Residence pathways

Residence visas are are the most strictly assessed, and problems that may have been overlooked at earlier stages are much more likely to cause residence applications to be declined. INZ treats residence as a last line of defence, so they need to be certain that a person meets the criteria before they approve the visa. There are many pathways to residence in New Zealand and a successful application depends wholly on proving beyond reasonable doubt that you fit the criteria of the visa category that you wish to apply for.

Even when going through the same general pathway, for example partnership or working, the relevant law at the residnece stage is different to at the temporary entry stage. This could mean that issues which have never been raised before suddenly become very important to your application, or it could mean that residence becomes impossble until these criteria are met or evidential requirements are cleared. In some cases for example with health or character, it may even mean that residence is not possible.

The best way to ensure a clear pathway through to residnece is to plan the previous stages with this in mind. There are many things whcih can be done at the work visa stage (or earlier) to make residence a little smoother.



The categories and pathways for residence in New Zealand

The category that we would apply under will depend on the strength of meeting the criteria for the specific category. There are preferrable options as well, so it may be worth pursuing a plan to meet the criteria for a specific category rather than applying under a less favourable category. Each category is organised to suit the type of peopel that the New Zealand Government wants to settle in New Zealand.

Skilled Migrant Category (SMC)
Family Categories - Partnership, Parent, Parent Retirement and Dependent Child categories
* Business Categories - Entrepreneur Work Visa -> Entrepreneur residence visa, Migrant investment Categories (Investor 1 and Investor 2)

Category summary

The information here is to help you get an idea of what category may be possible for you. We prepare a full assessment for all clients to make sure the chances of success are as high as possible. If you think you meet the general criteria listed below, it means that you may have a chance, but residence visa applications can be long and difficult so it pays to get professional advice before you start so you can progress as smoothly as possible. 

*Note that the criteria published here is correct at the time of publication, but as criteria can change from time to time, please check with us if you are not sure.

1. Skilled Migrant Category

  • English level needs to be IELTS 6.5 or more
  • Skilled job - Must meet definition of skilled employment [SM7.10] must be currently working in NZ or have a real job offer
  • Have good health and good character
  • You have suitable qualifications and / or experience for your employment
  • Age under 55

Bonus points are available if:

  • Your qualifications and work experience meet the criteria on the Long term Skills Shortage List
  • Your employment is in an area of future growth
  • You have a partner who also meets certain criteria 
  • Extra points for being outside of Auckland 

2. Work to residence

  • You must have a current job with an accredited employer
  • meet the minimum income requirements
  • Work for an accredited employer for 2 years
  • There is no English requirement
  • This category is being phased out

3. Family Categories

   a. Partnership Category

  • You need to be in a stable and genuine partnership with a New Zealand citizen, or holder of a residence visa
  • meeting the criteria of this category shouldn't be too hard, but proving it can be very difficult
  • NZ partner must not have supported more than one other person for residence before and must have no criminal history involving sexual or domestic violence crime 

  b. Parent retirement category

  • You need to have an adult child who is legally resident in New Zealand
  • have (NZD) $1,000,000 to invest in NZ
  • have (NZD) $500,000 in settlement funds
  • have an annual income of at least (NZD) $60,000

 4. Business categories

  a. Entrepreneur Work Visa -> Entrepreneur residence visa

The EWV by itself is not a residence visa, but a special type of work visa that allows self employment. If after a set period of time the applicant meets certain criteria for successful establishment of a business, then it is possible to apply for an Entrepreneur residence visa.

As a category this is currently not recommended unless there is no other option. INZ are treating this very strictly recently

  • Minimum capital investment of $100,000 (excluding working capital)
  • Applicants must have proper business experience
  • A detailed business plan must be produced and prove clearly the value of the business 
  • At least 120 points based on factors such as: number of years self employed, management experience, number of NZ workers employed, age, business based outside of Auckland, approved export business turnover, capital investment and unique or new products for NZ. 
  • English - IELTS 4 or above

After 6 months or after 2 years of being self-employed in their business, the applicant may apply for an Entrepreneur Residence Visa. The difference is basically in how much money you have invested in your business and how many full time jobs you have created for New Zealanders. After 6 months you need to have:

  • Invested over $500,000 in your business
  • Created at least 3 ongoing full time jobs for NZers
  • Acceptable standard of health and chararcter

  b. Migrant investment categories

There are 2 migrant investment categories; Investor 1 and Investor 2. The differences are in how much money you are required to invest and in the case of Investor 2 there are requirements of business experience, English and so on.

Investor 1

  • Be of good health and character
  • Have at least $10 million to invest in acceptable NZ investments for 3 years

Investor 2

  • be of good health and character
  • English - at least IELTS 3, but significantly more points for higher levels and must complete and English course if only 3.
  • Age; under 65
  • Have at least $1.5 million to invest in an acceptable NZ investment for at least 4 years
  • have at least $1 million in settlement funds
  • Have a minimum of 3 years' recognised business experience (very senior management positions)