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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, making the country a popular expat destination. This InterNations guide offers advice on moving to New Zealand, including information on the economy, visa regulations, and more.
Expats moving to New Zealand should know about the different visa requirements.

New Zealand has two different types of immigration documents — visas and residence permits. While a visa is only valid to enter the country, the corresponding residence permits are given out upon arrival in New Zealand. They come in many different forms, including visitor permits, work permits, and study permits, each with its own criteria and application process.

Holiday or Home?

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. On the website Immigration New Zealand, you can check whether you need to apply for a visa.

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 have to submit a police clearance certificate. This process is necessary regardless of the kind of permit you are applying for.

The Permit Process

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 and work contract signed by a New Zealand employer.

During the application process, the expat-to-be has to provide proof that they’re qualified for the job, while the 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 Labour Market Test. This also examines whether it’s possible to hire a suitably qualified local worker instead of bringing someone in from overseas.

Study, Work, and Explore: The Working Holiday Scheme

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 have the ability to take up temporary jobs during their stay. Recently, the government removed existing quotas, granting even 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, applicants have to provide proof that they have paid the tuition fees. Study permits are only issued for the exact period for which tuition has been paid for in advance. Under certain conditions, study permit holders can take up part-time employment in New Zealand. Some regulations also help students who have received a degree in New Zealand to obtain a work permit more easily.

Are You a Highly Skilled Worker?

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

A minimum of three years of professional education or university studies is also required. A points 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 long-term home.


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