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How does the New Zealand Government’s immigration system work?

The system is run by a Government Department known as Immigration New Zealand or INZ.

Immigration system is looking to attract permanent migrants that can help meet demands for skills in New Zealand’s labour market, and investors or entrepreneurs who have capital to invest in the NZ economy or people who have a family or relationship connection.

Temporary visas are granted for workers, students, visitors and young people looking to do a working holiday.

Often Immigration New Zealand uses point systems to evaluate if a migrant has enough of the desired attributes to qualify for the type of visa they are seeking.

What issues will you face?

Immigration policies can be complex and difficult to follow, with some rules quite ambiguous.

The average Immigration Officer is often processing large numbers of applications at once, and they do not advise you on the suitability of your application before processing your fee. So, it is your responsibility to prove to your Immigration officer that you meet the criteria for the visa you are applying for.

With the average cost of doing a visa application ranging anywhere between $1000 to $4000 or more (taking in to account Government visa application fees, the costs of medicals, and charges for obtaining police clearances and translations) it makes sense to figure out if your eligible before you apply.

How do I know what visa to apply for?

First you need to assess the basic criteria and categories available to you.

If you are looking to visit or work on a working holiday, then it is straightforward to apply for a visitor’s visa or working holiday visa. New Zealand has a range of visa options depending on whether you want to work here, study, invest or simply enjoy a visit.

The visa options:

Visas to work

You’re likely to need a job or job offer to apply for one of our resident or temporary work visas.

If you have specialist skills or work in an area of skills shortage, and have a qualification that is comparable to those that New Zealand employers are used to, you’ll find that there are great career opportunities for you here.

The Skilled Migrant Category uses a points system based on factors such as age, work experience, your qualifications, and an offer of skilled employment to determine eligibility.

Another option is the Residence from Work visa. Once you’ve held a Work to Residence visa for at least 24 months, you may be able to eligible to apply.

Once you’ve been in New Zealand for two years on a Work to Residence visa you may be eligible for residence status under the Residence from Work Category.

This category is a great way to ‘upgrade’ from a temporary work visa to a residence visa. As a resident, you’ll be able to stay in New Zealand indefinitely and access most publicly funded services.

To be eligible you’ll need to:

Have been in New Zealand on a Work to Residence visa for two years and meet health and character requirements

You’ll also need to satisfy the requirements of one of the following two pathways:

From an Accredited Employer work visa

If you were granted a temporary work visa to allow you to work for an accredited employer in New Zealand, you can apply for a residence class visa under Residence from Work (Accredited Employers) Category.

To be eligible you’ll need to:

  • Have held a Work to Residence: Accredited Employer work visa for at least 24 months
  • Have been employed full time for that period by an accredited employer
  • Be currently employed and have a base salary of at least NZ$55,000 per year
  • Hold full or provisional registration to practise in your occupation in New Zealand (if applicable)

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From a Long-Term Skill Shortage List work visa

If you were granted a temporary work visa to allow you to work for an employer in New Zealand in an occupation on the Long-Term Skill Shortage List, you can apply for residence under Long Term Skill Shortage List Category.

To be eligible you’ll need to:

have held a work visa granted under the Work to Residence: Long Term Skill Shortage category for at least 24 months have been employed full time for that period in an occupation on the Long-Term Skill Shortage List.

be currently employed and have a base salary of at least NZ$45,000 per year be aged 55 years or younger hold full or provisional registration to practise in your occupation in New Zealand (if applicable).

Working Holiday Visas

There are many reasons why New Zealand is favourite destination for young travellers. The landscape is beautiful, our urban centres are generally safe and the Kiwi people are friendly and welcoming. We’re travellers ourselves so know what it’s like to immerse yourself in a new country and culture.

Every year hundreds of young people apply for New Zealand working holiday visas, and spend a year or two working in New Zealand.

Eligibility and criteria

Working holiday visas are available to young people, usually aged 18-30, but 18-35 in a select few countries. They let you travel and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months, or 23 months if you’re from the UK. You need to have a return ticket, or enough money to pay for one, and be coming mainly to holiday, with work being a secondary intention.

Student Visas

We have a range of visas that allow you to go to school, take a course, or do other training.

Looking for advice on what visa to apply for and help with your application?

Get in touch to discuss how we can help you with your visa application.