New Zealand - China Free Trade Agreement.

Temporary entry and employment

The NZ-China FTA aims to make it easier for New Zealand and Chinese nationals to enter each other's country for a temporary stay related to the supply of services.

Both countries have made a commitment to, within 10 working days of a completed temporary entry or temporary employment entry visa application being received, either decide the application or advise when a decision will be made.

For New Zealand business people visiting China

China has agreed to fast processing of visa applications by New Zealanders visiting China for business purposes (including services suppliers, investors and goods sellers), and to greater transparency in processing the applications. This will ensure that the procedures that New Zealand business people need to follow in order to gain entry to do business in China do not become stricter - and provides New Zealand with a good basis on which to work to improve these conditions over time. The NZ-China FTA goes further in this respect than any of New Zealand's other FTAs.

In sectors where it has made services commitments China has also agreed to extend the maximum stay of New Zealand business visitors to six months, compared to the previous 90 days.

Intra-corporate transferees employed as managers, executives or specialists will be granted a work permit for the length of their contract or for an initial stay of three years in China, whichever is shorter.

For Chinese business people visiting New Zealand

In each of the service sectors for which New Zealand has made modes 1-3 service commitments (education, environmental, computer, photographic, duplicating and construction services), Chinese executives or managers who have been employed by their employer for at least 12 months prior to their proposed transfer to New Zealand may enter for an initial stay of up to three years. This may be extended for a further three years if the need for the executive or manager still exists.

New Zealand has also made two new Visa Facilitation commitments:

  • A commitment to provide a decision within 10 working days on student visa applications where the applicant has an offer of place in a degree-level course from an accredited New Zealand tertiary institution that has been enrolling Chinese students for at least two years, and the student meets health and character requirements, and
  • A commitment to create a new group transit visa for Chinese nationals.

Temporary employment entry for skilled workers

See Annex 10: Commitments on Temporary Entry by Natural Persons

The FTA includes commitments for skilled workers from China to enter New Zealand for temporary employment, without labour market testing (but subject to specified qualifications and work experience requirements and the requirement for a bona fide job offer), if they work in one of the following occupations:

  • Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners (maximum of 200)
  • Chinese chefs (maximum of 200)
  • Mandarin teaching aides (maximum of 150)
  • "Wushu" martial arts coaches (maximum of 150)
  • Chinese tour guides (maximum of 100)

In addition, a maximum of 1000 skilled Chinese workers at any one time shall be granted temporary employment for up to three years, in specified occupations where New Zealand has a skills shortage. Entry will be limited to no more than 100 workers in each occupation at any one time. Although involving only a limited number of Chinese workers, these commitments may help to ease labour shortages in the context of New Zealand's current tight employment market. Should the labour market in New Zealand loosen in the future, the requirement that such workers hold a bona fide job offer, and meet specified qualifications, work experience and registration requirements, will protect conditions for New Zealanders.

The list of occupations upon entry into force of the FTA is as follows (all occupations have attached qualification and experience requirements): computer application engineer, senior test analyst, structural engineer, veterinarian, fitter and turner, registered nurse, fitter welder, university or higher education lecturer, early childhood education teacher, design engineer - electronics / product engineer, auditor, electronics technician, medical diagnostic radiographer, medical radiation therapist, nuclear medicine technologist, boatbuilder, film animator, electrician, plumber, automotive electrician, diesel mechanic, motor mechanic.

Working holiday scheme

Alongside the FTA, New Zealand has established a working holiday scheme with China. The scheme provides for a maximum of 1000 Chinese nationals per year to enter New Zealand for one year. The scheme will allow young, skilled Chinese to engage in tourism and incidental employment in New Zealand and may assist in meeting labour shortages in areas such as the hospitality and horticulture and viticulture industries.

  • Page last updated: 17 February 2015