What, Where, Why and When:
When going to New Zealand, or indeed anywhere overseas, out of everything that needs to be done, visas are top of the list and can shape your entire experience here forth.
Whether travelling, emigrating, or somewhere in between, visas are integral to your whole trip, and it pays to get this sorted as a matter of priority. It also pays to do your research and know exactly what sort of trip you’re looking for and which visa suits.
I’ve explored the ins and outs of them all! And while I have a pretty clear cut route as to how I can eventually achieve citizenship in this fantastic country, it’s been interesting to explore the options available to me.
At this stage you might even be unsure about your long-term intentions, so here’s some useful information on each visa that might just help you decide.
Visiting New Zealand: Tourist and Working Holiday:
If you’d like to explore this beautiful country and have no interest in grafting while you do so, then you can enter NZ without a visa, simply by completing an arrival card at the airport. This will allow you to stay for 3 months (or 6 months if from the UK) in any 12 month period.
If you wish to stay for longer than these specified, then you will need a basic Visitor Visa which is very straightforward to get. This enables you to stay for a maximum of 9 months, in an 18 month period, and only requires that you have a return flight or sufficient funds to pay for one.
While you are not permitted to work on this visa, that doesn’t mean you can’t look into this option while holidaying, and talk to potential employers. If you do decide to follow this course of action then you can go on to apply for a working visa.
There’s an expanse of job opportunities for those wanting to live and work in New Zealand – allowing you to continue building your career, or just earn money, while experiencing what NZ has to offer. Though all working visas are temporary, there is often the option to lead onto residency.
Temporary Working Holiday Visa
A Working Holiday Visa is designed for young people (aged 18-30, or 18-35 in select countries) who want to travel and work in New Zealand for a set period of time. This is usually 12 months, or 23 if you’re from the UK, and is a popular choice for many people who want to fund their travels as they go.
To qualify for this visa you must have a return ticket, or sufficient funds for one, and your main priority should be to holiday rather than work.
Essential Skills Work Visa
For those who are more concerned with building a career in New Zealand then the Essential Skills Work Visa can set you up with the right job before you even get out there.
If this is what you have in mind then a good place to start is finding out which the skills and qualifications are in demand, using resources such as The Essential Skills in Demand List.
Depending on the market, if your skills match this list then you can look at applying for the Essential Skills Work Visa, which means a position can be secured for you. Whilst this doesn’t lead directly on to residency, it can help you qualify for a residence visa through the Skilled Migrant Category.
Studying in New Zealand
For those planning to study in NZ for up to 3 months then you will only need a Visitor Visa; and if longer then a Student Visa is necessary. To qualify for this you must:
- Have an approved offer of place from an educational institution
- A written guarantee that accommodation is available to you
- Evidence of sufficient funds to cover living costs while studying
- A return flight or sufficient funds to buy one
If you’re studying in the country for an excess of 6 months then you may need to supply medical records and police checks.
Post-Study Work Visa
Following successful studies in NZ, many people will want to use their qualification to get a job working directly in that field. Depending on your expertise, you may be entitled to working in NZ for 2 years, which could even lead to permanent residency.
If you do decide that you’d like to stay on then you can apply for a Post-Study Work Visa, which has 2 steps:
If you have a relevant job offer from an employee then you can go straight to a Post-Study Work Visa (employer assisted) which allows you to stay in NZ, and gain experience in a specific field of work for a further 2 years.
If you don’t have a job lined up then you can opt for a Post-Study Work Visa (open) that gives you up to 12 months to find a job related to your studies. While looking, you can get any job to support you.
How to get a Resident Visa
Whether you’ve come here on a work or study visa, naturally many people fall in love with the place (like myself!) and will wish to take steps towards gaining residency.
If, after working in the country, you find yourself wanting to gain residency in New Zealand then here are the ‘ins’ to doing so:
Work to Residence: Long Term Skill Shortage
If you have a long-term job that fits the Long Term Skill Shortage List and your qualifications and experience are sufficient, then you can apply for a Work to Residence Visa. As an investment for the country, you will need to meet a number of age, health and character requirements.
Work to Residence: Accredited Employer
If you find yourself in a long-term job that doesn’t necessarily fit the Skill Shortage List, then you can potentially apply for a Work to Residence Visa through a full-time job offer from an Immigration New Zealand accredited employer. Again, you’ll need to meet those personal requirements, and the job offer will also need to fit certain specifications.
If, after a post-study work visa, or another type of work visa, you may find that you have enough ‘points’ to apply for a New Zealand Resident Visa under the Skilled Migrant Category. The points system relies on factors such as age, work experience and an offer of skilled employment. To gain a better understanding of what may be required, have a look here.
Working aside, you can also be sponsored by a family member to go to NZ, enabling you to become a temporary resident. This individual must be a NZ citizen or resident and can sponsor you if you’re a partner, dependent child or parent to them. Depending on the nature of your stay, you will need to specify whether you need a work, study or holiday visa under this umbrella.
How to get Permanent Residency and/or Citizenship
If your routes to gaining a Work to Residence Visa are successful then you are well on the road to becoming a permanent resident – meaning you can stay in NZ indefinitely with access to most publicly funded services.
To be eligible you will need to have:
- Been in NZ on a Work to Residence visa for at least 2 years
- Meet certain health and character requirements
Provide evidence that you have an English-speaking background, or possess an IELTS certificate (level 5)
If you’ve made it this far, and you’re enjoying life in NZ, then chances are you will also be interested in becoming a Citizen.
The beauty of this, as well as becoming a committed member of the country, includes the right to travel overseas and return on a New Zealand passport, as well as full access to educational scholarships and economic rights that are reserved for New Zealanders.
There are 2 main routes to gaining Citizenship:
Citizenship by Decent – if you were born overseas but one of your parents was a New Zealand citizen.
Citizen by Grant – the more common of the two, can be achieved by having lived in New Zealand with residence status for 5 years before application, with the intention to remain there upon receiving citizenship.
Again you’ll need to have a good character, speak good English, and understand the responsibilities and privileges associated with New Zealand citizenship. There are also various fees applicable throughout this process.
All said and done, you will be required to attend a citizenship ceremony. And, no doubt, by that stage you’ll be holding a big celebration of your own.
It’s important to remember that whichever visa you are looking to get, the application although it may seem confusing at first is actually very straightforward and can be completed by yourself without difficulty.
To find out more information and to check which visa is more suitable for your self check out the official New Zealand Immigration website below: