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Visa Options For New Zealand

New Zealand Visa
If you are considering visiting, working in or moving to New Zealand there are a range of options for visas depending on your citizenship, the purpose of your move and how long you want to spend there.

Visitor Visa

You can apply for a Visitor Visa if you want to go to New Zealand as a tourist, visit family and friends, or study a short course.  You can stay up to nine months in New Zealand.  You will need enough money to support yourself and everyone included in your application during your stay.  You must show that you’re a genuine tourist or visitor and intend to leave New Zealand at the end of your stay and have enough money to live on while you’re in New Zealand or have an acceptable sponsor.  You must have a ticket to leave New Zealand or be sponsored for the cost of your onward travel.

The visa is valid for two years from the approval date.  The visa can be used to travel to New Zealand an unlimited number of times, but each stay can only last a maximum of 3 consecutive months. During each 12-month period you can stay in New Zealand for a total of 6 months.

Visa Waiver Programme

You can enter New Zealand under the Visa Waiver programme if you are from a visa waiver country and want to visit New Zealand for a short period of time.  You can stay for up to three months under this programme (or six months if you are from the UK).  You must have a ticket out of New Zealand and enough money for your stay.  You must be in good health and of good character.

You apply for the visa waiver when you arrive in New Zealand and can bring your family.

The visa waiver enables you to visit New Zealand as a visitor you may also be able to take part in business or research activities.

Working Holiday Visa

If you are between 18 and 30 and want to spend time in New Zealand and work while there to fund your trip the Working Holiday visa is available provided you come from a country with a Working Holiday Agreement with New Zealand.

A Working Holiday visa allows you to stay for 12 months (there is also a 23-month option for UK and Canadian citizens) and you can work for the period (or study or train for up to 6 months).

if you’ve been working in the horticulture or viticulture industries for 3 months, you may be able to apply for a Working Holiday Extension Work Visa while you’re in New Zealand.

You cannot bring any dependents with you and any partner will need to qualify and apply independently.

You need to show that you can support yourself and have at least NZ $4,200 to live on during your stay in New Zealand and enough money to buy a ticket home. You must also have full medical insurance for the length of your stay.

Business Visa

You can apply for a business visa if you want to come to New Zealand for business reasons and you don’t need to stay for any more than 3 months in any one year.

You must show that you’re a genuine business visitor and intend to leave New Zealand at the end of your stay and you must have enough money to live on while you are in New Zealand, or have the financial support of your employer.  You must also have a ticket to leave New Zealand or be sponsored for the cost of your onward travel

Working in New Zealand

Over recent years New Zealand’s employment growth has been driven by construction activity in Canterbury following the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.  The New Zealand government indicates that construction has recently played a less dominant role but employment is expected to remain strong.  They advise that recent growth has been in manufacturing, mostly in food production, machinery and equipment manufacturing, and textile manufacturing and that business services and construction are expected to continue to drive employment in the short term.

Resident visas allow you to live and work in New Zealand indefinitely and access most publicly funded services or there are Temporary visas that allow you to live and work in New Zealand for a set period of time. This can be used as a step towards gaining residence and settling there permanently.

There are a range of work visas for people that work in a profession that is experiencing skill shortages or have a job offer from a New Zealand employer.

Essential Skills Work Visas

If you have specialist skills and qualifications that are equivalent to those in New Zealand where there is a shortage or demand in New Zealand you may be able to obtain an Essential Skills Work Visa.  The New Zealand Immigration website has a skills shortage list checker that you can use to identify whether your skills are in demand.  If your skill is listed your employer does not have to demonstrate that they have tried to recruit a New Zealander.

If the skill is not listed an employer can still recruit a migrant provided that they can demonstrate that they have advertised the role and been unable to recruit a New Zealander.

Residence Visas

If you wish to live permanently in New Zealand, you will need to get one of the visas that qualify you for residence.

Skilled Migrant Category

The Skilled Migrant Category uses a points system based on factors such as age, work experience, your qualifications, and an offer of skilled employment to determine eligibility.

An Essential Skills Work visa does not lead directly to a residence visa, but if you get enough points you may be able to apply for a residence visa under the Skilled Migrant category.

Work to Residence visas

There are two options for obtaining a Work to Residence visa.  These enable you to apply for a resident visa work in New Zealand after working in the job for at least 24 months.

Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa

If you have the qualifications and experience for an occupation on the Long Term Skill Shortage and have a permanent or long-term job offer you can apply for a Work to Residence Visa. There are also age, health and character requirements.

Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa | Immigration New Zealand

Talent (Accredited Employers) Work Visa

If you have a long-term or permanent job offer from an Immigration New Zealand accredited employer you could apply for a work to residence visa. You’ll need to meet the age, health and character requirements, and your job offer will need to meet certain requirements.

Talent (Accredited Employers) Work Visa | Immigration New Zealand.

Investor Visas

There are options to obtain a visa if you want to invest or set up a business in New Zealand. There are three main options:

  • Investor Visas

You can qualify for an investor visa by investing in New Zealand:

If you plan to set up or buy a business an entrepreneur visa allows you to obtain a visa.  The normal route is start with an Entrepreneur Work Visa, which allows you to move to New Zealand and buy or establish a business. After either six months or two years you can then apply for an Entrepreneur Residence Visa.

  • Global Impact Visas

The Global Impact Visa is a visa that works with the Edmund Hillary Fellowship (EHF) to find a limited number of entrepreneurs and investors addressing issues of global concern.  You need to qualify for and join the EHF to obtain this visa.

Partners and Children

There are a number of options in New Zealand that allows partners and children to move to New Zealand.  You can check online on the New Zealand Immigration website whether you are eligible as the partner, child, parent or other relative.   This will take you through the options for temporary and resident visas depending on whether they are a New Zealand citizen or resident, applying for  a work or other visa.


You and your partner will need to meet certain criteria:

  • Your partnership needs to be genuine and stable.
  • You must be living with your partner.
  • You must meet health and character requirements.
  • You must have the support of your partner.
  • Your partner must be eligible to support your application.

Check the specific requirements for your situation as they vary for temporary and resident visas.

New Zealand includes as partners those of the opposite or same sex, who live together in a genuine and stable relationship in any of the following:

When you apply for a visa based on your partnership with a New Zealand visa holder or New Zealand citizen that supporting partner must:

  • be aged 18 or over, or if they’re aged 16 or 17 years, have the consent of their parents or guardians
  • have met each other before applying for a visa based on your partnership
  • not be close relatives.

Other visas

There are a number of other New Zealand visas available for specific situations. Visit Immigration New Zealand’s website for the full list.

Find a visa | Immigration New Zealand

It is worth considering all visa options as some are eligible for more public services than others.