How to Migrate to NZ

Want to immigrate to New Zealand?

Here’s what you need to know before you apply.

I want to work or live in New Zealand: What are my options?

The New Zealand immigration system is complicated. You’re bound to have questions. This page is designed to help you to gain a basic understanding of what your options are if you’re looking to live or work in New Zealand. We’ve summarised the different visa types available as well as what problems applicants often run into when lodging their application.

Who can immigrate to New Zealand?

The immigration system is run by a government department known as Immigration New Zealand, or INZ.

INZ is looking to attract permanent migrants who have:

  • In-demand skills that can help New Zealand’s labour market
  • Capital to invest in the New Zealand economy, i.e., investors and entrepreneurs
  • A family or relationship connection

Temporary visas may be granted to:

  • Temporary workers
  • Students
  • Visitors, including tourists and business travellers
  • Working holiday candidates

For some Residence Visa application types, INZ uses a points system to evaluation whether a person qualifies.

For those seeking residence based on their skills and qualifications, a job offer is essential as is an ability to pass an English language test.

How do I know what type of visa to apply for?

New Zealand offers a range of visa options, depending on whether you want to work here, study, invest, or simply enjoy a visit. The first step of any visa application is to assess the categories available to you and their basic criteria. Here is a quick overview of visa types:

Goal Visa Type
Visit as a tourist, see friends and family, or do business Visitor Visa
Travel New Zealand while working part time to fund travels Working Holiday Visa
Live and work in New Zealand temporarily Accredited Employer Work Visa
Live and work in New Zealand permanently Skilled Migrant Residence Visa (Green List or Points System); Investor Category Visa, Family Category Residence Visa

Did you know?

Migrants don’t always need a visa to apply for, or be offered, a job.

Employers can accept applications and make a job offer to someone who doesn’t yet have a visa with work entitlements. You just need to make your job offer conditional on them getting a visa before they start work. Your written job offer is one of the documents needed for their visa application.

Unsure which visa type you should apply for? You may qualify for more than one category. Contact us for expert advice on the best pathway forward.

I want to live in New Zealand. What visa types can I apply for?

While there are many visa types, each with their own requirements, here are the main pathways you should consider. Click the links for more information about each category, including application criteria.

  • Partnership – Your partner is a New Zealand resident or citizen
  • Skilled Migrant – You have skills or work in an occupation on a skills shortage list
  • Family – You have a close family connection to New Zealand
  • Investor – You have between $5million and $15 million to invest in New Zealand
  • Entrepreneur – You wish to buy or set up a business in New Zealand
  • Green List Visa – You have in demand skills that may qualify you for a fast track to residency

I want to work in New Zealand. What visa types can I apply for?

If you have a qualification comparable to what New Zealand employers expect, you can work here temporarily or permanently. Click the links for more information about each category, including application criteria.

  • Specific Purpose Work Visa – your have a work assignment in New Zealand for a fixed period or you , as a NZ employer need someone for a specific project.
  • Accredited Employer Work Visa – You have skills that employers are unable to find in the local labour market
  • Green List Residence Visa – You have specialist skills that allow you to work in New Zealand and apply for residency
  • Student – students doing higher level study can sometimes obtain a part time work right.
  • Working Holiday – You wish to holiday and work part time (ages 18 to 30 or 35, depending on country of origin) This  option is only available to certain nationalities.

What can go wrong with my visa application?

Immigration policies can be complex and difficult to follow, with some rules changing often or being unclear. In our experience, applicants often submit incomplete documentation or fail to make a clear and compelling case that will satisfy the applicable rules.

Keep in mind: The average immigration officer processes a large number of applications at once and will not advise you on the suitability of your application before processing your fee. It is your responsibility to prove to the immigration officer that you meet the criteria for the visa you are applying for.

Common problems that cause applications to be declined include:

  • You apply under a visa category that you are not eligible for
  • Your application does not provide enough evidence to meet the standard that Immigration New Zealand requires
  • Your documentation is incomplete or unsuitable
  • Your case is complex, requiring a more detailed explanation
  • Your explanation of how you meet the criteria for your visa type is unclear
  • There are character or health issues relating to you or accompanying family members that complicate the process.

No refunds are given for applications that are declined – this is true of all categories – so it makes sense to figure out if you’re eligible before you apply and make sure you’re applying for the correct visa type.

If you’re concerned about any of the above issues, consider seeking professional guidance.

How can we help?

People’s dreams of life in a new country are at the heart of everything we do. We use our immigration law expertise to help our clients realise their goals, and we can help you too.

We will:

  • Assess the particulars of your case and advise you on what visa type to apply for
  • Accurately determine your point score so you can lodge a successful EOI
  • Clearly demonstrate to INZ how you meet all the necessary criteria
  • Draft documents to INZ specifications, gather compelling evidence, and lodge your application
  • Liaise with INZ to follow the progress of your application

We can clarify what you need to complete your visa application and help you get it right the first time, saving you time, money, and frustration. Principal lawyer Aaron Martin has decades of experience in helping applicants with complex situations, even reuniting families in the wake of COVID-19 border closures.

Got questions? We can provide expert advice. Need help with your application? We’ll make sure it’s correct and complete, making it easier for INZ to assess your suitability and increasing your chances of approval.

Aaron and the team at NZIL can help make your dream of living in New Zealand a reality. Contact NZIL to discuss how we can help you.

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Need immigration advice?

Feel free to call us with your concerns or make an appointment to see how we can work with you.

We have a fluent Mandarin speaker in our team if you need Chinese language assistance.

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Need a Review of your Case?

If your case is more complex, consider our 60-minute Immigration Clinic. In this one-on-one appointment with immigration lawyer Aaron Martin, you can talk through your specific issues and gain insight on the best approach.

Make an appointment or contact us to see how we can help.