Business visitor or worker?

June 17, 2015

in Immigration

iStock_000019093513SmallNew Zealand has been becoming an increasingly desirable place to do business.  We have seen an increasing number of international investors, business owners and overseas based entrepreneurs interested in starting up or expanding their overseas operations into New Zealand.

Many of these businesses have been incredibly successful overseas and in order for them to start up in New Zealand, they would send an army of operational, marketing, and executive managers to initiate the new business operation.  These managers would meet us, other local business consultants, accountants, bankers, leasing agents, and other professionals.

The New Zealand immigration operational guidelines provide a special temporary visa category for these visitors to enter into New Zealand and undertake business activities.  However, it is often misconstrued by these visitors and overseas businesses that they are not permitted into New Zealand without a work visa.  In fact, the writer has been queried on several occasions about television shows about border control that illustrates the reluctance of New Zealand immigration officers to allow entry of employees of overseas companies that do not hold a work visa.

Incidents of non-entry have not been isolated to the television. We are aware of a recent example where an international franchise manager was detained at the border for over ten hours and subsequently declined entry.

Under the current immigration operational guidelines, the following people are considered to be business visitors and are not considered to be undertaking employment:

  1. Representatives on official trade missions recognised by the New Zealand government;
  2. Sales representatives of overseas companies in New Zealand for a period or periods no longer than a total of three months in any calendar year;
  3. Overseas buyers of New Zealand goods or services for a period or periods no longer than a total of three months in any calendar year;
  4. People undertaking business consultations or negotiations in New Zealand on establishing, expanding or winding up any business enterprise in New Zealand or carrying on any business in New Zealand, involving the authorised representatives of any overseas company, body or person for a period or periods no longer than a total of three months in any calendar year.

However, business visitors who need to be in New Zealand for longer than three months in any one year, and all other business visitors, must apply for a work visa.

We assist a number of international businesses and investors like franchisors, retailers, manufacturers, property developers, importers, and hoteliers, and are able to assist you or your employees with their immigration applications, and other legal matters.

If you require any advice or further information on the matters dealt with in this publication please contact the lawyer at Farry and Co. who normally advises you, or alternatively contact:

Steven Lee
09 379 0055 or 03 477 8870


The information contained in this publication is intended as a guide only.  It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Professional advice should be sought before applying any of the information to particular circumstances.  While every reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, Farry and Co. does not accept liability for any errors it may contain.

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