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Immigrate to New Zealand from US

Immigrate to New Zealand from US

If you want to immigrate to New Zealand from US, prior to verifying the visa conditions and the most suitable visa options for your situation, you should also verify the living costs, the procedure for renting or purchasing a property, the education system, the national health system and numerous other aspects concerning the daily life in this country, especially in the case of those who want to relocate here on a permanent basis. Our immigration lawyer in New Zealand can assist you with professional advice.

Immigrate to New Zealand from US on a permanent basis

Although a part of the persons who relocate to New Zealand arrives here only for a determined period, a large proportion of the foreign citizens arriving here apply for permanent residence visas. This is also the case of American citizens or permanent residents who immigrate to New Zealand from US. A permanent residence visa opens the legal pathway to the New Zealand citizenship, if the foreigner is interested in this opportunity.

 Quick Facts  
  Visas for short-term immigration to New Zealand from US

Americans can immigrate to New Zealand from US for short-term stays related to work, medical treatment, business partnerships, etc. In some cases, they will not need to apply for a visa. 

Visas for long-term immigration to New Zealand from US


Long-term visas can be issued for business or investments, work contracts, enrollment in long-term courses, family reunification, etc. 
Visa exemptions 


 One can immigrate to New Zealand from US without a visa in the case of short-term stays (of maximum 90 days) as long as the purpose of stay is related to tourism, visiting family, short-term study.  
Electronic visas available

Yes, the NZeTA (New Zealand electronic Travel Authority). 

Main reasons to immigrate to New Zealand from US As stated by the Immigration Act 2009 – such reasons can refer to tourism, study, work, reunite with family members, etc.
Institution in charge with the issuance of the visa 

New Zealand Immigration Office

Fee system available for the processing of the visa (yes/no) 

Yes – the visa fees are charged based on the type of visa the foreigner needs, the type of application (paper/online), etc.

Fees charged for the issuance of short-term/long-term visas  The fee for the issuance of NZeTA is of $44 paid through the mobile app and $47 paid online. For the USA Working Holiday visa, the fee is of $35.  
Special rules for citizens of US (yes/no)   Yes – USA is on the visa waiver countries and this grants the right to exemptions of visa requirements. 
The procedure for permanent residency in New Zealand A foreigner can obtain permanent residency after minimum 2 years of stay in New Zealand, by applying for one of the visas that grants the right to permanent residency (family reunification, work, business, investment). 
Documents required for permanent residency application  The applicant must provide evidence on the following: his or her identity, good character, the current residency visa, proof of complying with the conditions imposed by the visa, showing commitment to staying
in New Zealand.
Reasons for which permanent residency can be granted in New Zealand The Skilled Migrant category, the 2021 Resident Visa, the Partner of a New Zealand Resident Visa, Parent Retirement Resident Visa, Investor 2 Resident Visa,  Australian Resident Visa etc.
Right to permanent residency for refugees/asylum seekers (yes/no)  Yes 
Immigration pathways for highly skilled persons  Skilled Migrant category, Pitcairn Islander Resident Visa, Talent Work Visa, Talent Resident Visa, etc.  
Legal pathways
to citizenship 
3 main legal pathways- citizenship by birth, by descent and by grant. 

Persons who want to live permanently in New Zealand will have to comply with specific conditions that are the same regardless of the nationality of the applicant, but various requirements may also vary depending on the nationality. In the case of an American citizen who will immigrate to New Zealand from US with the purpose of becoming a permanent resident, one must comply with the below-mentioned aspects:

• provide identity documents and documents that attest the fact that the applicant has a good character;
• be the holder of a valid residence permit in New Zealand;
• when applying for a permanent residence visa, the applicant must have lived in New Zealand for at least 24 months under a New Zealand residence permit;
• please note that if the visa expired for more than three months at the moment when the application was made for permanent residency, the applicant may no longer be entitled to a permanent residency visa, as per the regulations of the Immigration Office;
• the applicant must also make proof of the fact that he or she is committed to relocate to New Zealand on a permanent basis (evidence can refer to work arrangements, the intention of obtaining the New Zealand citizenship and other relevant matters).

How can Americans work in New Zealand?

Any person who will move from US to New Zealand has the legal right of working in this country, as long as the person has the legal age required for this activity and has obtained a suitable visa. Foreigners are not eligible for employment in this country if they have obtained only a traveling visa, for instance.

Americans who are at least 18 years old and who have an American passport can apply for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa, this being one of the main legal pathways to employment in this country. Foreigners can apply for it even if they have not obtained a job offer in New Zealand, which can be a basic conditions for other types of visas for employment.

Americans who plan to move from US to New Zealand on a permanent basis can easily register for the issuance of this visa type, as this immigration document opens the opportunity to obtaining permanent residency in this country. Here, the applicant will have to request the issuance of a New Zealand residence permit.

In the case in which the type of work activity that is developed by the American citizen is in demand in New Zealand due to a lack of workers and specialists in the respective field, the applicant will almost likely obtain the visa.

In order to apply for this visa, the American citizen should present the Expression of Interest, through which the person will officially inform that he or she is interested in applying for this visa category. Here, the applicant should present information on the educational background, the expertise in his or her field, the qualifications obtained throughout the years and any other matters related to work experience.

Please be aware that the right to moving from US to New Zealand under this visa is limited only to persons who have an age of at least 18 years old and maximum 55. There is also a language criterion, as foreigners applying under this program should know English, but this shouldn’t be a concern for an American applicant, as the two countries use the same language.

Once the applicant has sent an Expression of Interest to the New Zealand authorities and if the application was approved – by issuing an invitation to apply for residence, the person will have a period of 4 months to formally apply for the issuance of the visa. Mind that this visa category opens the possibility of moving from US to New Zealand along with the applicant’s partner and children with an age below 24 years old.

You can watch in the video below a short presentation on the ways of moving from US to New Zealand:

How can investors immigrate to New Zealand from US?

American investors who are considering expanding their business activities in other jurisdictions, including in New Zealand, have the possibility of applying for several types of visas designed for business and investment purposes. Below, we will present the requirements applicable to one of these visas, but for extensive details, you can always request more information from our immigration lawyer in New Zealand:

• businessmen can immigrate to New Zealand from US under the Investor 2 Resident Visa;
• the visa program is available only to those who can invest NZ $3 million;
• the visa can be accessed by American persons with an age of up to 65 years old;
• it must be observed that the legislation for immigration to New Zealand imposes a quota of 400 such visas per year;
• this visa program offers the right of bringing close family members to live here, including children with an age below 24 years old;
• the investment must be maintained for at least 4 years.

Businessmen who want to immigrate to New Zealand from US also have the possibility of applying for an Entrepreneur Work Visa, which is a type of immigration document that provides the right of staying in this country for a period of up to three years.

This visa was created taking into consideration two basic stages – the first one refers to the beginning of a business activity in this country once the visa application is approved, and it covers the first 12 months after the visa was granted, when the investor will register the business and start the business operations, and the other one refers to the period of time after the businessman can prove that his or her business is a reliable one.

After this process is completed, the legislation on immigration in New Zealand mentions that the visa can be granted for other 24 months. It must be noted that those who want to apply for this type of business visa have to be able to invest at least NZ $ 100,000 in the respective company (a sum which does not include the capital necessary for starting the business). The applicant must provide a clear business plan and has to obtain at least 120 points on the visa application (New Zealand applies a point system when evaluating a visa application).

As a businessman investing in New Zealand, one has the opportunity of obtaining permanent residency through the Entrepreneur Residence Category pathway, which can be obtained in certain conditions; you may request more details with regards to permanent residency in this country from our immigration lawyer in New Zealand.

American citizens who want to immigrate to New Zealand from US may also want to see the visa conditions applicable for the Global Impact Visa, which is addressed solely to persons who are able to make an important impact in a given economic sector or to entities which are seen as “changemakers”.

What are the visa options for American retirees?

American citizens have the possibility to immigrate to New Zealand from US under visas created especially for retirees. One of these visas is the Parent Retirement Resident Visa, available only for those who have an adult child who is a citizen of New Zealand or a person who has obtained permanent residency here.

Through this visa, one will be able to receive permanent residency in this country, but the applicant must meet certain financial obligations. For instance, the person must make proof of having an annual income of NZ $60,000. Another financial obligation is to invest NZ $ 1 million in a period of 4 years, at the end of which the person will be eligible for permanent residency.

If you want to obtain residency in New Zealand through this program, then it is necessary to complete the Parent Retirement Category Residence Application, which must be sent with all the required documentation.

Along with these, the proof of paying the processing fee is necessary, and the immigration levy as well. Then, an approval in principle will be issued and after that, the applicant must transfer the funds to receive the visa.

What are the requirements for traveling visas?

New Zealand allows the citizens of certain countries to visit its national territory without obtaining a traveling visa. This is possible through the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA), a travel document which can be obtained online only by the nationals of the countries which are included on the list of visa waiver states.

The NZeTA was created to reduce the formalities for travelling in this country and this applies to American citizens as well. However, it must be noted that the NZeTA can only be used for traveling, and it can’t be used as a way of moving from US to New Zealand. You can request more information from our immigration lawyer, who can offer more details on other pathways for visiting this country.

How can young Americans migrate to New Zealand?

A young person is generally seen as any individual who has an age below 35 years old. There are different types of visas one can obtain in this case, but Americans can also opt to migrate to New Zealand through the Working Holiday Scheme. However, Americans who immigrate to New Zealand from US under this visa can only stay here for a given amount of time, and participate in certain activities, as prescribed by this visa category.

The Working Holiday Visa Scheme was created with the purpose of allowing American citizens the right to travel in this country for up to one year, as well as study here or participate in a training for a period of up to six months. Those who want to permanently immigrate to New Zealand will need to apply for other types of visas.

The visa also grants the right of developing a taxable activity, which means that the American citizen can obtain a job for a determined period of time, but only for specific activities. One of the jobs available for young Americans is in the horticulture or viticulture industries and, if the person applies for a job opportunity in these sectors, the visa can be prolonged for a period of three months.

The eligibility criteria are very clear, which means that the applicant must comply with the following: being a citizen of the United States of America, have an age of maximum 30 years old at the moment when the application is made (for other nationalities the age criterion is increased to 35 years old) and not less than 18 years old and having sufficient financial means to live here throughout the validity of the visa.

Those who migrate to New Zealand under this visa scheme are allowed to multiple entries throughout the validity of the document, which can only be obtained once by the respective applicant. This document does not provide the right to permanent employment in New Zealand, nor does allow to bring other close family members.

Americans who have a partner at the moment when the application is made who wants to participate in this program should know that the partner has to make a separate application, as long as the person meets the basic legal requirements. In certain conditions, the age criteria can be increased to 35 years as well, and more details on this aspect can be offered by our immigration lawyer in New Zealand.

The visa was created for young persons who want to travel, study and work in this country and this is why it provides limited rights, as it does not represent a program for those who want to migrate to New Zealand on a permanent basis.

For this particular program, Americans who will immigrate from USA to New Zealand must make the proof of having at least NZ $4,200 at the moment when they will participate in this visa program.

An advantage of this program is that there isn’t a limited number of visas that can be issued per year to American nationals, as it can be the case of applicants from other countries.

What are the visa options for American students?

American students can arrive in this country for study purposes. Persons moving from US to New Zealand as fee paying students are entitled to stay in the country for a period of up to four years, as long as they enroll in full-time university programs, carried out by approved education institutions. The visa can also provide the opportunity to work part-time. Additional rights can be granted under the Fee Paying Student Visa, which can also be obtained by correspondence students or distance learners.

Young Americans interested in studying in New Zealand can arrive here under the Vocational Trainee Student Visa as well. This visa program is open for those moving from US to New Zealand for the purpose of studying and working in the naval and shipping sector. The program allows the opportunity of winning a scholarship, in which case, the winner will be able to participate in a training held by a governmental agency or in a tertiary educational institution.

Please mind that this visa program allows working in New Zealand only under part-time contracts. You must also note that the visa can’t be used for bringing close family members here (such as a spouse or children, if this applies). In the case in which the applicant has a family, the only way for moving from US to New Zealand for the duration of the study is to apply for a separate visa, based on the relation the family has with the person who has obtained the Vocational Trainee Student Visa.

Visa pathway for American talent

American passport holders who have gained extraordinary talent in fields such as culture, art or sport can apply for the Talent (Arts, Culture, Sports) Work Visa. This document grants the right to immigrate to New Zealand from US for a period of 30 months, but this type of visa can also open the possibility for obtaining permanent residency here.

The visa application procedures must start prior to immigrating to New Zealand and the applicant must arrive here in a period of maximum 3 months since the visa is issued. This type of visa is issued as a pathway to employment in the above-mentioned fields, but the visa holder can also enroll in short-term education courses.

For more details on how to immigrate here as an American citizen, we invite you to contact our immigration lawyer in New Zealand. Our lawyer can provide legal representation and advice on the documents that are necessary for each type of visa presented in this article, as well as on other visa categories available under the law on immigration in New Zealand.