How can I get residency in NZ?

Hawkes bay view from the mountains

How can I get residency in NZ?

New Zealand offers a wide range of different types of visas, some of which lead to residency. Understanding how residency works is important for anyone who is planning to take a long term position at a New Zealand business, or who is planning to stay in New Zealand permanently for another reason.

A resident visa gives the holder the right to live and work in New Zealand indefinitely, and gives them access to public services. However, a resident visa is still technically temporary. This means that if the visa-holder leaves the country after it expires—typically after 2 years—their resident status will be lost. To avoid this, a resident can later apply for permanent residency status.

How to get a resident visa

There are many different ways to obtain residency in New Zealand, the most common of which is reliant on a temporary visa. Some visas, though, offer residency status right away, provided that the applicant meets certain qualifications. The process can unfortunately be confusing and difficult to manage, so it’s a good idea to work with an immigration expert when the time comes to apply. 

Work to Residence
Workers who have lived in New Zealand on a temporary work-to-residence visa for at least 2 years are eligible to apply for a resident visa. To be eligible, applicants need to have worked for an accredited employer in New Zealand for 24 months, or to have held a Long Term Skill Shortage List Work visa for the same length of time. Additionally, most applicants will also need to meet specific health, character, income, age, and skill requirements. 

Other paths to residency
Of course, residency isn’t only available to people working under a temporary work visa. Partners of New Zealanders/residents, investors, and dependent children are eligible to apply for residency directly. The same is true for people with particular skills to contribute to New Zealand’s economic growth, who can apply under the Skilled Migrant Category Visa directly, without first working under a temporary visa. Each of these pathways to residency comes with their own set of qualifications that applicants must meet. The only exception to this is residents or citizens of Australia, who are granted residency in New Zealand upon arrival without any need for an application process.

Qualifying for permanent residency

Residency gives immigrants the right to remain in New Zealand indefinitely, but it only allows the holder to leave and return to New Zealand for the first two years. After the visa expires, the holder should apply for permanent residency. This allows the applicant to remain in New Zealand indefinitely, and to travel in and out of the country without restrictions. 

To be eligible, applicants need to be of good character, to have held a resident visa for at least 2 years, and to show commitment to living in New Zealand permanently. This commitment can be shown in a variety of ways, including becoming a tax resident, owning a business, investing in the country, or simply spending time and building a life here.

Applying for residency is an important step in permanently establishing yourself in New Zealand, and it’s important to get it right. Because of this, it’s a good idea to work with a legal expert to ensure that your application is as strong as it can be, and that it’s submitted correctly. 

To get in touch with our immigration experts today, call us at 06 561 0837 or contact us online.

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