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 officer recruits usually start on
$57K per year
Immigration officers in managerial roles usually start on
$87K per year
Source: MBIE, 2022.
Pay for immigration officers varies depending on experience and the type of work they do. However, the starting salary is the same for all new recruits. This is due to the level of training required to become a fully qualified Immigration Officer.
- Immigration officer recruits usually start on $59,000 a year.
- Senior immigration officers usually earn between $59,000 and $90,000 a year.
- Immigration officers in managerial roles usually start on $87,000.
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 2022.
(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 stakeholders
- answer written and phone enquiries from migrants and other stakeholders
- read, check and decide on applications for residency or entry into New Zealand
- interview applicants
- provide correspondence between applicants, immigration advisors and lawyers
- explain decisions to applicants
- issue visas
- assess potential immigration risks
- manage caseloads
- investigate breaches of immigration laws.
Skills and knowledge
Immigration officers need to have:
- knowledge of immigration laws, policies and official procedure
- good interviewing and communication skills
- excellent writing skills
- excellent computer skills
- analytical and research skills
- a strong moral compass and be known to 'act with integrity'.
The ability to speak another language is also useful.
- usually work flexible hours between 6am-6pm, Monday to Friday
- usually work in Immigration New Zealand offices throughout the country, including: Manukau, Henderson, Palmerston North, Porirua and Christchurch
- 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.”
To be considered you must either be a NZ/Australian citizen or hold a Permanent Resident Visa.
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 provides full training to become an immigration officer. Training is completed within the first month for all new recruits. Full supervision is provided after training as well as being designated a buddy to assist new recruits on the floor.
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.
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 Immigration New Zealand recruits new immigration officers on a regular basis, typically each location will have an intake of 10-15 immigration officers every 3-4 months.
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 January 2023