Āpiha Whakahaere Manene
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Immigration officers control the entry of people from other countries into New Zealand, assessing visa applications from people who wish to visit, study, work or reside in NZ.
Immigration officers with one to three years’ experience usually earn
$40K-$55K per year
Senior immigration officers with managerial responsibilities usually earn
$70K-$90K per year
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 2016.
Current job prospects
How many people are doing this job?
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
Pay for immigration officers varies depending on their experience.
- Immigration officers with one to three years' experience usually earn between $40,000 and $55,000 a year.
- Immigration officers with managerial responsibilities usually earn between $70,000 and $90,000.
Source: Bradshaw, K, recruitment adviser, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, July 2016.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Immigration officers may do some or all of the following:
- provide information about immigration laws, policies and procedures
- answer written and phone enquiries
- read, check and decide on applications for residency or entry into New Zealand
- interview applicants
- explain decisions to applicants
- issue permits and visas
- assess potential immigration risks
- investigate breaches of immigration laws
- advise on immigration policy and operations.
Skills and knowledge
Immigration officers need to have:
- knowledge of immigration laws, policies and official procedure
- knowledge and understanding of a range of cultures
- good interviewing and communication skills
- excellent writing skills
- analytical and research skills.
The ability to speak another language is also useful.
- work regular business hours, but may be required to work overtime. Their position may be fixed term or permanent
- usually work in Immigration New Zealand offices or international airports (as border immigration officers) within New Zealand. They may also work overseas at Immigration New Zealand's offshore offices, and at embassies, consulates and high commissions
- work in conditions that may be stressful when dealing with difficult or complicated cases.
What's the job really like?
Variety of the job appeals
Immigration officer Lakshmi Murali says it's the variety of tasks and duties she enjoys most about her job. "Each case is a learning process, because you do something different with each one."
Lakshmi organises permits for people who have married New Zealanders, those who have offers of work in New Zealand and people who are just visiting. "We might speak to employers, do labour market checks or talk to our client to clarify certain things."
Understanding the process from both sides
Lakshmi can understand the immigration process from both sides, having moved from India to New Zealand herself. When clients find the experience difficult or stressful, she can empathise with them. "When you apply as an immigrant, you're so anxious to know what's going to happen – whether you're going to be approved or not – and you really want to know the progress of your case."
Despite that pressure, Lakshmi finds serving new immigrants very rewarding. "Once people talk to us and we explain why something is taking the time it does, and the process we're following, then they're usually happy with that."
To become an immigration officer you need to:
- be a New Zealand citizen or have permanent residency
- take part in five days of warrant training, where you interpret immigration policy and apply it to case studies
- pass a test after this training, so you are warranted (qualified) to work in immigration
- undergo on-the-job training in immigration policy and its application
- be willing to complete further training, such as advanced customer service skills or writing for work.
A tertiary qualification that demonstrates analytical ability and excellent written communication may be useful.
A tertiary entrance qualification is needed to enter further training. Useful subjects include English, languages, geography and history.
Immigration officers need to be:
- good at communicating, particularly in writing
- friendly, patient and fair
- responsible and resilient under pressure
- able to use sound judgement
- able to work well under pressure and in a team
- able to keep infomation private
- accurate, with an eye for detail.
It's a very people-oriented job. You deal with people all of the time, and are constantly in contact with all sorts of different organisations in the course of processing applications.
The most useful experience for immigration officers is working at an Immigration New Zealand contact centre, located in Auckland or Palmerston North, as this provides experience and knowledge of immigration laws.
Other useful experience includes:
- management of caseloads or workflows
- applying policies or rules and making decisions of consequence, such as work on insurance claims
- work in local or national government organisations, or state-owned enterprises
- customer service.
Experience living or working overseas and/or using a second language is also an advantage.
Find out more about training
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
- (04) 901 1499 - www.mbie.govt.nz/about-us/careers
What are the chances of getting a job?
Previous experience in a call centre, administration, or customer service highly valued
Working in an Immigration New Zealand call centre or in an administrative support role is a good way to gain experience and get a job as an immigration officer. Having a background in customer service is also useful.
Immigration officers in demand in Christchurch
The rebuild of Christchurch after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes has created high demand for immigration officers to process applications from skilled migrants.
As a result, the chances of getting a job in Christchurch as an immigration officers have increased.
One employer of immigration officers
Immigration New Zealand (part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) is the only employer of immigration officers in New Zealand.
- Bradshaw, K, recruitment adviser, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Careers New Zealand interview, 2016.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
Progression and specialisations
Immigration officers may progress to be senior immigration officers, working at Immigration New Zealand's offshore locations.
They may also progress to be business analysts within Immigration New Zealand, other parts of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment or in other government departments.
Immigration officers may specialise as Immigration Specialists (Technical Advisers).
- Immigration Specialist (Technical Adviser)
- Immigration specialists (technical advisers) supervise and mentor immigration officers. They are appointed based on their experience in making visa and permit decisions.
Last updated 2 September 2016