Residence pathways

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. Residence visas 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.

Put very simply; to qualify for residence you need in-demand job skills or money to invest or family resident in New Zealand, and good English, good health and good character. The difficulties are often that showing that you meet the requirements to the satisfaction of the immigration officer who is assessing your application can be a problem. An immigration adviser adds value to your application by firstly making sure that you gather the appropriate documents and that your application is presented to INZ in a way which makes it clear that you meet the requirements for the visa type you are applying for.

The type of visa that you should apply for depends on the strengths you have in fulfilling the requirements. If you have family who are citizens or already resident in New Zealand then perhaps one of the family categories would be most suitable for you. If you have a skilled job and are working in New Zealand now or are able to get work in New Zealand, then perhaps the Skilled Migrant Category would be best for you. 



The categories and pathways for residence 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)

A quick guide to choosing your category

The information here is to help you get an idea of what category might suit you best. please contact us for a full assessment if you feel one of these categories might suit you. 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 job offer with an accredited employer
  • meet the minimum income requirements
  • Work for an accredited employer for 2 years
  • There is no English requirement

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)