Immigration Officer 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 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.

Useful Experience

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.

Personal Qualities

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.


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.


Immigration officers:

  • 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.

Immigration Officers can earn around $45K-$55K per year.

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.

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.

Years Of Training

<1 year of training required.

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.

Immigration Officer