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How to Immigrate to New Zealand : Comprehensive Guide

Suppose you’re contemplating a move from your current country either for a change of environment, in search of better employment, to further your education, or for any other reason, New Zealand is a country to consider when weighing your options.

The country is increasingly witnessing an influx of migrants worldwide into the country. This influx is not surprising considering the numerous immigration pathways and boundless opportunities available to immigrants.

This article seeks to break down the process of immigrating to New Zealand and answer any questions you may have.

Why Immigrate to New Zealand?

New Zealand is a destination of choice for immigrants looking to live, work, study, or raise a family because the country has a lot to offer. Some of the advantages of immigrating to New Zealand include:

High Quality of Life

According to the 2021 global peace index, New Zealand is the third in the global peace index. Immigrants enjoy a high quality of life, especially since the cost of living is low. It also has low crime rates and a high tolerance for all religions.

In addition, New Zealand is a politically stable country, and its citizens’ political and civil rights liberties are respected and guaranteed. This level of safety is also extended to immigrants. Additionally, the country boasts some of the world’s lowest rates of corruption.

Excellent Healthcare System

New Zealand has universal health coverage through a government-funded, regionally administered delivery system. The services covered include inpatient, outpatient, mental health, long-term care, and prescription drugs. You can also choose to take medical insurance for private healthcare, although many New Zealanders do not opt for this.

National Health Index numbers are issued to everyone in the country, even those in the country temporarily. These numbers enable the health system to keep track of personal medical information and ensure that this information is secure, complete, and confidential.

High-Quality Education System

New Zealand boasts an excellent education system and is ranked among the most educated countries globally. Children enjoy free education between the ages of 5 and 19 at state schools and government-owned schools. This education is funded if they’re New Zealand citizens or permanent residents. New Zealand is also home to some of the best universities globally.

The eight universities in the country are ranked among the top 500 globally. These universities are affordable, and student loans are available for those who cannot afford tuition.

Employment Opportunities

Immigration New Zealand’s website lists over 60 occupations that need skilled workers urgently. The most affected industries include IT, agriculture, education, the health sector, and trade and construction.

As this reflects, there aren’t enough New Zealand citizens with the required training and experience to fill these roles. These shortages are a great restriction for economic growth. New Zealand is therefore focused on attracting highly skilled migrants to fill these gaps in labor and strengthen the economy.

New Zealand Citizenship and Permanent Residence: What Should You know?

What is a Citizen?

According to Merriam-Webster, a citizen is a person who legally belongs to a country and has the rights and protection of that country.

There are three ways of acquiring New Zealand Citizenship:

  • Citizenship by Birth: People born in New Zealand before January 1st, 2006 are citizens of New Zealand by birth. After this date, those born in New Zealand only qualify to be citizens if one of their parents is a citizen of New Zealand or has a visa allowing them to reside indefinitely.
  • Citizenship by Descent: A person is considered a New Zealand citizen by Descent if they were born outside the country, but they have at least one parent who is a citizen of the country by birth or grant at the time they were born. People who fall under this category need to register their citizenship to get a passport.
  • Citizenship by Grant: A New Zealand citizen by grant was born outside New Zealand or in the country after January 1st, 2006, to parents who were not New Zealand citizens or permanent residents. 

Does New Zealand Offer Permanent Residence?

New Zealand offers permanent residence to people who have a New Zealand residence visa and have been in the country for two years. The permanent residence visa permits its bearer to remain in the country indefinitely.

The New Zealand permanent residence visa allows its bearer to live, work, and study in the country, travel to and from New Zealand without restrictions, and include your partner and dependent children below 24 years in the visa application.

How Does the New Zealand Points-Based Immigration System Work?

The New Zealand points system is designed for the  Skilled Migrant visa pathway. The points system allows applicants’ Expressions of Interest to be ranked so that New Zealand Immigration can invite migrants who they deem have the most to offer New Zealand to apply for residence.

For the Skilled Migrant pathway, points are awarded for applicants’ age, having family members in New Zealand, employment status, prior work experience, and academic qualifications. Applicants need to meet the minimum threshold of 100 points to lodge an expression of Interest.

The expression of interest contains information relating to the applicant’s health, character, age, English language ability, and factors that will earn them points on the points-based assessment. The expression of interest is only valid for six months. If an applicant is not chosen from the pool of applicants, they will need to reapply. 

If an applicant gets over 160 points, they can expect an invitation to apply in approximately 1 to 3 months. The pool of applications is reviewed every two weeks.

 Top 5 Ways to Immigrate to New Zealand.

1. The Skilled Immigration Visa Programme

The Skilled Migrant pathway is the main professional category of receiving permanent residence in New Zealand. The Skilled Migrant Category is a points-based system that uses age, work experience, qualifications, and an offer of skilled employment to determine those eligible to receive New Zealand permanent residence. 

Applicants must not be older than 55 years and meet English language, health, and character requirements. Applicants with 160 points or more are chosen from the expression of interest pool and sent an invitation to apply for permanent residence. If the application is successful, a resident visa will be issued to the individual. The applicant may also migrate with their partner and dependent children not older than 24 years.

2. Entrepreneur Work Visa

The entrepreneur work visa is tailored to those who want to start up and work in their own business in New Zealand. The applicant will need to provide a detailed business plan, have at least NZD 100,000 to invest in the business, and claim 120 points on the points-based scale. If the application is successful, applicants can buy or set up a business without living in the country permanently or as a first step towards New Zealand permanent residence. 

The visa enables its holders to enter into New Zealand to buy or set up their business work in the business for up to 3 years in total. They also have the option of Including their partner and dependent children not older than 19 years in the visa application. 

For applicants whose business is in Science or ICT and shows a high level of innovation or export potential, the government of New Zealand may consider waiving the NZD 100,000 capital investment requirement.

3. Family Sponsorship Visa

If your family member is a New Zealand citizenship or a permanent resident, they can sponsor you if you are any of the following groups:


A New Zealand citizen or permanent resident can sponsor their partner to come and live in New Zealand, provided that they have not supported or sponsored more than one successful applicant previously under the Partner Sponsorship.

Additionally, they have not sponsored another successful applicant under the Partner Sponsorship within the last five years of the present application.

Dependent Child

A lawful citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand can sponsor a dependent child under the Family sponsorship category. The child must be 16 years or younger or between 17 and 24 years and single with no dependent children.

Likewise, the child must have been born or adopted before the parents applied for residence to New Zealand and declared on parent residence application, born after the parent’s residence application, or adopted as recognized by New Zealand law. The child also needs to be of good health and character and be dependent or substantially dependent on an adult for financial support.


Suppose you are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and wish to invite your parents to live with you in New Zealand. In that case, you can sponsor them under the parent group of the New Zealand Family Visa program.

To Sponsor a Parent or Guardian, the applicant must be at least 17 years old and live in New Zealand as a New Zealand or Australian citizen. The applicant may also live in New Zealand and be the holder of a Residence Visa, or a returning Residents Visa, for at least three years before the application. The applicant must also demonstrate that they will provide financial support and accommodation for at least the first 24 months of their parents’ residence in New Zealand.

4. Global Impact Visa

Immigration New Zealand partners with the Edmund Hillary Fellowship (EHF) to provide an innovative immigration product for high-impact entrepreneurs, investors, and start-up teams.

This visa program provides outstanding entrepreneurs and investors with a three-year visa to create innovative ventures resulting in a positive global impact for New Zealand with a path to permanent residence. Separate visas are also available for the immediate family members of those who have this visa.

To qualify to apply for permanent residence, applicants must be in the Edmund Hillary Fellowship for the entire duration of 30 months.

An applicant must first be accepted into EHF to be eligible for a global impact visa. Once accepted into the fellowship, candidates can apply for a Global Impact Visa. Applicants who are chosen are evaluated based on their acceptance into the fellowship, English language abilities, general health and character, and sufficient funds to support themselves in New Zealand.

5. Investor 2 Resident Visa

Business people who have at least NZD 3 million in funds or assets are qualified to apply for New Zealand residence. Before application, they must send an expression of interest telling Immigration New Zealand about their business experience and investment. If this expression of interest is successful, applicants, partners, and dependent children will be invited to apply for New Zealand permanent residence.

Immigration New Zealand employs a points-based system to evaluate Investor 2 Resident Visas eligibility. If your EOI is successful and you’re invited to apply for residence, you’ll have four months to send an application.

What Other Immigration Programs Can I Apply For?

Apart from the immigration pathways highlighted above, prospective immigrants can also choose any of the following New Zealand immigration pathways depending on the one they are best suited for: 

Essential Skills Work Visa

Prospective immigrants who have been offered full-time employment, and have the necessary qualifications and experience to work in that job, can apply for a temporary visa to work in New Zealand.

One of the conditions to meet is that your employer must have confirmed that no New Zealand citizens can do the work before offering you the job. If you are given an Essential Skills Work Visa, you may support your partner and dependent children’s visa applications. In addition, you must work only in the specific occupation, for the employer, and in the location specified on your visa.

An essential skills work visa is only given to those who: 

  • Have a valid means of identification
  • Are of good character
  • Are you in good health 
  • Have a genuine intention to meet the conditions of the visa
  • Have an offer of full-time employment.
  • Possess the necessary qualifications to do the job

Permanent Resident Visa

Immigrants who have a New Zealand residence visa and have been living in New Zealand for two years or more may qualify for a Permanent Resident Visa, allowing them to travel to and from New Zealand as they like.

This visa allows its holders to live, work, and study in New Zealand. If they were included in the initial residence application, one could also include partners and dependent children below 24 years in the visa application.

For the application of being successful, applicants must:

  • Have a valid means of identification
  • Be of good character
  • Must hold a valid resident visa, or must have held one in the last three months
  • Must have met the conditions of their current resident visa
  • Be committed to permanently living in New Zealand

General Process and Requirements to Migrate to New Zealand

To help prospective migrants filter unnecessary information and make the research process less tedious, we have highlighted the general process to migrate to New Zealand in these easy steps:

  • Research New Zealand and check if your skills are in demand also, make sure you meet immigration eligibility requirements such as language proficiency settlement funds, among others.
  • Explore your visa options as New Zealand has a range of visa options depending on what you want to migrate to the country for. Choosing a visa pathway that you check all or most of the boxes in terms of requirements is important to increase your selection chances.
  • The next step is to list all required documents New Zealand requires immigrants from your country to have. These documents generally include a valid means of identification, proof of language proficiency, statement of account, among others. It’s better to have these documents handy, so nothing catches you unawares.
  • After this, you can go ahead to apply for your visa either online or by sending the required documents to Immigration New Zealand and paying all necessary application fees. 
  • Once you’ve made your application, the application gets assessed as soon as possible. You may be asked for further information if needed, and you will get an update about your visa as soon as it’s decided.

The requirements for your migration to New Zealand may vary based on your visa application pathway, as some pathways require additional documents. The general requirements for migrating to New Zealand include:

  • A Passport: To help the appropriate authorities to confirm the applicant’s identity. The passport must be valid and easy to read.
  • Photograph: The second requirement is a photograph of the applicant. All applicants are required to supply a photo for easy identification.
  • Proof of Funds: the applicant needs to provide proof of funds from their financial institutions. The proof of funds shows that the applicant has enough funds to support themselves and their dependents if they have any.
  • Proof of employment offer ( where applicable ): this is necessary to confirm that an applicant will be gainfully employed and not enter the country for fraudulent reasons. For the employment offer to be considered valid, it must be full-time.
  •  Proof of good character: applicants need to show that they have a good character to enter New Zealand. Applicants with prior criminal records need to disclose this as there are special procedures to go through.

What English Exams are Required for New Zealand?

To qualify for immigration to New Zealand and ultimately get a visa, prospective immigrants need to show proof of their English Language abilities by taking the following approved English language tests:

Can You Immigrate to New Zealand without a Job Offer?

Most New Zealand work visa pathways require an offer of employment from an employer in the country before applicants can submit their applications. However, some exceptions are given to those who meet open work visa category requirements.

An open work visa allows the bearer to work for any employer in New Zealand. Also, an open work visa does not mandate an applicant to have an offer of employment at the application stage. Visas under the open work visa include the partner of a worker work visa, which enables its holder to work in New Zealand while their partner is in the country on a work visa. 

Another is the post-study work visa which enables recent graduates who have received their qualifications in New Zealand to stay in the country and work for any employer for up to 3 years.

What is a Working Holiday?

New Zealand has a working holiday arrangement with several countries, letting young people work and explore.

A New Zealand working holiday visa is given to young people, usually between 18 to 30, but 18 to 35 in some specific countries. The visa allows young people to travel and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months, or 23 months if they are citizens of the United Kingdom or Canada. Those who apply for a 23-month visa must submit a General Medical Certificate of fitness. 

To be considered eligible for the working holiday visa, applicants must show that they have enough money to pay for a return ticket to their country. They must be entering New Zealand primarily for a holiday, with work being a secondary goal.

What Is The Cost of Immigrating To New Zealand in 2021?

The cost of moving to New Zealand varies according to the immigration pathway a candidate is applying through. When applying, an applicant’s country of origin and location could also influence the amount they must pay. Different pathways have their financial requirements, and applicants need to research and be aware of these requirements before starting the application process.

­Refugees, asylum seekers, and protected people are not required to pay a visa application fee or immigration levy. New Zealand also has reached a consensus with some countries and waived the visa application fees for citizens of those countries. Additionally, Victims of family violence are not required to pay an application fee or an immigration levy.

For instance, the Investor 2 Resident visa requires substantial investment in New Zealand. It mandates that applicants have a minimum of NZD 3 million to invest in the country before applying for New Zealand residence. 

For applicants who intend to migrate through the Skilled Migrant Pathway, an application fee of NZD 530 is to be paid, followed by an immigration fee of NZD 3,310 along with a non-refundable immigration levy. 

How to Appeal your Immigration Decision?

If an application for a visa to visit, work or study in New Zealand is declined, in some cases, the applicant can ask immigration New Zealand to reevaluate their decision.

An applicant is eligible to appeal their immigration decision if they are in New Zealand when making the request and they are still in possession of a valid visa.  The visa could be interim if they make their request to appeal no more than 14 calendar days after they receive the decision to refuse their visa application. 

Most appeals need to be made in writing, and appellants will also be required to send in their passport or certificate of identity and their credit card details for necessary fees.

When the appeal has been initiated, immigration New Zealand will review the applicant’s visa application and look at any additional information. The review will not be carried out by the immigration officer who declined the initial application to ensure an objective perspective.

After careful consideration, the applicant will be granted a visa if the initial decision is wrong. However, If the initial decision is upheld, the applicant will not receive a visa. 

Applicants whose visas have expired but are within New Zealand when their visa renewal decline is being appealed will not be deported while the review is still ongoing.

If the decision to decline a visa application is upheld, the applicant cannot appeal the decision. The majority of applications are reviewed within four months.v

How to Prepare For Your Life in New Zealand?

The best time for preparation for life in New Zealand to begin is before you leave your home country. Thus ensuring that the transition for you and your family is as seamless as possible.

There are several ways the New Zealand government seeks to make the transition process easy for migrants. NZ Ready is an online planner that helps migrants with a checklist of documents and items to bring and things to do before arriving in the country. These checklists are personalized based on the needs and immigration pathway of each migrant.

Other helpful tips to prepare you for life in New Zealand are:

  • Familiarize yourself with your destination: researching the region, town, or city you’ll be settling in within New Zealand is an advantage as it makes the task of settling in less daunting. Find out as much information as possible from online resources and ask questions if you have friends or family already there. Getting information about the weather, transportation system, healthcare system, grocery stores, and recreational activities helps you know what to expect after you settle in. 
  • Make accommodation arrangements: it is advisable to make temporary or long-term proper arrangements for your accommodation. Immigrants who have relatives or friends in the country may stay with them until they make more permanent arrangements. You can explore the option of staying in a hotel or motel, tourist flats, or holiday homes for the first few days or weeks. This option can, however, be expensive, especially in urban areas. You can also consider renting a house, an apartment or a shared apartment before committing to buying property.
  • Find a job: if you have not been able to find a job before arriving in New Zealand, getting one should be your top priority once you are settled. The first step is to ensure that your credentials are equal to those issued in New Zealand. To assess whether an international qualification is comparable to a New Zealand qualification, the qualification is also ranked using the National Qualifications Network.
  • Assess your qualifications: Immigration New Zealand has a record of international qualifications assessed against the NQA and displays the New Zealand equivalent. If your qualification is on record, there is no need to assess. Next, you need to plan and prepare adequately. Find out which employers are hiring within your industry and tailor your resume to fit the listed requirements. You can also visit the official database to check for particular job titles or careers. The database also contains information about compensation, job opportunities and entry and qualification requirements. Another option is to contact recruitment companies to boost your chances of getting a job faster. 

Additionally, getting letters of recommendation from previous employers is a testament to your experience and expertise. Networking with others in your field is also essential as they can always put in a good word for you when opportunities come up.

Top Occupations and Salaries in New Zealand.

New Zealand is currently undergoing a skill shortage that is affecting its economy. The Immigration New Zealand website lists jobs across several industries that need workers to fill them up. Some of the worst-hit industries include agriculture, construction, technology, and hospitality.

As the country finds its footing post-covid-19 and lockdown measures are no longer as stringent as they are now, it is predicted that job openings will exceed the country’s current labor capacity.

There is no official government website highlighting the top occupations in New Zealand. There are, however, several articles and websites that one can consult to find out more information.

Below is a list of the top occupations in New Zealand and their salaries:

Average Annual
Salary Range
Information Technology ManagerNZD 110,000 to 180,000
Building and Construction ManagerNZD 80,000 to 170,000
Information Technology ArchitectNZD 120,000 to 200,000
Marketing ManagerNZD 70,000 to 180,000
Procurement ManagerNZD 69,000 to 196,000
Ship’s MasterNZD 125,000 to 250,000
OphthalmologistNZD 58,000 to 250,000
Mine ManagerNZD 120,000 to 210,000
Senior Communications SpecialistNZD 70,000 to 250,000
Financial AdvisorNZD 70,000 to 250,000

How Can You Avoid Common Immigration Problems and Pitfalls?

Getting settled in a new country does not have to be challenging, especially when you can learn from others’ mistakes of others, so you do not repeat them.

Below is a list of common problems immigrants to New Zealand face and how best to avoid them.

  • If you find yourself unable to apply for a visa by yourself, as the process can be sometimes complicated, it is best to enlist the services of an agency that specializes in that sort of work. There are a lot of individuals looking to pull a fast one on unsuspecting victims, so it is in your interest to do your research and engage the services of agencies vetted and endorsed by immigration in New Zealand.
  • Being aware of the region you’re moving to, and the weather conditions in the region before moving cannot be overemphasized. For instance, New Zealand’s South Island has a cooler climate than the rest of the country. Immigrants moving there from warmer climates have to pack appropriate clothing and prepare themselves for the cooler temperatures.
  • The living cost in New Zealand is significantly high compared to some other popular countries for immigrants. This high cost of living is especially true of urban areas like Auckland. It is important to plan and avoid unnecessary expenses. Also, get a job early on if you don’t have one before moving and be determined to cultivate healthy money habits.

Additional FAQs – New Zealand Immigration

Is it Hard to Immigrate to New Zealand?

The process of migrating to New Zealand is not difficult if you meet the requirements and have your documents in order.

In addition, the numerous immigration pathways available for New Zealand make it easy for prospective migrants to qualify for and immigrate through these pathways.

How Much Money Do You Need to Immigrate to New Zealand?

As stated earlier, the amount of money you need to immigrate to New Zealand varies according to the immigration pathway you intend to go through.

Those who intend to immigrate via business or entrepreneurship pathways will spend more money than those immigrating through the skilled migrant or family sponsorship pathway.

What is The Easiest Pathway to Migrate to New Zealand?

The skilled migrant immigration pathway is the easiest way to immigrate to New Zealand. This pathway is a major step towards getting permanent residency in New Zealand, thus making it very attractive to immigrants.

The processing time varies, but applications take 4-7 months on average. 

Is there a Maximum Age for Immigrating to New Zealand?

There is no age limit for migrating to New Zealand. Some visa pathways like the Skilled Migrant Category have an age limit.

However, there is no general maximum age for immigration. Different visa pathways are available for elderly immigrants moving to New Zealand. 

Helpful Online Resources or Links to Get Started With Your New Zealand Immigration Journey

Here are some links to articles and official government websites to help you get started on your journey:


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