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Obtaining a New Zealand visa and pushing on with your plan of moving to New Zealand is a huge step in your life.

However, working out the good and the bad about the country and whether the lifestyle is likely to appeal can be a tough prospect from many thousands of miles away.

A holiday in an exotic location where the hot (and sticky) weather, the language, food, customs, sights and sounds make a wonderful addition to the collection of photos and memories is fantastic but are you always glad to be back home? A holiday is one thing, emigrating to New Zealand is something completely different.

However, New Zealand offers the prospect of familiarity and, perhaps, a distillation of the best bits of home with some unique aspects which really do make it wonderfully 'liveable'.Surveys about the best places to live in the world regularly rank New Zealand and its cities near the very top. Gaining a New Zealand visa offers the prospect of a better lifestyle balance; all the benefits of a modern, sophisticated society but with the friendly, family-orientated focus you want.

In New Zealand immigration is a key part of the national identity but how do you navigate what can seem like a daunting series of categories and sub-categories on your way to obtaining your visa? You may want to simply come to work in New Zealand for a few years, or perhaps settle permanently. You may be moving to New Zealand to be closer to family or you may want to invest or buy an existing business or look for jobs in New Zealand.

The Emigration Store Guide to New Zealand Visas will help you understand how best to approach obtaining a visa, that all important first step to making your dream come true.


Permanent Residence Permit

For those people who want a visa to move to New Zealand permanently, there a several options.

Your application, whatever the category, will be based on your occupation or the skills you have.

Skilled Migrant Category – this visa is for prospective migrants who have the skill, qualifications and experience that New Zealand currently demands.

Work to Residence – as the name implies, this qualifies visa applicants by whether they have the qualifications for occupations currently in demand OR have a current offer of a job from an accredited employer OR have an exceptional talent in sports or arts. This visa category allows you to apply for temporary work visa in anticipation of applying for a permanent residence visa.

For more information, please click here for Work to Residence New zealand visas

Skilled Migrant Category

New Zealand Government: Skilled Migrant Category

This particular category is designed to allow you to move to and work in New Zealand. There are certain criteria you need to meet to be able to apply. You must

  • Be 55yrs old or less
  • Be healthy
  • Be of good character
  • Speak English

Based on these criteria, the government uses a points system, based on age, experience, skills and qualifications to determine your eligibility for a visa.


Skilled Migrant Visa

There are two steps to obtaining a Skilled Migrant Visa.

1. You have to fill in an Expression of Interest or EOI (there is an online option) which gives some general background about you, your family, your skills and your experience.

The form consists of around 35 pages in printed PDF form. The online submission of your EOI will cost NZ$510 and submitting the paper EOI costs NZ$650.

2. If you have enough points (you require 100 points to go into the pool; applications with over 140 points are automatically selected and those between 100 – 130 points where some of the points are for a skilled job or job offer.

Depending on the number of places left available, the government will use additional criteria to select lower-scoring applications. Once the government has accepted your EOI it will send you an Invitation to Apply.

This will then need to be completed and returned to the government with all the required supporting documents. These will take the form of evidence which supports your claim made in the EOI and proof that you, and everyone else on your application meet all the basic health, character and language requirements.

Once you have gathered all the necessary documentation and evidence, you will need to send it off together with your application form and, of course, the fee. You must make your application within 4 months of being invited to apply otherwise any application received after that period will be rejected.

It should be noted that not only will an online visa application be cheaper but it is a faster process.

After the processing there are 3 options:

1. Approval and granting of residence

2. Deferring your application and offering a skilled Migrant category job search visa (in effect a temporary visa allowing you to go to New Zealand to search for work

3. Rejection of your application.

 For more information, please click here for Skilled Migrant NZ visas

Family Residence Visa

If you are planning to move to New Zealand because you have a member of your family who is already a New Zealand citizen or resident, you can apply for a family residence visa.

You can apply on the basis that you are the


Dependent Child


of a New Zealand citizen or resident. There are a variety of temporary visa depending what you want to do - see the government website.

New Zealand Government: Family Visa Categories

If you want to move permanently, you will need a visa unless you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen or resident.

For more information, please click here for Partner NZ visaParent NZ visa or Dependent Child NZ visa

Family Partnership Visa

In order to qualify for this visa you must have been living with your partner for at least 12 months and be in a genuine and stable relationship. Evidence of this can take the form of a marriage certificate, civil union certificate, proof of shared residence such as a joint mortgage or tenancy, your children's birth certificates and a variety of other means to prove long-term stability and commitment.

Your partner in New Zealand will have to provide proof of their right to residency in New Zealand.


Parent Visa

If you are the parent of a New Zealand citizen or resident (who has been resident for at least 3 years) you can apply to join them under the Parent category.

You will need to fill in an Expression of Interest and then, only if you have received an invitation to apply, you can proceed with your application.

The parent category is currently a tiered scheme and you can apply under either a Tier One or Tier Two category. The essential difference is that the first has a higher priority as there are higher income and financial requirements than Tier Two.

In order of priority, Tier One comes first, applications under the previous Family Parent category come second and Tier two applications come last.

Currently, demand for this category exceeds the availability of places. The queue for Tier One applications is currently 6 months, previous category applications are taking up to five years and Tier Two applications are taking about seven years.

For more information, please click here for Parent NZ visas

Dependent Child Visa

If you are regarded as lawfully and permanently resident in New Zealand, you can apply to bring you children to New Zealand as long as

  • They are less than 17yrs old
  • Or aged 18yrs to 24yrs with no children of their own
  • And be born or adopted before your parents applied for residence, and have been declared on your parents' application for residence
  • or be born after your parents applied for residence
  • or be adopted by your parents as a result of a New Zealand adoption or an overseas adoption recognised under New Zealand law.

Along with the usual requirements around good health and good character, the child must be single, completely or substantially dependent on you financially (children under 20 are deemed financially dependent whatever their circumstance).

If your child is under 16yrs old, then they must also provide evidence that the other parent not resident in New Zealand has not had their custody or visitation rights breached if your child comes to New Zealand.

For more information, please click here for Dependent Child NZ visas

Parent Retirement Visa

If you are the parent of a New Zealand citizen or resident, you can apply to join them under this category – unlike the Parent category you will not need to complete an Expression of Interest.

Along with having a New Zealand citizen or resident as an adult child, you must not have additional dependent children and must have sufficient funds and assets, deemed acceptable as an investment, that must be invested for four years.

If your application is approved in principle, you must transfer and invest your total investment funds within 12 months.


Investor/Entrepreneur Visa

In order to attract people who will potentially grow businesses which will employ people and pay lots of corporate taxes, there are a couple of classes of visa aimed at people who have invested in and have been running businesses for a certain period of time. For further information please follow the links below.

New Zealand Government: Investing and doing business in New Zealand

New Zealand Government: Residence for entrepreneurs

For more information, please click here for NZ Investor Visas and NZ Business Visas


Calculating the exact fee payable for your particular application can be done either using the fee calculator tool found on the government website or by downloading the Fee guide on the same page.

New Zealand Government: Fee Toolkit