New Zealand Immigration Regulations at a Glance
- Do I qualify for immigration to New Zealand?
- Which class should I apply under?
- What conditions do I need to satisfy?
- How long does it take to process a visa? (See our FAQs)
To help answer some of these questions here is a brief introduction to the New Zealand immigration system. Essentially, there are five main ways to emigrate to New Zealand. The usual categories for permanent residence classes are:
The other option is to apply for a Temporary Visa.
For recent changes + news on NZ immigration policies and regulations, please click here
SKILLED MIGRANT CATEGORY
Applying under skill categories has always been the most popular visa class for permanent residency in New Zealand. All applicants for this visa class must be under 56 years of age and are required to meet a minimum of 100 points and meet the health, character and English
language prerequisite before an Expression of Interest can be lodged with Immigration New Zealand.
Points are awarded for an offer of employment in New Zealand, work experience, qualifications and age. Bonus points are available for employment in areas of identified future growth, cluster or absolute skill shortages. Bonus points are also available for employment outside Auckland and for New Zealand qualifications.
Expressions of Interest are pooled and then ranked by Immigration New Zealand according to specific selection criteria. Those applications that meet the selected criteria will be selected in sufficient numbers to meet the places available and will be invited to lodge an Application
for Residence in New Zealand. It is not on a first in, first served basis. Applicants will then need to send all the necessary documents to support the claims made in their Expression of Interest.
The best chance for a successful EOI is to meet the above prerequisites AND have an offer of skilled employment (or current skilled employment) in New Zealand. Skilled employment is employment that requires specialist, technical or management expertise. Specifically, it is defined as a job or job offer in an occupation listed on the INZ "Skilled Occupations List".
Recent changes to the New Zealand Skilled Migration policies mean that applicants with skilled jobs in New Zealand or an offer of skilled employment prior to applying have a greater likelihood of being selected and invited to apply for residence.
Migration Bureau - with its team of Licensed Immigration Advisers and New Zealand Employment Consultants can assist you with the lodgment and processing of your visa application as well as the coordination of your job search in New Zealand.
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The family class is divided into four sub-classes: Partnership, Parent, Sibling/Adult Child and Dependant Child.
You may apply as a partner if you are legally married to a New Zealand citizen or resident OR Australian citizen OR if you are in a genuine and stable de-facto (common law) or same-sex relationship of at least 12 months duration.
You may apply as a parent if you satisfy the “centre of gravity” test, meaning you have an equal or greater number of adult children living in New Zealand than in any other country. Dependent children with a parent in New Zealand may also be eligible to apply for permanent residence. You may also be eligible to migrate to New Zealand if you have a parent or sibling who is a permanent resident or citizen.
Parent Retirement Category
The main objective of this visa category is to provide residence to those already with family ties in New Zealand and who wish to make a contribution to New Zealand’s economy. The new category will prioritise high net worth individuals already looking to migrate under the existing Family Category – Parent Class. Currently the Family Parent Category is capped and has a lengthy processing time frame of approximately 2 years. Applications under the new Parent Retirement Category will be processed quicker. Applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Have an adult child who lives in New Zealand and is either a NZ citizen or resident;
- Be able to meet the ‘centre of gravity’ test under the Family Parent Policy;
- Be able to nominate funds/assets of at least NZ$1 million and undertake to invest that money in New Zealand for a period of four years
- Be able to show that they own the (legally acquired) funds/assets;
- Be able to transfer and invest the said funds in an acceptable investment in New Zealand;
- Be able to nominate funds of NZ$0.5 million of settlement funds and demonstrate ownership of these funds;
- Have an annual income of at least NZ$60,000.
In this category, the applicant may include his/her partner and dependent children in the application. The principal applicant, partner and dependents must also meet the health and character requirements. Should you be successful in your application, you will need to transfer and invest your funds in New Zealand within 12 months of your approval in principle. If you fail to do so your application will be declined.
(See below for Temporary Retirement Visa)
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The Long-term Business Visa (LTBV)/Entrepreneur visa pathway is generally open to business owners, senior managers, company directors or those applicants with a successful history of self-employment or business ownership.
To immigrate to New Zealand under this class there is no minimum capital or past business ownership requirement. Instead applicants must prepare a viable, well-researched business plan and possess sufficient funds and relevant business experience to establish or purchase the proposed business in New Zealand. It is important that the business must be of benefit to New Zealand, in terms of creating employment for New Zealanders, increasing foreign exchange earnings or exports, revitalizing an existing business, or introducing new products, services or technology into the New Zealand market place.
The process to immigrate to New Zealand on this pathway involves two visa applications. Firstly, you will be issued with a long-term business (work) visa, for an initial period of nine months, to enter New Zealand to establish or purchase your business. Upon satisfying the
visa officer of this, you will then be issued a further work visa for up to a maximum period of 3 years, allowing you to continue establishing and running your business. Permanent residence is applied for under the Entrepreneur Class, once the business has been successfully established in New Zealand for at least 2 years and meets the prevailing criteria. The success of the first stage (LTBV) largely depends on the quality of your business plan, so make sure that you seek professional advice from a Migration Consultant on this aspect.
Entrepreneur Plus- a category for those already holding a LTBV, which will offer a faster path to residence for applicants who create at least three full-time jobs for New Zealanders and invest at least $500,000 in their business.
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The Migrant Investment Policy is divided into 2 categories –
Investor Plus: For those investing at least $10 million in New Zealand for three years. The age and English language requirements are relaxed for this category.
Investor: For those investing at least $1.5 million in New Zealand for four years. Applicants must be 65 years or younger, with at least $1 million in settlement funds and at least 3 year’s business experience. There are more requirements relating to English language and minimum
annual time spent in New Zealand.
All applicants under both categories must meet health and character requirements. The main advantage of this visa stream is that there is no requirement to actively own or operate a business in New Zealand.
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A number of temporary visas are also available;
Work visa: If you are offered a job that cannot be filled by a New Zealander and the New Zealand employer is willing to “sponsor” you, then it may be possible for you to apply for a work visa. The visa is issued for the duration of the employment contract or 3 years, whichever comes first.
Important note: Important note: New Zealand employers can sometimes be reluctant to sponsor offshore candidates unless there are specific skills shortages, and the candidate is able to start work within 4-6 weeks so check your employment opportunities first.
Working Holiday Visa: Citizens of certain countries who are aged between 18 years and 30 years may consider obtaining a Working Holiday Visa. This visa enables you to work and travel for 1 year (2 years for citizens of the United Kingdom) but work must be restricted to casual
positions and you must not undertake permanent employment.
Temporary Retirement Category: This is an extension visa designed for people who wish to stay in New Zealand longer than the 12 months of a visitor’s visa. Applicants will be issued with a 2 year multiple entry visitor’s visa which allows for travel in & out of New Zealand. It is only a temporary visa. At the end of the 2 years, applicants must leave New Zealand or re-apply for a further visa under this category, subject to meeting the requirement of this visa.
Applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Be aged 66 or over; and be able to nominate funds/assets of at least NZ$0.75 million and undertake to invest that money in New Zealand for a period of two years;
- Be able to show that they own the (legally earned or acquired) funds/assets;
- Be able to transfer & invest the said funds in an acceptable investment in New Zealand
- Be able to nominate funds of NZ$0.5 million of maintenance funds and demonstrate ownership of these funds; Have an annual income of at least NZ$60,000.
In this category, the applicant may include his/her partner but dependent children cannot be included. Both the principal applicant and partner must also meet the health and character requirements and hold and maintain comprehensive travel and or health insurance for the two year duration. Should you be successful in your application, you will need to transfer and invest your funds in New Zealand within 3 months of your approval in principle. If you fail to do so your application will be declined.
(See above for Parent Retirement Visa (permanent)
If you are in New Zealand on a valid student visa, it is possible to work on a part-time basis while studying an academic course in New Zealand;-
a) If it is a work experience requirement of your course, or
b) If it is Xmas/New Year work and your course is for at least 1 year, and/or
c) For up to 20 hours in any given week during the academic year if you are in full-time study:
- at a private training establishment or tertiary institution and taking at least 2 academic years to complete,or
- culminating in a New Zealand qualification that would qualify for points under the Skilled Migrant Category, or
- at a secondary school full year course of study in years 12 or 13, provided you have written permission from your school and written consent from your parent, or
- in a full-time study course lasting at least six months, at a private training establishment or tertiary institution. Your immigration officer has to be satisfied that the main purpose of your course is to develop English language skills and you have an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) overall band score of 5.0 or above (General or Academic Module), or
- at a tertiary level of at least one academic year duration as part of an approved tertiary student exchange scheme.
i) Under New Zealand law anyone on a temporary entry visa, (such as a student visa), cannot provide commercial sexual services or operate or invest in a business which provides such services. You are also not permitted to work in self-employment..
ii) If you intend to work while studying, you will have to apply to get the conditions of your visa changed.
iii) If you want to work in New Zealand after you have completed your course,, you need to apply under the Study to Work Instructions.
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CAUTION: Immigration regulations can change without advance notice. For the LATEST NEWS on New Zealand immigration policies and laws, please click here.
(Information in this page has been verified by Christine Yap, Licensed Immigration Adviser (IAA) No.200900258 as at 1st July 2011.)