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New Zealand - Registration and Residency

There are a number of different categories in which an individual can become a resident of New Zealand. Those workers with essential skills are welcomed and residency can be fairly straightforward for those who qualify. Those who do gain residency can then sponsor certain family members for the same status.

The Skilled Migrant Category is the best way for an expat to become a resident of New Zealand. This is to ensure that those moving to the country have the skills that the country needs. The system works on a points basis, taking into consideration qualifications, work experience and offers of employment. Those who want to set up their own business or invest in an existing business will find that this is also looked upon favourably. Those being sponsored by a family member will come under the Family category. There are different policies in place depending upon the relationship between the sponsor and the applicant.

There are also several special categories for those who come from certain countries. There is a special scheme for residents of Samoa, which allows a certain number to take up residence in New Zealand each year. The Pacific Access Category is for those from Tonga, Kiribatu and Tuvula. There is also a category for the families of those who have arrived in the country as refugees.

When applying under the skilled migration scheme – which will apply to the majority of applicants – there are two stages. The first is known as ‘Expression of Interest’. Those who meet the selection criteria under this scheme can submit an expression of interest. The points scores for each criterion are calculated and are placed into a pool. Those with the highest points scores are selected once a fortnight, although the number selected will depend upon how many immigrants are to be allowed to take up residence in the country for that year. There is a selection point minimum score and any expression of interest below this point is rejected. Any applications with a points score of 140 are automatically sent an invitation to apply, those with a score of between 100 and 140 may be invited depending on the immigration limits, and those below 100 are rejected.

Points are applied for a number of aspects of your application. For example, if you have a firm offer of employment in the country you can gain bonus points if the job offer is in a field which has a shortage of skilled workers, or in an under-populated area. Points are also given for relevant work experience, qualifications and your age.

Those who have a successful application undergo a first stage verification check and those that pass are invited to apply for a residency permit. This second stage of the application will assess all the relevant documentation and other criteria.

The process of applying for residency differs slightly for each category. Some people may be able to apply for the status of a permanent resident immediately, while others will be issued a work permit or visa which will allow them into the country temporarily and will allow them to apply for permanent residency at a later date. Fees for different visas and permits are different and this information can be obtained from your local New Zealand consulate. Fees will also vary depending upon your country of origin. Fees are non-refundable, even if your application is declined.

When your application is received you will be sent a letter to confirm that it is being considered. This letter will also give you the details of the person responsible for processing your application. You may be asked at this stage to send further documentation to support your application. This letter might also contain the original documents that you have sent with your application form if they have already been checked.

Immigration officers will also check the application to ensure that it meets with current immigration policy, as well as verifying that you are genuine and do not pose any risk to the country. All documentation will be verified and your family relationships with other applicants will be confirmed. It is possible that you may be asked to provide photographs or further documentation such as a medical certificate. Further medical examinations will be required when applying for residency and most applicants are required to attend an interview.

The time for processing applications varies according to how much information is required. If all the facts can be verified quickly then processing time can be fairly rapid. Each office will also have different processing times. In order to keep the processing time to a minimum it is essential that you include all the required documentation. The information guide with the application form will say if originals or photocopies are required.

New Zealand has an online processing system which can be used to check the progress of your application. Details of your application will not be discussed while a decision is pending.

Those who are moving to New Zealand with a valid passport from Australia or an Australian residency permit are normally given a residence permit on arrival.

An individual can apply for a residency permit if they already have a family member who is a citizen or resident of New Zealand. They can be sponsored by that person or apply themselves. There are several categories for this type of application. You can apply if you are the spouse or partner of a resident, if you are a dependent child or if you are the parent of a resident. You can also apply if you are the sibling or an adult child of a resident.

There are three possible outcomes to an application for a residency permit. You may be approved immediately and granted the permit. The second possibility is that you will be granted a work to residence permit, which will allow you to move to the country and take up employment, which in turn can lead to permanent residency. The third possibility is that your application will be declined.

There is no requirement to register with a government department when you arrive as this is covered by your residency status or work permit. Most foreign embassies also do not require that their citizens register with them although they may have schemes for you to do so for peace of mind.

Useful Resources

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

British Consulate General Auckland
Level 17
151 Queen Street
Auckland 1010
Tel: (+64) (9) 303 2973

British Honorary Consul Christchurch
Tel: (+64) (0) 3 332 5535

Consulate General of the United States of America
Private Bag 92022,
New Zealand
Tel: (09) 303 2724

Read more about this country

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