Visa News
June 17, 2023

When Can I Apply for NZ Residency?

Determining when you can apply for NZ Residency can be confusing. In this article learn how to calculate when to make your application.
When Can I Apply for NZ Residency?

Do you want to stay in New Zealand permanently? Knowing when to start the process depends on your current visa. Some could mean you are eligible for residency straight away, whilst some temporary visas allowing you to study, work or own your own business may mean you can earn residency after a period of time in the country. 

In this article, we discuss how residency pathways and other factors can affect your application and determine when you can apply for residence in NZ. 


What are the Factors That Can Influence the Application Timing?

Several factors influence the timing of when you can apply for New Zealand residency. They are:

  • Government policy changes
  • The type of visa you have
  • Your country of origin. 
  • Health and character requirements.
  • Documentation requirements

Below we detail these factors, which you may need to consider depending on your circumstance. 


Government Policy Changes on Immigration. 

Like any country, New Zealand's immigration policies are subject to ongoing updates and revisions. These policy changes can substantially impact the duration of the residency visa process and who they accept for residency. 

With the introduction of the Green List in 2022, for example, waiting times for residency were drastically cut for many critical occupations within our Health, Construction and Engineering sectors. Many found they had direct pathways for residency, which allowed them to step off the plane straight into a new life. 

Staying informed about the latest immigration news is crucial to stay aware of any modifications that might affect your application. You can sign up for our newsletter to get up-to-date information about Government policies and waiting times. 

The Type of Visa Affects When You Can Apply for Residency


The Type of Visa Affects When You Can Apply for Residency

The visa you hold significantly affects the timing and your opportunity to apply for residency. New Zealand Immigration has several visa categories for workers who qualify for straight to residency, such as the 'Skilled Migrant' and 'Straight to Residency' whilst 'Work to Residency' and 'Highly Paid' allows you a pathway to residency after completing several years of work in this country. Details of each pathway are discussed below.


Skilled Migrant Category (SMC)

The Skilled Migrant Category is a visa that allows individuals with specific skills, qualifications, and work experience to live and work in the country. It is designed to attract and retain skilled workers who can contribute to New Zealand's workforce and economy. 

This visa is a direct pathway to residency.  

When Can You Apply for the Skilled Migrant Worker Visa?

You can apply for this visa in New Zealand or overseas. However, the crucial factor to consider is whether your qualifications and experience are enough based on the point system.

Applications are based on applying for an Expression of Interest. The EOI registers your interest in applying and details your work experience and qualifications. Immigration NZ will then invite you to apply if you meet the criteria.

The end-to-end process for a successful visa applicant is approximately 6 months.


Getting Your Application Right Will Reduce the Wait. 

The Skilled Migrant Resident visa requires strict conditions and specific evidence to be provided. It is not a small undertaking. While you can complete the application yourself, it is strongly advised to seek the help of an immigration adviser.

If you want help completing the application and a higher chance of your visa being granted, it's wise to employ the services of a licensed immigration adviser right from the start. They will help you organise everything you need so you don't gather unnecessary or unhelpful documentation and waste time. They will also guide you on what evidence is acceptable to Immigration New Zealand and what is more likely to be accepted without question or delay. An immigration adviser can give you peace of mind and support throughout this stressful process, where your future is on the line.

Malcolm Pacific Immigration is here to help you, get in touch for a free consultation today. 


Straight to Residency Visa NZ

Straight Residency Category Visas are granted if an accredited employer employs you or you have received a job offer from one, and your occupation is classified under Tier 1 of the Green List.

Tier 1 Green List occupations are highly skilled workers in critical sectors crucial to the country's economy and development. Please read our article for the complete list of Tier 1 Green List jobs. 


How Long Does it Take to Get a Straight-to-Residence Visa in NZ?

Like the Skilled Migrant Worker Visa, you can apply for this visa from NZ or abroad. As of June 2023, Immigration NZ's average time for processing is 35 days. However, they note that 90% of the applications are within 76 days. Therefore ensuring you have all the resident visa nz requirements and relevant documents on hand before you can ensure you complete the process on your end. 

Applying for a Straight to Residency Visa 6 months before your temporary visa has expired should allow you enough time to ensure you gain an answer. 

Work to Residence (WTR) Category

Work to Residence is a pathway to residence after the completion of 24 months of working in New Zealand. The Tier 2 Green List occupations fall under this type of visa. These are also roles considered important to the country's future development. Please read our article to find the complete list of Tier 2 roles

Applications for this visa will open in September 2023. 

You can apply for this visa if you are currently working for or you have a job offer from an accredited employer. 


Are There Other Types of New Zealand Work Visas that Lead to Residency?

Several other work visas available in New Zealand may lead to residency, including the Accredited Employer Work Visa and the Entrepreneur Work Visa. It should be noted that these pathways do not guarantee successful residency applications.


Your Country of Origin Can Affect Your Application Process. 

Your country of origin may impact the processing time in a few ways:

  1. Document Verification: The duration for verifying and authenticating documents submitted during the application process may differ based on the country. Countries with established document verification systems may have a faster processing time.
  2. Qualification Recognition: Especially for critical health workers, you may find that your qualifications within your own country are not recognised in New Zealand. Depending on your role, you may need to apply to be part of a bridging programme to align your qualifications with this country's qualifications. 
  3. Background Checks: Immigration authorities may conduct background checks to confirm an individual's criminal history, health records, and character references. The amount of time necessary to obtain this information can differ based on the systems of the country and the level of cooperation among authorities.


Passing the Health and Character Requirements for a Resident Visa Application

Demonstration of good character and health is a requirement for all visa applicants. As a requirement for the application process, it is necessary to reveal any present issues or previous actions that might affect the evaluation of your character and good health. Where Immigration NZ needs further information or further tests, you may find a delay in your residency application. If you believe this is an issue for your application, start your application earlier.

Professional Advice about Residency NZ


Ensure Your Documentation Is Correct by Seeking Professional Advice 

Consulting with a licensed immigration adviser will ensure you have the correct documentation to apply for your residency or New Zealand work visas and are applying at the right time for your residency application. 

They can check for accuracy and that you have enough evidence to support your application. This will reduce the chances of Immigration NZ asking for more information or declining your application and help speed up your application process. 


Getting the Right Advice Helps Increase Your Success. 

People who apply for Residence from Work are successful when they get the right immigration advice when applying for their work visa. At the outset, planning a future residence application ensures approval is the most likely outcome.

Working with an experienced licensed immigration adviser on your residency visa application means you can keep checking in to make sure you are still on track to qualify for residence while working over the next few years to qualify. 

Take advice now.

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