There are a number of different visas to choose from in New Zealand depending on whether an expat wants to visit the country on holiday, travel around doing temporary jobs on a 'working holiday', or move to New Zealand long term.
The application process varies depending on the visa being applied for – the official Immigration New Zealand website provides information about each visa process. Expats could also seek the assistance of a professional visa-processing agency to help ensure that they are correctly informed about what is required of them.
Before applying, expats must ensure that their passport is valid for at least three months (but ideally six months or more) after the date of their arrival in New Zealand. They should also ensure that their passport has enough blank pages for all of the necessary arrival and departure stamps.
Applicants will also need to pay an application fee and supply several passport-sized photographs as well as any other additional information that may be required. It is important that expats take the time to ensure that their documentation is complete, as incomplete applications will be rejected.
Tourist visas for New Zealand
Travellers from some countries don’t need a tourist visa to enter New Zealand. These include nationals of the US, the UK, Japan and Canada, among others. That said, even if someone’s country is on the visa-waiver list they will need to supply evidence of funds and proof of onward travel, as well as getting a NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) before they travel.
Applicants for a New Zealand visitor visa are required to show that they are in good health, are of good character and have an appropriate purpose for their visit. They will also need to prove that they have plans to leave the country, such as an onward ticket, and that they have enough funds to support themselves during their stay.
Visitors need proof that they have a certain amount of money per month of their visit, and a passport that is valid for at least three months, but ideally six months or more, after the date of their departure.
The longest that someone can stay in New Zealand on a visitor visa is nine months. During this time, they are not allowed to work or study for longer than three months and must obey New Zealand law. Expats will face deportation if they disregard these conditions.
Work visas for New Zealand
There are many different visa options available for those wanting to live and work in New Zealand. When applying for a work visa for New Zealand, expats should ensure that they choose the correct visa for their situation. There are different visas for expats wanting to work in the country temporarily and for those wanting permanent employment.
Work to Residence visas for New Zealand
The Work to Residence visa allows holders to work in the country and apply for a resident visa after two years. In order for an expat to apply under the programme, their skills must be needed by a New Zealand employer or they must have exceptional talent in certain fields.
Applicants must fall within several categories in the Work to Residence programme. This includes skilled workers with a job offer from an accredited employer, those in occupations on the skills shortage list, expats with exceptional talents in art, culture or sport, or those who plan to establish a business in New Zealand.
Permanent resident visas for New Zealand
Those who have worked temporarily and decided to stay and live in New Zealand will need to apply for permanent residence.
New Zealand permanent residents are not citizens, but may remain in the country indefinitely. They are eligible for all of the rights and privileges of citizens, including access to healthcare, education and voting, as well as being able to leave and re-enter New Zealand as often as they like.
Requirements for permanent resident visas
In order to be eligible to apply for a permanent resident visa for New Zealand, applicants must have had a resident visa for at least two years continuously as well as meet at least one of the following criteria:
They have spent at least 184 days in New Zealand during each of the two years preceding the application
They can prove they have tax residence status with proper documentation
They have made an investment of 1,000,000 NZD or more in New Zealand for two years
They have at least 25 percent or more shares in a business in New Zealand that benefits the country in some way
They own a family home in New Zealand and have maintained paid employment for at least nine months within the two-year period
* Please note that visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
Are you an expat living in New Zealand?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to New Zealand. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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