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Overseas people can enter and stay in New Zealand provided they have a valid visa and current passport. There are four types of visas:

Residence Visa (and Returning Resident's Visa)
Visitor Visa
Student Visa
Work Visa (including Working Holiday visa)

You can even do a points test for the General Skills migration category online! We look forward to being of service to you.

If you wish to live permanently in New Zealand, or have the right to live permanently, and to enjoy the benefits available to residents in New Zealand you must hold a Resident Visa or Resident Permit. As a permanent resident you pay the same tuition fees as New Zealanders and after a qualifying period you may be entitled to the Government student loan and student support programs. Furthermore if you have lived and studied in New Zealand for 3 years and hold permanent residence you may qualify for New Zealand citizenship and a New Zealand passport.

There are presently six categories under which applicants can apply for residence in New Zealand:
1.General Skills Category:
Under this category applicants are awarded points under specific criteria and must secure sufficient total points for their application to succeed. The main applicant must meet the English Language requirement (IELTS minimum 5.0) prior to lodgment.

International students who successfully complete an undergraduate diploma or degree course of at least 3 years duration, or a postgraduate course of at least 1 year duration in New Zealand can score additional points and have the normal prerequisite requirement for at least 2 years work experience waived.

Under present policy international students who complete their tertiary study in New Zealand and get a job are very likely to qualify for permanent residence.

Under the General Skills Category applicants score points for the following criteria:

  • Qualifications
  • Age
  • Work Experience
  • New Zealand Work Experience
  • Employment Offer
  • Spouse Qualifications
  • Settlement Funds (NZ$100,000 or NZ$200,000)
  • Family Sponsorship

2.Investor Category:
This category is also points based and requires applicants to score points for their age, business experience and the amount of investment funds (minimum NZ$1,000,000) to be invested for two years in New Zealand.

3.Entrepreneur Category:
For business-people who have established and operated their own business (minimum 25% ownership) in New Zealand for two years and the business is considered to be providing some benefit to New Zealand.

4.Family Category:
There are several types of residence applications under the Family Category. These include: marriage to a NZ resident or citizen, parents of a NZ resident or citizen, adult unmarried children of NZ residents or citizens etc. There are certain criteria required for each type of application.

5.Humanitarian Category:
Under this category people who are suffering from serious emotional or medical harm and have an immediate family member in New Zealand may be able to apply for residence.

6.Refugee Category:
Under the United Nations charter, New Zealand has agreed to accept a limited number of refugees each year.

All residence applications include the main applicant, their spouse and all children under the age of 20 years at the time of application lodgment.

If you wish to enter New Zealand as a tourist, visit friends or family, for business (but not to work), medical reasons or for a short-term study course of less than 3 months you normally require a Visitor Visa. However people who are citizens of countries with whom New Zealand has visa free arrangements do not require a visa to enter New Zealand but they must hold a valid passport, return air ticket and be able to prove they have sufficient financial support when entering New Zealand.

Your initial Visitor Visa will normally be issued for the period of time you have requested in your application to achieve the purpose of your intended visit. After arriving in New Zealand you may wish to extend your stay and this can be done by making an application for a new permit at any New Zealand Immigration Service office in New Zealand. The present policy restricts visitors to a stay of a maximum of 9 months in any 18-month period. Genuine visitors who require more time to complete their tour and sightseeing itinerary may qualify for a special extension to a total of 12 months.
To make an application for a visitor visa you normally need:

  • To complete the 'Application for Visiting New Zealand' form
  • To pay the visa application fee
  • To include recent passport photo(s)
  • To provide evidence of your financial support for the time of your stay in New Zealand. This is normally NZ$1,000 per month
  • Evidence of onward travel (normally return air ticket)
  • An invitation and itinerary or other documentation to confirm your purpose for visiting New Zealand.

In addition there may be specific information and documentation, which are special requirements of applicants from your home country.

Please note an applicant's spouse and dependent children (under 20 years) can be included within one visitor visa application.

Student Parent Visits
It is normal for the parents of students studying long term in New Zealand to come to visit their son or daughter so they can see for themselves the situation in New Zealand and can personally visit the school, meet the teachers and the home stay family and thereby gain a good understanding of the education and living conditions in New Zealand. Many parents enjoy their visits so much they buy a house or set up business in New Zealand and make more frequent visits.

Limited Purpose Visitor Visa
In processing a Visitor Visa application the New Zealand Immigration Service may decide the application is unable to meet all the policy requirements to enable a Visitor Visa to be approved. In this situation the Visitor Visa application will be declined or the opportunity to receive a Limited Purpose Visitor Visa will be given which is more restrictive than a normal Visitor Visa.

You will need a student visa if you are outside New Zealand and wish to come to New Zealand to study full-time for longer than 3 months. If you wish to study for a shorter period like a holiday English program you may only require a visitor visa. Intending students entering New Zealand from visa free countries do not need a student visa to enter New Zealand but must apply for a student permit after their arrival when they have finalized their study course. You can only get a student visa to study in a course at an education institution, which is registered and approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

Your student visa will be issued for the length of time your course tuition fees have been paid. If you are studying a long-term course at secondary school, University or Polytechnic you will normally pay your tuition fees every year and so your student visa will be for one year. The student visa must be renewed each year in New Zealand before the expiry date, normally at the end of February or March.

To make an application for a student visa you need:

  • To complete the 'Application to Study in New Zealand' form
  • To pay the visa application fee
  • To include a recent passport photo
  • To provide evidence of your financial ability to support your study and living costs
  • An Offer of Place confirming your course enrolment from an approved school or institution
  • A guarantee of accommodation

    If your intended course of study is more than two years you must:
  • Complete the NZIS Medical and X-Ray Certificate Form
  • Provide a Police Clearance Certificate if you are 17 years or over

    In addition there will be specific information and documentation, which are requirements of applicants from your home country.

Limited Purpose Student Visa
In processing your student visa application the New Zealand Immigration Service may decide your application is unable to meet all the policy requirements to enable you to be a approved for a student visa. This may be because there is insufficient documentation or information available to confirm you are a genuine student and/or that you have sufficient financial support for the full time of your intending study in New Zealand. In this situation your visa application will be declined or you will be given the opportunity to receive a Limited Purpose Student Visa.

If you intend coming to New Zealand for a short term, specific course of study and do not wish to risk being declined a normal student visa it is acceptable to apply for a Limited Purpose Student Visa in the beginning. The fees and documentation for a Student Visa and Limited Purpose Student Visa are the same.

There are a number of conditions, which apply to holders of Limited Purpose Student Visas that do not apply to normal Student Visa holders. Some of these conditions are:

  • You must leave New Zealand before your permit expiry date
  • You cannot change to another type to permit
  • You cannot request any special consideration or lodge any appeal regarding your permit status

    However, in some certain situations it may be possible to extend or change a Limited Purpose Student Visa.

In addition there will be specific information and documentation, which are requirements of applicants from your home country.

The normal Work Visa policy is for workers who have been offered a job in New Zealand because the New Zealand employer cannot find anyone with the skills, qualifications and experience to do the job offered. These Work Visas are normally issued for a maximum period of 3 years. The spouse and dependent children of Work Visa holders are given Visitor or Student Visas for the same period as the Work Visa holder. Dependent children of Work Visa holders do not pay international student tuition fees until they complete secondary school.

Students who have completed their undergraduate degree and who receive an employment offer relevant to their degree can be entitled to a Work Permit of up to 2 years to work in the position offered.

Students undertaking long term tertiary studies in programs of at least 2 years will have their student visas endorsed with a condition that they can work for up to 15 hours each week. However if these students wish to work full-time in the long summer (November - February) holiday they must apply to the New Zealand Immigration Service for a Variation of Terms to allow them to work. You do not need a job offer to obtain the Variation and can work in any job.

Working Holiday Visas
New Zealand has special Working Holiday programs for young citizens from approved countries to travel to New Zealand for up to one year to holiday, to work and for limited study all under the same visa.

To be eligible under this program, applicants must:

  • Be aged from 18 years to 30 years and not be accompanied by children, and
  • have sufficient money to pay for their return travel.

    People who arrive on a Working Holiday Work Visa
  • Cannot return to New Zealand on the same program again
  • cannot undertake permanent employment unless they obtain an appropriate work permit
  • can change their permit status after arrival to that of a visitor, student, worker or resident if they meet the requirements to do so.

    Working Holiday Programs are in place with the following countries.
Canada Korea
France Malaysia
Germany Netherlands
Ireland Japan
United Kingdom

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