Āpiha Whakahaere Manene
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 up to three years’ experience usually earn
$45K-$55K per year
Immigration officers in managerial roles usually earn
$55K-$90K per year
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 2018.
Pay for immigration officers varies depending on experience and the type of work they do.
- Immigration officers with up to three years' experience usually earn between $45,000 and $55,000 a year.
- Immigration officers in managerial roles usually earn between $55,000 and $90,000.
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 2018.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Immigration officers may do some or all of the following:
- interpret and provide information about immigration laws, policies and procedures for migrants and other customers
- answer written and phone enquiries from migrants and other customers
- 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.
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.
- usually work regular business hours, but may be required to work overtime sometimes
- usually work in Immigration New Zealand offices or international airports (as border immigration officers) in New Zealand. They may also work overseas at Immigration New Zealand's offshore processing 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?
What do you enjoy most about being an immigration officer?
“The variety the role brings and the opportunities there are. Although the job is mainly administrative and desk based, the opportunities are endless. Each application is different and each client is different.”
What do you find most challenging about being an immigration officer?
“When I first started, the main challenge was getting used to the policy and the instructions. Once I became familiar with those, everything fell into place and the work became easier.”
What skills are important to have as an immigration officer?
“Time management, confidence, the ability to prioritise your workload and an eye for detail are some important skills.
“The ability to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds is also key as customer service is at the heart of what we do.”
What advice would you give someone interested in becoming an immigration officer?
“The work can be challenging at times as each application is different, however it’s rewarding. The ability to understand and apply policy and instructions is crucial, and training is provided.
“Be open to new learning and the ability to develop new and effective ways of working.”
There are no specific requirements to become an immigration officer. However, a tertiary qualification that shows analytical ability and excellent written communication, such as a Bachelor of Arts, may be useful.
Immigration New Zealand (which is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) requires newly employed immigration officers to do five days of training and pass a test before they can begin work.
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become an immigration officer. However, English and languages are useful.
Immigration officers need to be:
- good at communicating, particularly in writing
- friendly, patient, honest 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 information private
- accurate, with an eye for detail.
Useful experience for immigration officers includes:
- work as a support officer with Immigration New Zealand
- work in a role that involves interpreting legislation, such as a contact centre role with a government organisation like Inland Revenue
- work in local or national government organisations, or state-owned enterprises
- customer service experience.
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
What are the chances of getting a job?
Immigration officer roles moving to New Zealand
Chances of getting work as an immigration officer are good, as between 50 and 60 new jobs will be created in New Zealand over the next three years to 2021. These jobs will replace positions in Immigration New Zealand's overseas visa processing centres, which will mostly be closed down due to:
- increasing popularity of online visa applications
- changes to how visa applications are processed.
Chances of getting a job as an immigration officer are best in Hamilton and Auckland, as demand is greatest in these locations. Immigration New Zealand also has offices in Palmerston North, Wellington and Christchurch.
According to the Census, 606 immigration officers worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Previous experience in administration or customer service useful
You can gain relevant experience and increase your chances of securing an immigration officer job if you have worked in an Immigration New Zealand customer service or administrative support role. A general background in customer service is also useful.
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.
- Horsfall, R, adviser, talent acquisition, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, careers.govt.nz interview, June 2018.
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Immigration Changes Will Result in More Staff in New Zealand', December 2017, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Immigration officers may progress to work in senior positions, or as managers.
They may also move on to work as business analysts in 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), who supervise and mentor immigration officers. They are appointed based on their experience in making visa and permit decisions.
Last updated 24 August 2020