-based job advertisements, all positions advertised in the Philippines receive hundreds – if not thousands – of applications. Therefore significant time is required to process and assess these applications.

Following the initial application screening process, RecruitNZ then conducts interviews online. For every position, our team may potentially interview dozens of applicants.

The extensive interviewing of numerous candidates often results in us registering many more candidates than we have positions for. Other employers may benefit from these high-calibre, pre-screened applicants – this may save valuable time in the recruitment process if we have candidates in the industry or role you are recruiting for. Here are the summaries of skilled workers we currently have registered with us.

Trade testing

Trade testing isn’t generally carried out when recruiting within New Zealand. But when you’re investing in a skilled migrant worker, it is vital that their skills live up to your expectations. Therefore trade testing is very important when recruiting from overseas. While some employers prefer to travel to the Philippines to supervise this part of the process, it is not really necessary to do so.
It is strongly recommended that employers pay an assessment fee for an ‘official’ skills assessment to be carried out, so that they can be assured 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 may than likely backfire in the future.

Our experience in this arena as an ethical international recruitment agency saves employers not only time but also money.

Following successful trade skill assessments, the employee needs to undertake medical checks, obtain a passport, and provide police records. This is the one part of the process that the employee is required to fund if the employer chooses not to.

International recruitment changes lives

It is important to remember that international recruitment affects human lives, and families are impacted to a far greater degree than with standard recruitment. The transition for workers is significant, especially as they usually leave their families behind when they come to work in New Zealand.

RecruitNZ take steps as part of our own process – outside of the minimum requirements – to help minimise culture shock on arrival, and to make sure the people coming to New Zealand feel at home and are properly welcomed. We send all our Filipino recruits a welcome pack that includes a $30 SIM card, cooler pack lunchbox, drink bottle, and beanie. Plus the worker receives on-going pastoral support from us via our dedicated Facebook group, as well as on-going check ins from our team.

Regardless of the many official requirements for pastoral care, it is vitally important to us that we take into consideration that these people are separated from their families and loved ones for an extended period. When you select an international recruitment agency, please ask them detailed questions around the type of pastoral care they offer to migrants.

Note also that there are regulations in place to ensure migrant employees are not taken advantage of. Once the workers have arrived and are settled in, you will be fine as long as you work within New Zealand employment law requirements.

6. Why recruit from the Philippines rather than other countries?

The Philippines has an abundance of highly skilled and experienced workers in a wide variety of industries. Thus there is a broad and deep pool of experience to tap into. Furthermore, Filipinos hold New Zealand in high regard and consider it a highly desirable place to work.

Culturally, Filipinos are a good fit too: they are generally reliable, hard working, and show up at work with a great attitude.

Recruiting from the Philippines is a wonderful way for New Zealand employers to attain the skills they require to complete projects on time.

With the pressure in the construction industry, for example, being as it currently is, cost overruns due to project delays must be avoided whenever possible. And the lack of labour availability is one of the most common causes for delay.

Recruiting skilled workers from overseas has been an option available to New Zealand employers for many years, but in more recent times it has become a very popular trend. It has now evolved as a mini-industry, requiring specialist recruitment skills and experience. That’s why RecruitNZ established a specialist international division several years ago. Our international division consists of specialist recruiters and administrators who manage as seamless a process as possible for employers through a complex set of requirements.

7. What are the cultural differences employers should be aware of?

People from the Philippines generally settle into New Zealand very well and make excellent employees.

Filipinos are generally reliable and almost always show up every day with a happy attitude and are ready to work – this may provide a pleasant surprise for some employers.

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

8. What is pastoral care, and why is it important?

Pastoral care is the work involved when a person (or organisation) has the responsibility for the wellbeing of another, be it through emotional or social support. As we specialise in recruitment, the wellbeing of all employees and employers is foremost in our hearts and minds.

Pastoral care is crucial when it comes to international recruitment, where workers are a long way from their loved ones for an extended period of time. They’re also in a foreign country, which comes with the risk of exploitation. Employers have a duty of care to all their workers – but especially to migrant workers, who have entered the country for the explicit purpose of working for them.

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

The NZ government noticed this too, and was concerned about the poor treatment of some migrants. Steps were taken to penalise employers whose conduct was considered to be unethical and unacceptable. Some employers were completely banned from employing migrants in future because of the way they had treated their migrant workers.

Consequently, in 2022 Immigration New Zealand (INZ) introduced changes to visas and policies including the requirement for all employers who hire migrant workers to become an approved accredited employer.

Specific pastoral care requirements for Filipino workers

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) stipulates and monitors special rules around pastoral care for Filipino workers. New Zealand employers who hire migrants from the Philippines must follow these rules.

The requirements include greeting your new employee at the airport; ensure they have a method to get to work each day; help them finalise their NZ bank account and IRD number; help them access healthcare and public transport; help them find somewhere to live; 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. You must also inform them of local services and community support groups that might be of benefit to new migrant employees.

Relocating to NZ can be a significant adjustment; so the more you help a migrant at the beginning, the more quickly they will become productive. Therefore, providing new arrivals with a meal, some groceries, and information on their local area is recommended. While in your care, your employees are your responsibility. You are not required to feed them, but until they are able to purchase food themselves, this would be a valuable undertaking. It is a small cost in the overall scheme of their employment with you and the value that they will add to your business.Read more about the specific pastoral care requirements for Filipino workers.


I’d just like to say thank you to RecruitNZ for bringing me here in this beautiful place to work for an awesome employer. I am beyond grateful for where I am now. I’m in good hands and have a generous employer."

- Jaypee | Aluminium Fabricator/Installer

9. Why should I comply with Department of Migrant Workers (DMW)?

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) supervises and regulates the international recruitment of Philippine nationals. 

If you are wondering why you should follow the rules and laws of another country, know that these have been agreed on in conjunction with the NZ government. And the DMW is represented by Migrant Workers Office (MWO) in Wellington, so they have a physical presence in New Zealand.

International recruitment agencies wishing to recruit from the Philippines must be POEA licensed – which RecruitNZ is.

Approval is also required from the DMW before employers can recruit from the Philippines. The paperwork to gain approval is significant and requirements can change often.

Internally, we have developed a ‘catch-all’ process, to ensure 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 and worthwhile process.

10. Can I hire 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 (since 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 the full visa period.

Overall, the cost to you will be lower if you hire permanent workers, even with recruitment fees takeninto consideration.

Temp agencies charge far greater fees 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.

11. What about on-going processes and procedures?

Once your workers have arrived, you will need to take them through a site safety and standard induction programme as you would for any new employee. This involves completing all standard HR compliance processes – including employee records, training and development plans, key performance indicators, and one-to-one interviews.

Part of the requirement of hiring a migrant worker is that you must give your employees time to complete Employment New Zealand’s online modules, within one month of beginning their employment as an AEWV holder.

The employee modules help migrants learn about their employment rights and therefore help to avoid potential disagreements.

You must keep records of whether your migrant workers have completed the modules – and you may be asked to see them.

Both RecruitNZ and ConsultingHQ, our HR consulting team, can help you establish correct, compliant HR processes if you do not already have them in place.

Do you have any questions about international recruitment?

See our FAQs on recruiting overseas workers – or get in touch with our specialist international recruitment consultants.

Our Concrete Company engaged the services of Recruit NZ to help us find some Filipino concrete contractors to join our busy company. We have been extremely happy with the process that RecruitNZ have in place and were fully informed of what was happening the whole way through this journey. It is not a quick process and we could not have done this without a company like RecruitNZ on board to sort out all the legal requirements needed to employ someone from the Philippines. We are also thankful with the ongoing support we have had from Recruit NZ in helping out with the transition for the Filipino guys into our business. We would recommend this process to anyone looking to employ someone from the Philippines as we are more than happy with our 2 new workers. We are now looking to employ a few more candidates in the near future to help us grow our company."

Jodie Wallen | Wallen Concreting

Do you have questions for our international recruitment agency?

Please contact us for advice and information, we’ll be glad to help you.