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Immigration to New Zealand
Immigration policies are changing. Government is now working to provide a long-term focus to the population (and immigration) needs of New Zealand, employers and new migrants. Key components include changing some immigration policies, the establishment of a Ministerial Advisory Group on Immigration and the identification of settlement and employment needs of migrants and of opportunities for employers. Consequently, several policies have changed.

For detailed information please go to Immigration to New Zealand page The following summarises changes considered relevant to members of AmCham. However, professional advice should be sought before proceeding:

Business Visitor Visas

Not a new policy, but one which allows visits for up to three months in a year for selected business purposes. However, any other form of work requires a valid Work Permit.

Work Visas have become more ‘employer friendly’

  • increasing recognition by the New Zealand Immigration Service of the needs of organisations to employ senior and specialist personnel in roles not appropriate to the restrictions of standard work permit policy
  • the introduction of recognised skill shortages by region, up-dated each three months
  • the spouse of a work permit holder may now also apply for an open work permit which considerably eases the financial and compliance costs. Dependent children may be issued with Student Visas for the same period. Primary and Secondary school children are treated as domestic students for school fee purposes.

Residence policies are being reviewed

  • English language requirements to be more flexible
  • Qualifications evaluation avoided for an increasing number of international learning institutions
  • Other initiatives are under consideration which are expected to ease the process for skilled expatriates and others to obtain NZ residence

International Students

International Students can provide invaluable insight into overseas markets and organisations
AmCham regularly receives enquiries from overseas students who wish to gain international work experience as a component of their studies. NZ employers can benefit from the attitude, skills and international contacts of these young people. Specific immigration policy applies.

Changing Requirements

Whether you are a New Zealand company needing a temporary work permit for specialist personnel, or are based overseas and planning to visit for business, pleasure or Residence, it is important that you be aware that New Zealand’s immigration policy changes rapidly and frequently as Government responds to the changing skill and economic needs of the country. It is therefore important that you obtain current advice direct from within New Zealand, with the latest information. Because of the complexity of immigration policy and regulations, assistance is available from specialist consultants and lawyers. Members of the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment have been assessed for competence and are required to operate under a strict code of ethics.

Visas and a Permits

A visa is granted by a New Zealand Embassy or Consulate office and allows the holder to travel to New Zealand. A Permit is issued on arrival and details the period for which the holder is permitted to stay in New Zealand. Most Visas and Permits have restrictions which detail the basis on which they have been issued. Permit Expiry

It is critical that a permit is not allowed to expire. If it does, the holder is liable to removal from the country and if so, will be denied re-entry for five years.

Visa Free Travel

The New Zealand Government has ‘Visa Free’ reciprocal arrangements with some 45 countries including USA, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, and South Africa. Citizens of these countries may travel to New Zealand for visits of up to three months (six months for UK citizens), without first obtaining a visa. They will need to hold a valid outbound air ticket to a country to which they have right of entry, have sufficient money to support themselves during their stay, and hold a passport valid for 3 months beyond the date they are leaving New Zealand. Visa free arrangements do not apply to Business Visitor Visas described earlier. Business Visitors and Citizens of countries which do not have visa-free arrangements will need to apply for a visa..

Immigration Categories

Immigration visas may be granted under the following categories:
  1. Employment: International or ‘substantial’ New Zealand companies may qualify to employ specialist or senior international personnel under specific conditions. However other work visa and permit applications are very complex, require careful handling and must meet a high threshold of proof that there are no local workers available to fill the position.
  2. Business Immigration:
    1. Investor: a residence category in which points are allocated for business experience, investment funds, and age. Requires investment funds of at least NZ$1,000,000 (approx. US$600,000).
    2. Long-term Business Visa/Permit: a ‘Temporary Entry’ category which provides for people interested in applying for residence under the Entrepreneur Category or those who wish to establish a business in New Zealand, but do not intend to live permanently in New Zealand.
    3. Employees of Relocating Businesses: a residence category for senior employees of businesses which are establishing a presence or relocating their operations to New Zealand. Allows employees who are critical to the success of the business, to obtain residence when they would not qualify under any other category.
  3. General Skills: a points-based residence category in which points are allocated for; Age, Qualifications Work Experience and other factors. Professional and some trades people may require registration
  4. Family: The applicant, or spouse / partner, must have immediate family (parent, brother / sister or child) living permanently and legally in New Zealand. Other conditions apply
  5. Humanitarian: a complex and difficult category which requires that the applicant has close family living permanently and legally in New Zealand, the applicant and/or the New Zealand party must be suffering severe emotional or physical harm and residence in New Zealand is the only reasonable way in which the situation can be resolved.

The New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment

Further assistance in the complex area of immigration law and policy is available from specialist Consultants and Lawyers who are members of the NZAMI. The association is a non-profit professional organisation comprising independent:
  • Immigration Consultants
  • Law Practices
  • Accounting Practices
  • Finance Houses and Banks
  • Local Government Authorities
  • Business Investment Advisors
Because the association has strict admission criteria and a strong Code of Ethics, you can be confident that any member of the association will provide you with the highest standards of knowledge, experience and professionalism.

More information on immigration could be obtained from the New Zealand Immigration Service at The New Zealand Immigration Service (NZIS) is the sole agency of the New Zealand government responsible for migration and entry to New Zealand.

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