Visitor Visa information.

This article is about Immigration Policy but is not a description of policy.


A visitor visa allows entry to New Zealand for a limited period of time, without the right to study, work, or reside in New Zealand.


A visitor visa will always have an expiry date. It is the traveller’s responsibility to comply with any conditions (even if the visa has been issued electronically, rather than in the passport) and to leave by the expiry date (or obtain an extension.)


Because it is the most temporary of visas, a visitor visa is often associated with few conditions if the traveller is from “low risk” counties, although travellers from “high risk” regions may find themselves required to apply in advance and meet rigorous standards.


All travellers represent some degree of “risk” to the host nation. In the case of persons coming to New Zealand permanently or to work, or visiting from “high risk” regions; that “risk” is managed by requiring detailed documentation in advance, which can be verified before arrival. In the case of visitors from “low risk” counties, however, the “risk” is managed through the discretion of front line Immigration officers, supported by powerful data bases linked globally among major western nations. These are fearsome; both in their power, and in their capacity to sometimes get it wrong.


Perceived “risks” can range from a “risk” that a traveller may undertake unauthorized work, or become illegal, or may be entering for marriage, not holiday; through to having undisclosed criminal convictions or being a terrorist. 


This system works very well at protecting New Zealand and most travellers suffer little inconvenience, but every day, dramas unfold at airports, out of sight of the general public, as unprepared travellers find themselves caught in webs of suspicion, sometimes justified, but also, sometimes the result of error or misplaced assumption.



What should you do?


  • Book your travel early. Check with your travel agent, or a New Zealand government web site to see if a person of your nationality is able to come to New Zealand “visa free” (visa free passports must apply online for an electronic travel authority at least 72 hours before travelling to New Zealand), or whether you need to apply for a visa in advance. The lists change. Only rely on up-to-date official information.

  • Be honest. Do not try to be clever.

  • If you have any historical issues such as criminal convictions (even if minor), health issues, or prior visa or border refusals, consult a Licensed Immigration Adviser for help.

  • Make it your business to know any conditions or expiry dates associated with whatever visa you hold or are given. (Visas may be in your passport or electronic but you are always expected to know what conditions and expiry date applies).

  • If you need to extend or modify your visa after arrival, get the help of a professional.


Good general advice is: avoid coming to New Zealand on a short term visitor’s visa if your real intention is to do something else like getting work, getting married, or staying longer. It is tempting to think; “I’ll come on a visitor’s visa and sort the issues out when I get there”; but the risk is that Immigration New Zealand thinks you are trying to “trick them” and the consequences of that can be very severe. Be honest with Immigration New Zealand. If you have a problem, talk to Malcolm Pacific Immigration.