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New Zealand Resident Visa Options: The Pathway to Residence

New Zealand is an attractive destination to immigrate to due to its temperate weather and safe environment. Learn more about your pathway to residence.
September 13, 2022
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5
 min read
New Zealand Resident Visa Options: The Pathway to Residence

New Zealand is a tempting destination to immigrate to due to its temperate weather, beautiful sceneries, and safe environment to live in. It provides promising job opportunities to newbies as well as experienced workers. ‍

Many individuals dream about starting a new life in New Zealand. A New Zealand resident holding a resident visa is comparable to a New Zealand citizen, with only one exception. New Zealand residents may have limitations set on their travel in and out of the country until they can claim either a permanent resident visa or citizenship and travel freely. ‍

When considering your pathway to residency, the visa you can apply for depends on what type of career you have or your relationship with a New Zealand citizen or resident. There are visa options that will allow you to gain residency after two years of work (work to residence visa NZ) and residency straight away if you are considered a critical worker.‍

There are criteria you may have to meet for each visa, for example, the time in the country, who you work for in New Zealand and having to earn a minimum salary to get a resident visa. So it's important to consult with qualified licensed Immigration advisers to ensure you are set up for a successful application. 

What Is the Difference Between a Resident Visa and a Permanent Resident Visa?‍

A resident visa grants you the right to live in New Zealand for the period stated on your visa. You have access to the health, education and voting systems in the country. However, as the holder of a resident visa, you will need to apply for another visa when the travel conditions expire.‍

After a period of time, the holder of a resident visa can apply for a permanent resident visa. This allows the individual to enter the country freely without time limitations. A resident wishing to make their stay here permanent must demonstrate that they have committed to living in New Zealand to be accepted as a permanent resident. This may be through a financial or business investment or the time they have resided in the country. The time interval between holding a resident visa and then applying for a permanent residency is generally 24 months or more. ‍

For more information and advice on this and how to start your personal pathway to residency, talk to one of the best firms of immigration advisers, Malcolm Pacific Immigration.

What Are the Different Visa Options as Pathways to Residency in New Zealand?

Gaining a resident visa is the gateway to permanent resident visas and, in the future, a New Zealand citizen. There are multiple avenues that you can take to apply for residency. ‍

Understanding what is best for you can feel like a minefield. However, taking advice from professionals can help reduce that stress. 

The Fast-Track to Permanent Residency

There are a handful of opportunities that allow you to become a permanent resident without the mandatory first steps of working to gain residency. These are:

Partner of a New Zealander Resident Visa

If your partner is a citizen of New Zealand and they live in New Zealand as well, then you can apply for this visa. Your partner must support your application to obtain this residency visa 

Minimum Requirements: 

  • Your partner must hold New Zealand citizenship or a resident visa.
  • You must provide evidence that you have been living together for at least 12 months and are in a genuine relationship
  • If you have lived together for more than 5 years outside New Zealand, then you may be entitled to a permanent resident visa straight away.

Parent Retirement Resident Visa

If you are a parent to an adult child who is either a citizen or a resident of New Zealand and wish to move with them, then this visa could be the right option for entry. There is a mandatory investment of money you will need to make in New Zealand and have funds to support yourself. This application can be best guided by immigration advisers. 

Minimum Requirements:

  • A grown-up child who is a resident or citizen of New Zealand.
  • An annual income of $60,000 NZ with an extra NZ $1 million for a 4-year investment. If you succeed in completing this 4-year investment duration, then you will be qualified for permanent residence.
  • An additional $500,000 NZ is required for living. These funds do not have to be transferred to NZ. 

Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa

You can apply for this visa if you have the skills and proficiency to grow the economy of New Zealand. You can include your partner as well as dependent children in this visa. If you are self-employed, then this visa isn't for you. If your application for this visa is successful, then you can live in New Zealand permanently.

Minimum Requirements:

  • Your age should be 55 years or below.
  • You have to send an Expression of Interest (EOI) which tells us more about your credentials, work experience, and career in New Zealand. Your EOI is assessed on the point-based system. EOIs with 160 points or more are normally selected. 
  • This Skilled Migrant category is under review; changes are expected when it reopens soon. 

What Temporary Visas Are Pathway to Residency in New Zealand?

Different types of visas give you residency in New Zealand for a certain period. These visas have a specific time limit with some distinct conditions that you must follow. If you are planning to make New Zealand your permanent home, it is important to choose the right visa so that you have a pathway to residence and potentially citizenship in the future. 

Work to Residency Visas

Talent Work Visa NZ

If you have an outstanding international talent in fields like art, sports, or culture and want to live in New Zealand, then this visa will support that. It falls into the category of work to residence visa NZ

If you complete two years working in your field in NZ, this will help you obtain a permanent resident visa, including your partner and dependent children. This visa allows you to live in New Zealand for approximately 30 months and apply for residence after 24 months. 

Minimum Requirements:

  • You must be 55 years old or below.
  • A New Zealand association that has recognised your talent should support you to get this visa.
  • A sponsor who acknowledges the distinction in your talent.

Entrepreneur Work Visa NZ

This visa will help you launch your own business in New Zealand. This is also a type of work-to-residence visa NZ which first gives you the opportunity to start a business and, based on its success, can lead to permanent residency. ‍

Minimum Requirements: 

  • An approved business plan and view of the future of your business.
  • A minimum of NZ $100,000 for investment.

The approval is based on the business being deemed ‘a substantial benefit’ for New Zealand. To understand more about what Immigration NZ looks for when approving this visa application talk to an Immigration adviser for impartial, professional advice, as this visa has a very high failure rate.  ‍

When Will I Be Eligible for a Permanent Residency Visa?

In general, it's not just about time; it’s about fitting the criteria. 

  • You must hold a resident visa for 2 years or more.
  • You need to show a commitment to New Zealand (this is measured in various ways, including time in the country; or investments; or tax residence status - take advice for more detail).
  • You need to maintain a good character.

A Few Takeaways

It is the dream of many individuals to settle and live in New Zealand permanently. New Zealand immigration can provide clear pathways to gain a resident visa or even a permanent resident visa for migrants.

It can be a complicated, time-consuming process, and that's where Malcolm Pacific Immigration can make a difference. Talk to us today for more information.

Get started with a FREE consultation today

Our highly experienced licensed Immigration team will take away the stress and worry of navigating the complicated world of New Zealand Immigration. All you need to do is get in touch. Our team is on standby, ready to help.

Get started with a FREE consultation today

Our highly experienced licensed Immigration team will take away the stress and worry of navigating the complicated world of New Zealand Immigration. All you need to do is get in touch. Our employer team is on standby, ready to help.

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.

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

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Update

Migrant Worker Residence

Today the government announced a pathway to residence for migrant workers who are living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave who are eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else they will miss out on this one off opportunity.

July 8, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrants Opportunity

Today the government announced a pathway to residence for people living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else you miss the boat.

July 8, 2022
Update

New Employer Accreditation Process

The government has moved the introduction of the new employer accreditation process across to mid-2022. At the same time, the Minister of Immigration announced new work visa rules for migrant workers who are already in New Zealand and working full time.

July 8, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government has increased the median wage to $27 per hour from 19 July. Any Skilled Migrant residence application lodged after this date will need to include a skilled job offer that pays at least $27 per hour. For some lower-skilled occupations, the minimum pay rate increases to $40.50 per hour.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 19 July 2021

  • The median wage used to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications increases from $25.50 per hour to $27 per hour.
  • Applicants paid below the median wage may be granted a work visa for up to 24 months. The usual 6-month visa validity restriction is suspended until mid-2022.
  • In certain cases, the labour market test is waived and in some cases, it will still apply.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 30 June 2021

  • Employer Accreditation and Approval in Principle applications are now closed.
  • No new Employer Accreditation applications (including renewals) will be accepted until the new process goes live in mid-2022.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Employer Accreditation Becomes Mandatory

Employers of migrant workers must become accredited from 1 November 2021 before work visa applications can be processed. Most employers are not accredited. Those that are accredited will have to roll into the new system when it goes live in late September.

July 8, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From mid-2020 (delayed)

  • Government to negotiate and introduce Industry Sector agreements setting minimum conditions for industries that heavily rely on overseas workers. Sectors include; residential care, meat processing, dairy, forestry, road freight transport, tourism, and hospitality. Construction, horticulture, and viticulture may also be included.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

Skilled occupation "Dairy Cattle Farmer" spilt into three occupations. New occupations are: "Dairy Farm Manager", "Assistant Dairy Farm Manager" and "Dairy Herd Manager". Each sit at different skill levels, therefore, the award of points will depend on pay rates, job tasks and other requirements.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 15 February 2021

  • Dairy Cattle Farmer job offers are now assessed by three new occupation descriptions: Dairy Farm Manager, Assistant Dairy Farm Manager and Dairy Herd Manager. Pay rates and job tasks will determine how long a work visa is valid. Take advice.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool for six months (to be reviewed in April 2021). Invitations to Apply for Residence remain suspended. The last selection from the Skilled Migrant pool took place on 18/03/2020.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 7 October 2020

  • Introduction of "Oversupply" and "Undersupply" occupation lists used to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications when a job offer pays less than the median wage.
  • Employers offering jobs to migrant workers where an occupation is on the "Oversupply" list will not get Skill Match reports issued by Work & Income. Solid evidence of genuine attempts to find a local to fill the job will be critical for approval.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government added four new occupations that are now regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. These are:

Aged or disabled carer, Bicycle mechanic, Driller and Nursing Support worker.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 27 July 2020

  • Essential Skills work visa applications are now assessed based on the current median wage (NZD $25.50 or more per hour.).
  • Job offers paying below the median wage require employers to pass the labour market test* and secure a Skills Match Reports from WINZ (work visas granted for a maximum of 6 months).

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

Anyone invited by Immigration NZ to apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category where their invitation is dated between 1 November 2019 and 15 April 2020 (inclusive) has now been granted an additional six months to lodge their residence application.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 27 May 2020​

  • Regional Skill Shortage List goes live. 15 regions around New Zealand list occupations reflecting local skill shortages in each region. The labour market test is not mandatory provided the job offer matches the occupation and region plus the visa applicant has qualifications and/or work experience set out on the list.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool. This means Invitations to Apply for Residence are also suspended. Malcolm Pacific Immigration does not anticipate selections to resume until after the general election held on 17 October 2020.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

Immigration NZ is now prioritising Skilled Migrant Residence applications where the main (principal) applicant meets the criteria:

  • Has employment paying double the median wage which is currently NZD $51 per hour OR NZD $106,800 per annum; OR Has New Zealand occupational registration and is required to hold valid registration to lawfully carry out their job.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 24 February 2020

  • Wage or salary thresholds increase for Essential Skills Work Visas applications lodged on or after 24/02/2020 (labour market tested; read more here).
  • Higher Skilled employment increases to $38.25 or more per hour ($79,560 per annum*)
  • Mid Skilled Employment increases to $21.68 or more per hour ($45,094 per annum*)

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 7 October 2019

  • Base salary to qualify for a Work to Residence Visa (WTR) supported by an accredited employer increases from $55,000 per annum to $79,560 per annum (or $38.25 per hour).
  • Pay rates for WTR visas are now reviewed annually.
  • Work visa applicants paid less than $79,560 per annum by accredited employers need to apply under other work visa categories.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government recently added more occupations that are now to be regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. In order to qualify for points, the job must be paying at least the current median wage (or higher for certain occupations) at the time the residence application is lodged.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 1 November 2021

  • Work to Residence Visa (Accredited Employer and Long Term Skill Shortage) applications close.
  • Applications lodged on or before 31 October 2021 will be processed under current visa settings.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Mandatory Vaccination Required for Travel

From 1 November 2021 anyone who is not a NZ citizen must be fully vaccinated (unless exempt) before travelling to New Zealand. Fully vaccinated means your last dose of vaccine was given at least 14 days before travelling and it was an approved vaccine.

July 8, 2022
Update

Employer Accreditation

Applications for employer accreditation closed at the end of June 2021. Applications lodged before the closure date are still being processed. New applications for accreditation open on 9 May 2022. The process will be quite different to what employers have experienced in the past. Businesses will need to meet minimum standards.

July 26, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

Wednesday, 1 December is fast approaching and it is estimated that around 16,000 individuals and families can apply in the first wave for the 2021 Resident Visa opening next month. It is exciting for the thousands of people who have been waiting patiently to become residents that finally the finish line is in sight.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The first wave of applicants can apply from 1 December 2021. Around 16,000 applications are expected in this first wave. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. In total, the government expects approximately 110,000 applications that will include about 165,000 people.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The second group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 March 2022 are those who hold an eligible work visa and either meet "Settled", "Skilled" or "Scarce" as set out above. In total Immigration NZ estimate around 110,000 people will qualify to apply for this visa.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The first group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 December 2021 are those that on 29/09/2021:

  • Had lodged a residence application under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) or Residence from Work category; OR Had lodged an SMC Expression of Interest (EOI) in the SMC pool that included at least one dependent child aged 17 or above.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

Is this the only requirement to qualify for residence? No. In addition to the eligible work visa criteria workers also need to be regarded as one of the following:

  1. Settled.
  2. Skilled.
  3. Scarce.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

People who were lawfully in NZ (or in Australia when the travel bubble closed between April and July 2021) on 29/09/2021 need to meet the visa eligibility criteria:

  • Workers in NZ who held an eligible work visa on or before 29/9/2021 and on the day they apply for residence; OR Applied for an eligible work visa on or before 29/9/2021 and the work visa application is subsequently approved and still hold an eligible work visa on the day they apply for residence.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The government has introduced a limited pathway to residence for people who are already living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave of people eligible to apply. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. The deadline to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa is 31 July 2022.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Critical Purpose Visitor Visas

A small number of critical health workers (taking up jobs for six months or longer) or specialist workers (taking up jobs that are for longer than six months) who were granted border exemptions may also have eligibility for the 2021 Resident Visa. They will need to have arrived in NZ and lodge a 2021 Resident Visa application.

Read more here.

July 12, 2022
Update

Policy Decision Key Dates in 2022

  • July 4. Applications open for the new Accredited Employer Work Visa.
  • July 31. Applications for the 2021 Resident Visa close.
  • August. Skilled Migrant Residence category scheduled to reopen.
  • August. A new pathway to residence for people earning 200% or more of the median wage.

*Excludes high-risk countries.

July 8, 2022
Update

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.

July 8, 2022
Update

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.
July 8, 2022
Update

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.

July 12, 2022
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