New Zealand’s VISA requirements

Before you plan for a new life to the land down under make sure that you know your legal situation. Unless you’re from Australia you will need a visa/work permit or residence permit to enter the country legally.

Citizens of certain countries can enter New Zealand via a VISA waiver scheme, which allows them to travel to and in New Zealand without the need of a visitor’s VISA or the news to obtain a visitors permit upon arrival.

Currently, countries that operate the VISA waiver scheme are: Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kiribati, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Nauru, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Qatar, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tuvalu, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the UK, Uruguay, the USA (except for nationals from American Samoa and Swains Island), Vatican City and Zimbabwe. Everyone else needs a visitor’s visa to travel to New Zealand and you won’t even be allowed to board a plane to New Zealand without one.

As a citizen of the UK you can stay in New Zealand for up to six months without the need for a VISA, any longer then you will have to apply for one from a government office.

If you opt to enter the country via the VISA waiver scheme then you must have a valid return ticket, passport valid for three months beyond the period of time they wish to leave and enough money to support yourself (normally around $1000 if alone) or $400 if staying with relatives or friends. If you meet those criteria then you will be granted a visitors permit upon your arrival. You can only stay in the country until for the period of time the visitor permit is valid for. Upon departing for New Zealand you will have to complete a form and card application which acts as an application for a visitor permit, which should be ready by the time you arrive in the country.

Below are some of the main VISAs for expats:

Skilled Migrant Visa

The main VISA someone seeking to live and work in New Zealand needs is the skilled migrant visa. To qualify for a long term visa in this category the applicant must be between the ages of 20 and 55, be able to speak good English, be in good health and have proof that you are of good character. There are a number of work areas suffering from a skills shortage in New Zealand. These include engineering, healthcare, plumbers and electricians. To get a complete list of needed jobs look at the New Zealand immigration website at

When applying for a Skilled Migrant VISA you must pass a point’s based test. You claim points for different aspects of your application, such as work experience and qualifications. These details are entered into a pool if you have a point’s score of more than 100. Anything below that level is automatically rejected, but you are not prohibited from entering another expression of interest at a later date. Those who have more than 140 are automatically given an invitation to apply. Any applications between 100 and 140 are invited to apply if immigration quotas have not reached their limit.

The Invitation to Apply is the next stage and it is at this point that you will need to supply proof of work experience and qualifications. You will also need medical certificates and proof that you do not have a criminal record. You may need to prove that you have a good working knowledge of the English language. The information you provide at this stage must match the information given in the expression of interest. It is at this stage that you are assessed for suitability for residency. There is a possibility that at this stage you will be invited to attend an interview.

There are various outcomes when your application is processed. You may be granted a full residency permit straight away, allowing you to live in New Zealand permanently or you could be granted a work or residence permit. However once those permits end there is no guarantee that you will be allowed to remain a resident afterward.

Business Visa

Another category which may apply to those wishing to live and work in New Zealand is that of business. You can apply under this category if you wish to set up your own business or invest in an existing business. If you are an investor you can apply for a residence visa, or a visitor’s visa which lasts for two years. Those who want to buy an existing business or set up a business can apply first for a Long Term Business Visa and then apply for residency under the Entrepreneur policy. For both of these categories an application pack can be obtained from the New Zealand Immigration department, either as a download or by mail.

Becoming a citizen of New Zealand

For an Expat the ultimate goal is normally to be accepted as a permanent citizen in their country of choice.

To qualify to be a citizen of New Zealand the candidate you must have been a permanent resident for five years, be over 18, have a basic grasp of the English language, be capable of understanding the nature of their citizen application and understand the responsibilities of becoming an Australian citizen. You must attend a citizenship ceremony and take an oath or affirmation of allegiance. Children born of New Zealand residents automatically become New Zealand citizens and can hold dual nationality where permitted under the law of their parents’ countries of birth or nationality.

Exceptions are applied for the following, permanent residents not present in New Zealand but engaged in activities beneficial to New Zealand, spouses, widows, widowers of New Zealand citizens (who normally need to have been resident only for the 12 months prior to their application) and various others. In certain cases, such as that of spouses/widows/widowers of New Zealand citizens, applicants must show that they would suffer significant hardship or disadvantage if they weren’t granted citizenship.