A brief guide to choosing the right visa for New Zealand
Wondering which visa do I need for New Zealand? Finding the right visa to enter NZ can be confusing. The information is really hard to dissect sometimes. So here, I have broken down the most commonly used visas for you to understand. If you are wondering how to get a visa just for visiting New Zealand or wondering how you can stay for longer periods as well, read on for some info and links.
Disclaimer: I am not an immigration agent or someone claiming to know all about this subject. I am offering an informal rundown for my readers/friends of what visa options might be there for you. Make sure to check all the linked sources for the official information. The information is subject to often changing.
You can stay in New Zealand for up to 9 months on a Visitor visa and you can study for up to 3 months. You need to have enough money to support your stay in the country. Depending on which country you are from, you may need to apply for this visa.
If you are from certain countries, you do not need to apply, this is called a Visitor Waiver Visa and the countries that are wavered are listed in this link: Visitor Visa Waiver Countries
The visitor visa application will be around $165 NZD but the Visitor Visa Waiver is free and will be granted upon entry to New Zealand.
If you want to stay longer you will need to apply for another visitor visa or obtain a work or study visa.
If you want to study in New Zealand for more than 3 months, the Student Visas available for those over 18 are:
The Fee Paying Student Visa, Exchange Student Visa, Foreign Government Supported Student Visa and the Pathway Student Visa.
You can usually work for 20 hours a week on these visas and full time during the holidays.
For all the student visas check out the info HERE
Working Holiday Visa
If you want to come and work in New Zealand, you aged between 18-30 or 18-35 (depending on the country) and you are from one of the countries listed on THIS PAGE, you are eligible for a NZ Working Holiday Visa. This visa allows you to be in the country for up to 24 months and work for 12 of those months in whatever job you please (will have you).
This visa costs about $150 for one year. If you decide to stay for two years on this visa, you will need to undergo medicals in order to be approved to stay longer. (This is the same for all work visas over 12 months). Find out about the Working Holiday Visa HERE.
Job Offer Specific Visas
‘If you already have a job offer, you can come and work in New Zealand, under the following visa types:
Essential Skills Work Visa , Specific Purpose Work Visa, Long Term Skills Shortage List Resident Visa, Post Study Work Visa and Talent Visas as well as others. These are all slightly different for specific purposes, but you can find the information about them here: Job Offer Specific Work Visas NZ
These visas are usually locked to a specific job so you will need to stay in that job for the duration of your visa. The cost varies, so use the Fee Finder to check your costs.
No Job Offer Work Visas
If you do not have a job offer, you are still able to come and work in New Zealand under the following visas:
Specific Purpose Work Visa, Partner of a Student Work Visa, Partner of a Worker Work Visa, Business Visitor Visa, Post Study Work Visa (Open). The Information regarding these visas can be found here to check whether you could be eligible: No Job Offer Work Visas NZ
These visas are not locked to a specific job, so you will be free to look for whatever work you want when in NZ. The cost varies, so use the Fee Finder to check your costs.
I am currently on The Partner of a (New Zealander) Worker Work Visa and you can get all the info about how I completed my application in my post: How I applied for the New Zealand Partnership Work Visa, New Zealand Partnership Visa FAQs and NZ Partnership Visa, How long did it take?.
Work to Residency Visas
Work to residency comes in two categories: The Skills Shortage Work to Residency Visa or the Accredited Employer Work to Residency Visa.
If your temporary work visa is either through the skills shortage list or through an accredited employer and you work with them for 24 months, you will be eligible to apply for the a residency visa under those two categories.
Check the lists to see if you are eligible:
Once you have been living in New Zealand for two years and your work visa includes Work to Residency (see above) , you will likely be eligible to apply for Residency.
You can also apply for a residency visa under the Skilled Migrant Category which uses a points system to see whether you are eligible to move. (as of 19th July 2017 this category has been halted. Check HERE for further updates on this)
Family/Partner Residency visas allow family and partners of New Zealand Residents to join them in New Zealand on a Residency Visa. You can either join them there, or be a secondary applicant on their Residency Visa application. All info can be found HERE
The cost for these applications varies, so use the Fee Finder to check your specific and tailored costs.
Note: I have seen warnings to check the travel terms of your residency visa as these conditions can expire and change depending on your movements. Be fully on the ball with what you are allowed to do!
Permanent Residency Visas
Permanent Residency means you can stay in New Zealand indefinitely and predominantly have the same rights as a NZ Citizen.
Residents who have been in New Zealand for two years and satisfied all the requirements are eligible to apply for permanent residency. As mentioned above, the pathway to Residency, and ultimately Permanent Residency, can be gained through three categories: Skilled Migrancy, a Work Visa or through Partnership and Family Categories.
New Zealand Citizenship
The Final and ultimate stage for living in New Zealand long term is New Zealand Citizenship. You can apply for citizenship if you have lived in New Zealand for 5 years as a resident and intend to continue. You can also get citizenship if one of your parents is a citizen by birth or by grant.
Find out all about this process HERE
I hope my guide to which visa do I need for New Zealand was helpful. Good luck with finding what works for you. I know it can be a long process. For the full list of visas for New Zealand with up to date information: Check HERE
You can check out more of my personal moving to New Zealand advice and tips in the expat section of my blog: EXPAT ADVICE AND TIPS
Got your visa? Moving to Wellington? Check out my post: Where to live in Wellington
You can also check out my post on Living in New Zealand – The Pros + Cons
Thanks for reading and come back soon!