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How to Prepare for a New Zealand Visa Application 2023

Before you start your 2023 NZ visa application, plan where to live, how to support yourself and get the documents needs to meet INZ requirements for your visa.
January 25, 2023
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5
 min read

Before you start your NZ visa application for 2023:

  • Determine where to locate yourself, based on your employment or study options.
  • Figure out how you'll support yourself in NZ.
  • Check what documentation you need to apply for your preferred visa.

Here we take you through some of the basics of preparing for your new NZ visa application for 2023 and some expected changes to come throughout the year.

Planning Your NZ Visa Application

INZ will ask you for a lot of supporting information when you start the visa application process. So stay ahead of the game by learning what you need to gather and then prepare it all in advance.

If you have any doubts about the preparation or actual application process, don't hesitate to contact NZ licensed advisers for expert immigration advice.

Choose Where to Live 

Applications can be based on regional jobs. Choose the best place for you and what suits your intention for coming to NZ. The weather can vary dramatically depending on where you choose, so ensure you study up on where job opportunities are as well as the regions before applying for roles.

Top NZ Cities

The biggest city in New Zealand is Auckland, with 1.5 million people. Auckland has a high cost of living. However, migrants often find this balance by finding NZ jobs that pay well and quickly.

Wellington is not the largest metropolitan area. However, nearly 20% of Wellington's jobs are within government branches and agencies, with many accepting job applications from qualified migrants.

Christchurch is the largest city in NZ's South Island. Despite the unfortunate event of an earthquake in 2011, the city has rebuilt itself and is more robust than ever, with a focus on innovation, offering outstanding employment opportunities.

Hamilton continues to grow in all areas, with new opportunities everywhere. Many Auckland companies have relocated to Hamilton to lower their overheads, increasing chances for migrants to find work.

Dunedin is situated south of the South Island. While it may not offer as many growth opportunities as Auckland, it is well-loved and admired for its lifestyle.

Accommodation Options

Finding accommodation in New Zealand doesn't have to be stressful. Reach out to our experienced immigration advisers for advice and resources.

Read our recent post for tips on finding somewhere to live in NZ, which includes good places to look for accommodation online.

Understand the Cost of Living & Wages

Like anywhere in the world, the cost of living in New Zealand comes with additional expenses on top of your rent.

Cost of Living in New Zealand

The cost of living in New Zealand can depend on your salary and where you decide to live. New Zealand's living costs vary significantly between regions. The most common things included in everyday living expenses, excluding rent, are discussed below.

  • Utility bills are an average of NZ$135 for a single person per month. This includes things like electricity, gas, water, and heating.
  • Transport costs can add up. A licensing (registration) fee for one year costs about NZ$110. A Warrant of Fitness (WoF) can vary in cost but is typically around NZ$50-60. The cost of your own car is also essential to keep in mind. 
  • Food and groceries can be expensive in New Zealand. Eating out in cities like Auckland can cost NZ$110-130 for two people at a mid-class restaurant. Fast-food chains are typically NZ$10-14 per meal. Buying groceries from supermarkets like Pak'nSave and cooking at home is always cheaper.

On average, Auckland's living expenses can cost a single person NZ$1,527 per month, excluding rent. The average cost of rent for a two-bedroom apartment is about NZ$560 per week in a reasonably central suburb like Avondale.   

The cost of living in Wellington is slightly lower than in Auckland. A single person can pay about NZ$1,384 per month on general living expenses, excluding rent. Median rent costs are about NZ$490 per week for a two-bedroom apartment outside central Wellington.

Christchurch is often cheaper than other cities. Average living costs, excluding rent, are NZ$1344. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in central Christchurch is about NZ$450 per week

NZ Net Salary

Migrants looking to move to NZ for work or permanently should understand the basis of New Zealand's salaries. Wages vary by industry and job type, with the median income just under NZ$27 per hour in mid-2021, equivalent to NZ$56,160 per year for a 40-year work week.

For work visa holders, median wage conditions apply, with the median wage increasing to NZ$29.66 on 27 February 2023.

Select Your Visa

No matter what you're looking for, always take advice! Contact the team at Malcolm Pacific Immigration for a free consultation to discuss your needs and explore which visa is best for you.

Work Visas

Work Visas often have strict conditions set out on the visa document itself. Usually, this includes a restriction to work in a particular occupation, for a specific employer and in a particular region of New Zealand. Find out about the different types of NZ Work Visas.

Study In New Zealand

Student Visas may have strict conditions that are set out on the visa document itself. Typically the conditions restrict the student to a particular course of study at an institution and can sometimes include work rights for part-time employment. Learn about the NZ Student Visa options.

Pathways to Residence NZ

Choosing the right visa from the outset if the intention is to move to New Zealand is critical to a smooth transition from Working Visa to a Residency Visa. Any initial mistake or incorrect choice from the beginning could hinder your chances of a successful application. 

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

Family & Partner Visas

If you choose to relocate your partner or entire family, ensure you have selected the appropriate visa to support your partner in employment. 

Various partnership visas allow migrants to work in New Zealand if their partner has an NZ work visa. With some work visas, migrants can typically support the following visas for their partner and dependent children:

  • An open work visa for your partner.
  • A visitor visa for your partner or your children.
  • A student visa for your children.

For more details about the application process, talk to a licensed immigration adviser and discuss your options.

Meet the Visa Requirements

In addition to the requirements outlined on your visa of choice, there are general requirements that are a rule of thumb.

Character

During your application, you must show you are of good character and meet INZ's requirements. 

You must inform INZ about any potential past criminal record or if you have ever provided them with false or misleading information previously. Depending on the issue, INZ offers some solutions to situations as long as you're open and honest with them upfront. For example, INZ can approve a character waiver if your issue is minor, which means INZ can still grant you a residence visa if your application meets all other requirements. This is where advice from an Immigration Adviser is essential. 

Health

INZ requires medical examinations to assess applicants' health and to ensure they meet the standards. 

If you are applying for a visa, you may need a chest x-ray or medical examination to prove your good health. However, depending on your visa, the application will tell you what kind of medical examinations you need to provide.

English Language

You need to speak and understand English for some visas. You can take a test to show INZ that you can use and understand English. Contact licensed immigration advisers for help with finding out which tests we accept and the results you need for your preferred visa.

Get Your Documents Ready

Ensure you have all the documents you need to apply for your NZ visa in 2023. 

Passport

Check your passport to ensure it is valid for travel to NZ in 2023 before you apply for your NZ visa. You must ensure that your passport does not expire:

  • Three months after you plan to leave for New Zealand.
  • One month after you plan to leave New Zealand, if a country issued your passport with an embassy or consulate in NZ that issues passports of that country.
  • If you live in New Zealand permanently.

Ensure that your passport has not been damaged, reported as lost, stolen, or invalidated by the governing issuer.

Gather Your Forms

Your visa will outline what forms you need to gather, such as what you need to check off for your visa application. Remember that getting everything prepared ahead of time will save you unneeded stress. As a part of the application process, remember that once you’ve submitted, the control is in INZ’s hands. Here are the approximate application processing times for specific visas:

  • Employer Accreditation - Straightforward applications aim to be processed in 10 weekdays, excluding public holidays. The average processing time is three weekdays. 90% of applications are processed within 16 weekdays.
  • Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWV) - Straightforward AEWV applications aim to be processed in 20 weekdays, excluding public holidays. The average processing time is 12 weekdays. 90% of applications are processed within 25 weekdays.  
  • Visitor Visas - Applications aim to be processed within 20 weekdays, excluding public holidays. The average processing time is 15 weekdays. 90% of applications are processed within 35 weekdays.  
  • Student Visas - Applications are processed within 29 to 67 days. 90% of applications are processed within 67 days. 75% of applications are processed within 48 days. 50% of applications are processed within 29 days.  
  • Other Work Visas - Applications are processed within 19 to 32 days. 90% of applications are processed within 32 days. 75% of applications are processed within 25 days. 50% of applications are processed within 19 days.  
  • Family Temporary Visas - Applications are processed within 18 days to 12 months. 90% of applications are processed within 12 months. 75% of applications are processed within 61 days. 50% of applications are processed within 18 days.  
  • Working Holiday Visas - Applications are processed within 16 to 52 days. 90% of applications are processed within 52 days. 75% of applications are processed within 25 days. 50% of applications are processed within 16 days.  

The processing time for other visa applications varies significantly.

Book Flights

INZ advises travellers not to book travel until their visas are processed and approved. Entering New Zealand without a visa (as visa waiver visitors) requires you to have valid onward travel arrangements. So, for example, when entering New Zealand, you must have a return ticket or proof that a ticket is booked and paid for. The return ticket must be from New Zealand to a country you can enter.

Keeping Up-To-Date With NZ Visa Changes

This has been a challenging year on multiple fronts as Covid continues to cause disruptions. In addition, there have been many immigration policy changes this year to streamline the previous regime, and we predict more to come in 2023.

INZ regularly releases updates about New Zealand visa applications and changes to the immigration system. You can also keep yourself informed about work visas, employer accreditation and Immigration NZ news by subscribing to our newsletter or contacting our experienced immigration advisers.

The Immigration Rebalance

The Government is rebalancing New Zealand's immigration system by implementing a shift in the future migrant workforce to increase New Zealand's business productivity and rebalance the skills gap to support our economy's growth.

The rebalance is designed to make it easier to attract and employ skilled migrants. It also supports sectors in implementing sustainable employment processes. We have summarised key dates of policy decisions that roll out in 2023.

LIST DATES HERE AS THEY ARE ANNOUNCED BY INZ.

  • 18 January 2023. EOIs for the Skilled Migrant Category will be selected again.
  • 31 January 2023. People who hold a Working Holiday visa but didn't travel due to Covid-19 can get a new visa and are allowed to enter the country.
  • 27 February 2023. The new median wage of NZ$29.66 an hour will be adopted into the immigration system.
  • May 2023. EOIs for Parent Resident visas can be submitted online on the Immigration New Zealand website.
  • August 2023. The first selection of the new EOIs for Parent Resident visas starts and is repeated every three months.

Skilled Migrant Category

EOI selection for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa resumed on 9 November 2022, and INZ selected all EOIs with at least 160 points. However, after 9 November, the points threshold for selection increased to 180 points, which is in place from 18 January 2023, when EOIs are selected again.

Median Wage Increase

INZ announced that the new median wage of NZ$29.66 an hour will be adopted into the immigration system on 27 February 2023.

The NZ Government has made an exception for some sectors. For example, tourism and hospitality have a median wage threshold exemption of NZ$25 per hour until April 2023, with the median wage exception increasing to NZ$28.18 in April 2023. 

Working Holiday Visa NZ

The Government announced changes to increase access to working holidaymakers already in New Zealand and those looking to travel to NZ. From 31 January 2023, people who held a working holiday visa but didn't travel due to Covid-19 can enter the country again, as they would have received an email notification from INZ from October 2022 onwards about their eligibility and ability to get a new visa.

Parent Resident Visa NZ

The Parent Resident Visa restarted on 12 October 2022 and resumed selecting existing expressions of interest (EOIs) on 14 November 2022. 

From May 2023, EOIs can be submitted online on the Immigration New Zealand website.

Any EOIs INZ received from 12 October 2022 went into a ballot, with the first random selection from the ballot in August 2023, then every three months after that.

Get Started On Your NZ Visa Application 2023

Applying for a New Zealand visa doesn't have to be overwhelming. Reach out to our experienced immigration advisers for advice and guidance on the process.

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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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.
January 9, 2023
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.

January 9, 2023
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