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Moving to New Zealand?

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New Zealand at a Glance

Visa Requirements for New Zealand

Thousands of people from around the world head out to New Zealand every year in order to live and work there for a few years, making the country a popular expat destination. The InterNations expat guide offers advice on moving to New Zealand, including info on the economy, visa regulations, and more.

New Zealand has two different types of immigration documents – visas and residence permits. While a visa is valid only to enter the country, the corresponding residence permits are given out upon arrival in New Zealand. They come in the form of visitor permits, work permits, study permits, and other sorts of residence permits, each involving different rights and duties for the holder.

Visitor and Residence Permits

Depending on your country of origin, you may be able to travel to New Zealand as a temporary visitor without a visa for up to 3 months. You will receive a visitor permit once you have been admitted to the country.

In all other cases, you need to apply for your residence permit beforehand. For a stay of 24 months or more, you are required to undergo health examinations and may be obliged to hand in a police clearance certificate. This process is necessary regardless of the kind of permit you are applying for.

Work Permits

Taking up any kind of employment requires a work permit. Work permits are usually only granted to applicants who already have a confirmed job offer as well as a work contract signed by a New Zealand employer.

During the application process, the expat-to-be has to provide proof of their qualifications for the job, while the future employer has to show that it was impossible to find a New Zealander for the position in question. Before granting a permit, authorities conduct what is called a Labor Market Test. It, too, examines the possible availability of qualified workers on the local labor market.

Visa for Young Expats

A very popular way for young people to explore New Zealand is the Working Holiday Scheme. Foreign nationals between 18 and 30 years of age can receive a 12-month visa and work permit to travel around the country. They finance their stay by taking up odd jobs along the road. Recently, the government removed existing quotas, granting many more young adventurers this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Those planning to study in New Zealand have to obtain a study permit. In addition to a confirmed place at a higher education institution in the country, applicants have to provide proof of having paid the tuition fee. Study permits are only issued for the exact period for which tuition has been paid in advance. Under certain conditions, holders of study permits can take up part time employment in New Zealand. Some regulations enable those students who have received a degree in New Zealand to attain a subsequent work permit more easily.

Visa for Highly Skilled Workers

Finally, each year New Zealand grants a certain number of highly-skilled workers the opportunity to settle in the country as permanent residents. The three basic requirements for permanent residence include good health, what is generally referred to as good character (proven by a police clearance certificate), and good English language skills.

A minimum of 3 years of professional education or university studies is also required. A point system awards points for English language ability, employability factors, and settlement factors. It is then determined which applicants will be given the possibility to make New Zealand their new long-term home.

InterNations Expat Magazine