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New Zealand - Visas

There are different types of visas required for entering New Zealand, depending upon how long you are planning on staying and the reason for your visit, but there are those who may not need a visa.

For a short visa there is a list of countries whose residents do not require a visa. A short visit is considered to be three months or less. This list is available from the New Zealand Immigration department website but includes countries such as the USA, most European nations and parts of the Far East. If you are from one of these countries you may still be required to provide travel documentation and proof that you can support yourself while you are in the country. For longer stays, visas are required.

Citizens of the UK are able to visit New Zealand for six months without the need for a visa. Those from Australia do not need a visa at all.

If you do require a visa for a short stay then you need to obtain an application from your local New Zealand consulate. You will need to provide proof that you have a return ticket and that you can support yourself during your stay in the country.

Skilled Migrant Visa

Visas for those who want to live and work in the country fall into several different categories. The main one of these is the Skilled Migrant Category. In order to qualify for a long-stay visa in this category you must be between the ages of 20 and 55 and be able to speak good English. You also need to be in good health and have a good character. There are a number of work areas in the country which have a skills shortage. These include healthcare, teaching, engineering and trades such as electricians and plumbers. A complete list is available from the website of the New Zealand immigration department.

When first applying you register an ‘expression of interest’. This will allow you to claim points for different aspects of your application, such as work experience and qualifications. These details are entered into a pool if you have a points score of more than 100. Anything below this level is automatically rejected, but you are not prohibited from entering another expression of interest at a later date. Those who have more than 140 are automatically given an invitation to apply. Any applications between 100 and 140 are invited to apply if immigration quotas have not reached their limit.

The Invitation to Apply is the next stage and it is at this point that you will need to supply proof of work experience and qualifications. You will also need medical certificates and proof that you do not have a criminal record. You may need to prove that you have a good working knowledge of the English language. The information you provide at this stage must match the information given in the expression of interest. It is at this stage that you are assessed for suitability for residency. There is a possibility that at this stage you will be invited to attend an interview.

There are three possibilities when your application is processed. You may be issued with a residency permit immediately, allowing you to live and work in the country indefinitely. The second possibility is that you may be given a work to residence permit. This allows you to settle in the country and work for up to nine months, at which stage you will be reassessed to see if you have settled properly. There is no guarantee of residency at the end of this period.

Business Visa

Another category which may apply to those wishing to live and work in New Zealand is that of business. You can apply under this category if you wish to set up your own business or invest in an existing business. If you are an investor you can apply for a residence visa, or a visitor’s visa which lasts for two years. Those who want to buy an existing business or set up a business can apply first for a Long Term Business Visa and then apply for residency under the Entrepreneur policy. For both of these categories an application pack can be obtained from the New Zealand Immigration department, either as a download or by mail.

Samoan Quota Scheme

There is a Samoan Quota Scheme for residents of Samoa. There is a limited number of applications allowed under this scheme each year and the scheme is run by a ballot. If you are chosen you then need to make an application for residency. Registration for this scheme must be lodged during the official registration period, and the dates for this vary each year. Further information is available from the New Zealand Immigration department website. Samoan residents are also able to apply to move to the country under other categories, such as the skilled worker category and family category.

Pacific Access Scheme

The Pacific Access Category is a similar scheme to the Samoan Quota. Successful applications are limited and those that are successful are chosen in a ballot scheme. This scheme applies to citizens of Tonga, Tuvalu and Kiribati. If you are chosen from the ballot then you are able to make an application for residency. Registrations for the ballot take place between certain dates each year and the details of these can be found on the website of the New Zealand Immigration department.

When making a visa application in any of these categories you will need to provide documents to support your application. Some of these may take time to obtain so you should apply for them as soon as possible. These include items such as a police certificate, which will detail if you have any criminal convictions. You may also be required to undergo a medical examination and should supply a certificate from your doctor which proves that you are in good health. A police certificate can be no more than six months old when you make your application and a medical certificate must be less than three months old.

Medical certificates are not required if you are staying in the country for less than six months. If you visit for more than six months or less than a year you only need a temporary x-ray certificate, although children below the age of 11 and women who are pregnant are exempt from this. Those staying in New Zealand for more than a year will need a ‘Medical and Chest X-Ray Certificate’. For the residents of some countries there are selected panels of approved medical professionals to issue these certificates. If this applies to your country you will be advised of this when you receive your application pack. Any fees applied by medical professionals are the responsibility of the applicant.

The application process is different for each category of applicant. Each has a different fee and these vary depending up on the type of visa that you are applying for and your country of origin. This has to be paid when you make the application and is not refundable if your application is unsuccessful.

When you submit your application you will receive a letter to acknowledge receipt and you will be informed of the name of the officer responsible for your application. You may receive your original documents back at this stage or you may be asked to send other documentation to support your application. Your details will be checked to ensure that you are genuine and that you do not pose a threat or risk to New Zealand. Your documents will also be checked to ensure that they are genuine and your relationships with other family members will also be checked.

You might be asked to submit further documentation such as proof of qualifications, photographs and information on your travel arrangements. If your medical certificate raises any questions you may need to undergo further checks and many applicants are expected to attend an interview with an immigration officer.

Applications vary in the length of time that it takes to process them. Each category has different requirements and if there are any questions raised by your application then this can delay matters. If you respond quickly to any queries then this will help to speed the process up. If you ensure when you send your application that you have included all the requested information this can also help the process. Processing time may also vary depending upon the office that is processing the application, but each office should be able to give applicants an idea of processing time.

You need to ensure that your passport is valid and has plenty of time left to run on it, as having the visa depends on this. The visas will not be issued if your passport is not valid and this can also delay matters. You can check on the progress of your application online, even if your application was done by post. However, you cannot enter into discussions with the immigration office about your application until you have received the decision in writing.

Useful Resources

New Zealand Immigration Department
PO Box 3705
New Zealand
Tel: 09069 100 100 (from UK)
Tel: +64 9 914 4100 (from other countries)
Tel: 09 914 4100 (from Auckland)
Tel: 0508 558 855 (from other parts of New Zealand)

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