Before travelling to New Zealand, you’ll need to determine what kind of visa is appropriate for you. Depending on the purpose of your stay—tourism, work, study, or immigration— you’ll need to apply for a different corresponding type of visa. The qualifications you need to meet, the rights you’ll enjoy, and the time it takes to process your application all depend on the type of visa you apply for, and your specific circumstances.
Some travellers, such as tourists from visa-waiver countries, don’t need to apply for a visa in advance, while others need to go to significant lengths to verify their identities, good character, health, professional skills, and technical qualifications. To know what kind of visa you should apply for, it’s important to understand the purpose of each type of visa, for whom they are intended, and what’s required to qualify.
Business travellers and tourists from most countries will need to apply for a visitor visa. These can be applied for online.. Unlike other visas, these allow visitors to remain in the country for only a short period of time, and don’t provide holders with the legal right to work or own property in the country.
Citizens of those countries that have international visa-waiver agreements with New Zealand can visit for up to 90 or even 120 days without applying for a visa. Instead, they can apply for an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) online. These are easier, cheaper, and much quicker to obtain than an actual visa.
Student visas are meant to allow foreign students to study at universities in New Zealand, typically with the aim of using their talents to benefit the country’s economy after they graduate. To apply for a student visa, applicants need to show that they have already enrolled at an educational institution and paid full fees. The length of the visa is limited by the amount of time for which fees are paid at the time of application.
Work visas are meant for people who are staying in New Zealand to work in the country. These include post-study work visas, essential skills work visas, and work visas for partners of a New Zealander, certain foreign students, or certain foreign workers. Because there are a number of different reasons for seeking a work visa, the documentation required isn’t always the same. For example, an applicant who is joining a partner will need their partner to support the application.
Certain groups of people, depending upon their particular circumstances, may qualify for Resident Visas. Resident Visas allow them to live and work in the country indefinitely. Residents who have met the conditions of their resident visa and lived trouble-free in the country for more than 2 years can also apply for permanent residency, which allows them to leave the country without losing their residence status.
High net worth individuals have other options when it comes to getting a visa. People who commit to investing a minimum of $3 million NZD in the country over a 4-year period can qualify for an investor visa, provided that they meet other business and language requirements.
Those with $10 million NZD to invest face fewer restrictions in obtaining their visas.
All visas require applicants to prepare and furnish documents to verify their identity and their character. Moreover, all documents need to be in English, and should be translated by a professional or acceptable translator. Immigration law is complicated and visa application requirements are strictly enforced. To ensure that the process for your application is handled properly and as expeditiously as possible, it’s a good idea to seek the support of legal counsel in New Zealand who specialises in immigration law.