Visa News

How difficult is it to secure a Permanent Residence Visa in NZ?

Gaining permanent residency in New Zealand is a long and complicated process. We explore the challenges that could affect your application here.

13/10/20213 min read
How difficult is it to secure a Permanent Residence Visa in NZ?

Gaining permanent residency in New Zealand is a long and complicated process, and the threat of Covid-19 has made it even more challenging. We explore the steps to gaining permanent residency and the challenges that could affect your application below. To learn more, read on.

Step 1: Applying for a Resident Visa

The first stage of gaining permanent residency in New Zealand is getting a resident visa. A resident visa allows you to live, study and work in New Zealand indefinitely, but there are conditions to meet in order to apply for a permanent resident visa two years after securing a resident visa. New Zealand has different residence categories that you can apply for a resident visa:

  1. The Family Categories (parent, partnership, dependent child)
  2. The Work to Residence in NZ Category
  3. The Business Categories
  4. The Skilled Migrant Category

The Challenges of Getting a Resident Visa

While there are many pathways to the residence, the process isn’t always simple. There are many challenges that can impact your application or cause prolonged delays.

Long Processing Times

One of the most frustrating parts about applying for a skilled migrant visa in NZ is the waiting period. There are very few immigration officers currently available at Immigration NZ. There are various factors that officers consider before approving an application, making it a very time-consuming process. To make matters worse, applications for resident visas are on pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a huge backlog of resident visa applications waiting to be processed, causing unprecedented delays in the immigration process.

Lack of Flexibility

There is not a lot of flexibility when it comes to resident visa applications. If you don’t meet the specified requirements outlined in the visa category, your application will not be accepted. For example, applying for a partnership visa can be particularly challenging, because the legitimacy of relationship can be hard to prove along with how long you have lived with your New Zealand partner.

Strict Health Requirements

Your health may also affect whether you are granted a resident visa. All applicants must prove that they are of an acceptable standard of health and are not a threat to public health. Some of these rules are quite outdated and don’t keep up with our changing health system, so this can be difficult to manage too.

High Character Standards

To gain residency in NZ, you must meet the character requirements set out by Immigration NZ. If evidence shows that you are not of good character, your application may be declined. A police certificate from your country of citizenship is usually required to provide evidence of no criminal offences and in some cases, these certificates may be required from a number of countries. Even if you have less serious character offences, you may need a character waiver before your application is approved. This can make it a challenge for many to get residency.

Step 2: Gaining Permanent Residence

A permanent resident visa offers many more privileges and freedoms than a resident visa. As a permanent resident, you will be allowed to travel in and out of New Zealand as you please (under the Covid-19 restrictions of course). To gain permanent residency, you must demonstrate a ‘commitment’ to New Zealand through one of the following criteria:

  1. Spend 184 days in New Zealand in each of the first two years from the first date of becoming a resident.
  2. Establish a ‘base’ in NZ – for example, you’ve bought a home within the first 12 months of becoming a resident and lived in NZ for 41 days in your second year.
  3. Maintain an investment of NZD 1 million for two years.
  4. Be a tax resident confirmed by Inland Revenue and spend time in New Zealand.
  5. Establish a business in NZ and show that it is profitable or benefitting NZ.

You and your family must also be of good character. Convictions may occur after a resident visa is granted but before a permanent resident visa is applied for. These need to be disclosed and may affect eligibility. Likewise, a conviction within 10 years of first becoming a resident may affect permanent residence status.

These are highlights of the criteria for becoming a Permanent Resident. Take professional advice to establish your eligibility and plan ahead.

How a Licensed Immigration Adviser Can Help:

Speak to Malcolm Pacific Immigration Today

Gaining permanent residency in New Zealand can be complex, but with the help of NZ licensed immigration advisers, the process can be made simple and straightforward. At Malcolm Pacific Immigration, we have the knowledge and expertise to solve a range of complicated immigration issues. Contact us today for professional visa assistance.

Latest Updates

Our team keep ahead of all the latest immigration developments and post updates regularly. Stay up to date by signing up to our newsletter and get these updates directly to your inbox.


The Green List

From September 2022 people holding job offers in a small number of occupations may apply for residence. Some occupations are a direct pathway to residence and others require a period of two years or longer before applying.

There are qualification and/or occupational registration requirements to meet. Establishing if an overseas qualification matches the NZ equivalent qualification before applying is paramount for success.

Read more here.

16 May 22

Work Visa Categories Closing

The work visa categories set to close are:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa – approval in principle
  • Work to Residence (Talent – Accredited Employer)
  • Work to Residence (Long Term Skills Shortage)
  • Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa (closed October 2019)
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Work Visa.
10 Feb 22

Policy Decision Key Dates in 2022

  • February 13. Fully vaccinated Kiwis plus certain other travellers entering NZ from the rest of the world* can skip MIQ.
  • April 30. The border starts a phased reopen to fully vaccinated foreign nationals.
  • April 30. The Productivity Commission reports back to the government on immigration settings.
  • May 9. Applications open for mandatory Employer Accreditation.

*Excludes high-risk countries.

16 Dec 21