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Obtain New Zealand Permanent Residency

Obtain New Zealand Permanent Residency

If you want to obtain New Zealand permanent residency, then you should start a specific immigration process. Through this, you will gain access to having the right of living here on an indefinite basis, and you will also be able to apply for citizenship, if you will want to become a citizen of this country. Below, you can find out more details on New Zealand residence permit.

In order to have the right to New Zealand (NZ) permanent residency, you must comply with a set of legal requirements, prescribed by the immigration law applicable here. First, you should know that there is a major difference between residency and NZ permanent residency, as the latter can be obtained after living here for a given period of time, and after your request for a New Zealand residence permit was approved.

What are the conditions for obtaining the NZ permanent residency in 2023?

The right to NZ permanent residency can be granted to those who have lived here for a period of minimum two years. Then, the tax residency status is also of importance – the holders of New Zealand residence permit have to pay their taxes in this country, so that they can contribute to the NZ society and benefit from their contributions.

 Quick Facts  
  Temporary residence permit types

working holiday, temporary work, family reunification, partnership, student, visitor 

Time needed to obtain the temporary residence permit (approx.)

it varies from minimum 21 days to maximum 6 months 

Temporary residence permit validity

 it varies from 9 months to maximum 4 years, depending on the visa type 
Documents for obtaining temporary residence the passport, evidence on having sufficient financial funds, sporsorship proof (where required), travel tickets, the application form, the application fee payment, othe relevant documents that can vary based on the visa type one needs


Mandatory registrations with state authorities (i.e. with the population/municipality register) Immigration Office New Zealand handles the main immigration procedures 
Dependents can join the temporary permit holder (Yes/No)

yes – it depends on the visa type received by the applicant 

Temporary or permanent residency for investment purposes

yes, under the investor program (temporary residence at first, which can be changed into permanent residency if conditions are met)  

Type of investments available for residency purposes investments in various assets in New Zealand 
Minimum investment amount it depends based on the program ($750,000 for the Temporary Retirement Visitor Visa, $3 million for the Investor 2 Visa, $10 million for the Investor 1 visa) 
Minimum temporary residence before applying for permanent residence after minimum 2 years of living in New Zealand
(but this applies to certain visa types) 
Residency for individuals married to a citizen of the country residence visa can be obtained after 12 months of living together  
Documents for obtaining permanent residence identity documents, documents attesting good character, the current visa issued by New Zealand officials, proof of commitment to New Zealand
Naturalization requirements proof of permanent residency, proof of living in the country for the minimum amount of time (1,350 days in a 5 years period), meet the language requirements, meet the good character requirements 
Citizenship after permanent residence one can apply for citizenship after 5 years of permanent residency 
Dual citizenship permitted (Yes/No)  yes, the law in New Zealand allows dual citizenship 

This can also be available for foreigners who migrate to New Zealand for the purpose of starting a business; you can request more information on the eligibility criteria from our immigration lawyer in New Zealand. It is worth knowing that the right to NZ permanent residency can be obtained through specific immigration programs, and below we present few of such programs:

  • the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa – addressed to those who arrive here for employment purposes and who have a set of skills that are necessary for various industries;
  • the Parent Retirement Resident Visa – available for elderly persons who want to retire in New Zealand and who can prove that they have sufficient funds to live here on an indefinite basis;
  • Investor 2 Resident Visa – it grants the right to NZ permanent residency to both the investor and his or her family members, if the applicant can invest at least NZ$ 3 million in the local economy;
  • Samoan Quota Resident Visa – it is organized as a ballot where the registered persons will be drawn based on a yearly quota and those who are selected will be invited to become permanent residents of New Zealand;
  • Talent (Arts, Culture, Sports) Resident Visa – persons who work in these industries and who have been working here for two years can be invited to apply for a permanent residence permit in New Zealand in certain conditions.

How can Samoans obtain permanent residency in New Zealand?

Permanent residency in New Zealand can be obtained following a simpler route in the case of certain nationalities, which have a historic bond with New Zealand. One of these situations is applicable to Samoan citizens, who can actually apply for a visa created specifically for this nationality – the Samoan Quota Resident Visa.

For such persons who want to immigrate to New Zealand, there is a yearly ballot, through which the New Zealand government can offer 1,100 visas that grant the right to permanent residency to those who register in the ballot, as mentioned above. The single thing the Samoan citizen has to do is to register in the ballot system.

If the person’s name will be selected, the local authorities will analyze the person’s application and the person will receive an invitation to permanently relocate to New Zealand. The visa provides the right not only to permanent residence, but also the right to work and study here and develop any other activities that are available for local citizens.

In order to participate, the Samoan citizen must provide supporting evidence regarding his or her Samoan nationality, but also regarding the age, as the eligibility criteria involve an age requirement – only persons with an age between 18 to 45 years old can participate in the ballot.

As a bonus of the visa, the Samoan citizen is free to include in his or her permanent residence application his close family members – that refers to the spouse or partner and/or the dependent children with an age below 24 years old. This procedure can be done only if the applicant will mention the name of spouse/partner and children in the ballot application.

Although the visa provides numerous rights which are not automatically granted to other categories of foreigners, there are still certain minimum requirements that the Samoan applicant has to comply to; for instance, it is necessary to have a good command of the English language, the national language in New Zealand.

Besides this requirement, the applicant or the spouse/partner of the applicant must have a job offer in New Zealand. If you want to migrate to New Zealand as a Samoan citizen, it is important to know that, for the moment, the applications for this visa type are currently suspended due to Covid-19 pandemic, but the current rules will be modified based on the manner in which the pandemic is contained in New Zealand.

How many applications for residency are registered in New Zealand?

New Zealand is a country that receives numerous applications for residency each year; foreigners apply for both residency and NZ permanent residency, through programs as the ones mentioned above. The latest data on the overall number of applications for a residence permit in New Zealand was influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, which means that 2020 and 2021 may register lower values, but this is not always the case. Below, you can find a short presentation on this matter:

  • the Investor 2 Visa registered the highest demand in 2014-2015, when there were 2,061 applications (the latest data, for 2020-2021, show that there were 774 applications, as presented by the New Zealand Immigration Office);
  • the Skilled Migrant Visa has been maintaining the same level of applications over the years, of more than 20,000 (measured since 2010-2011 to 2021-2021 – for the latter, on June 2021, there were only 3,696 applications, this being a program which can open the way to NZ permanent residency);
  • in the family stream visa category, the highest demand is for the Partnership visa, recording more than 10,000 applications per year for a residence permit in New Zealand (in 2020-2021, there are 12,131 applications, the highest volume registered since 2010-2011);
  • the Parent Retirement program has also registered the highest application rate in 2020-2021, reaching 353 applications in the current year (the highest number of applications was of 201 in 2019-2020);
  • the refugee program has also registered numerous applications for residency and NZ permanent residency, with 322 applications in 2020-2021 (the single year that had more applications in the period of 2010-2021 was in 2017-2018, with 330 applications).

For 2022, the visa applications for the Skilled Migrant program closed on 11 November 2022. By that date, the immigration authorities received 6,515 expressions of interest (EOI) for residency in New Zealand, which are to be processed after this date.

This visa type is issued based on a point system and applicants must have at least 160 points in order for their application to be considered.

Please know that for 2023, the rules have been slightly modified. One of the newest modifications brought to this program is that, starting with 18 January 2023, all applicants will be required to have at least 180 points on their EOI applications in order to be considered qualified to go further on in the visa application process.

This means that, compared to the previous year when the applicants must have had only 160 points, in 2023, they will need to score more points based on the type of employment the applicants qualifies for, the work experience, qualifications, etc.

Our immigration lawyer in New Zealand can provide more details on other modifications brought to the visa system in 2023.

As a general rule, the local immigration authorities will try to grant a total number of visas for residency in New Zealand ranging between 85,000 visas to 95,000 per year, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. However, these values can depend based on various factors that appear in certain economic fields or the NZ society.

Any of the visas presented here can be used when moving from USA to New Zealand on a permanent basis. Americans have many options for relocation, based on the main reason of their arrival.

Please mind that the visa application process has to be initiated before arriving in this country, but for those who are already in the country, the permanent residency application is also available.

The following video offers a short presentation on the process of obtaining New Zealand permanent residency:

How long does it take to process residence visas in New Zealand?

When you will migrate to New Zealand, you will have to apply for a specific type of visa, unless you are exempt from this procedure. The application file will be processed in a given period of time, depending on the visa that you apply for; below, you can find a list regarding the time required for processing residence visas:

  • the transfer of a visa that grants the right to residency in New Zealand can generally be completed in 1 day for 50% of the applications (it can take 2 days for 75% of the applications and 5 days for 90% of the applications);
  • processing documents for traveling conditions of persons who can reside in New Zealand can be completed in 6 days for 50% of the applicants or in 8 days or 15 days (for the shares presented above);
  • the Partner of a New Zealander visa, which can offer the right to NZ permanent residency, can be processed in a period of 4 months (in 50% of the cases), or in 7 months or 10 months;
  • residency in New Zealand in the Skilled Migrant Program are processed in a period of 22 months in 50% of the cases or in 24 months or 27 months;
  • the procedure for the NZ permanent residency visa is generally completed in 11 days for 50% of the applicants, but in practice, the procedure can also take up to 18 days or 53 days.

What is the 2021 Resident Visa in New Zealand?

Under the current context of the world, where travelling from one country to another can be subjected to numerous restrictions and more complex entry requirements, numerous persons were not able to travel freely or to leave a certain territory, as the transportation system was greatly affected.

Because of this, the immigration authorities of all countries had to create a legal framework to accommodate the needs of the current situation and ensure a good system. The 2021 Resident Visa is addressed to persons who live in New Zealand and who generally work in this country.

The advantage of this visa stream is that a person who already lives in New Zealand is entitled to bring in this country close family members, such as partners or dependent children, who are not in New Zealand at the moment when the application is made.

This visa is available for persons who have arrived here under a visa for employment – such as Skilled Migrant. The 2021 Residence Visa is open solely to persons who have applied for the work visas on 29 September 2021 or after this date or who have submitted an Expression of Interest for the Skilled Migrant program starting with 29 September 2021.

Those who want to immigrate to New Zealand under this visa stream must know that the applications for it opened on 1 December 2021, this being the first application stage. The visa program has two stages, and the second one will start on 1 March 2022 for the applicants who were not approved in the first visa stage or for those who did not manage to register in this first round of applications.

Anyway, all applications for the 2021 Resident Visa have to be submitted before 31 July 2022. However, please mind that this visa stream is available only for certain categories of skilled workers, and it is a way to relocate here for those who seek to obtain NZ permanent residency.

The basic criteria to meet are the following: the applicant has been living in New Zealand for the last three years (the minimum), the person is employed in a job activity that is considered a skilled activity and which is paid with at least NZ $27 per hour; the applicant can also develop a work activity that is considered scarce. Please mind that the applicant does not have to comply with all the three rules, he or she can be included in either one of the three categories.

Besides these, the applicant must have been issued with specific types of visas in order to apply for this NZ permanent residency visa. You can request in-depth legal advice regarding this matter from our immigration lawyer in New Zealand, who can provide more information on other new immigration rules that can be imposed to foreigners.

What should one know when applying for NZ permanent residency in 2023?

According to the law on immigration in New Zealand, in order to have the right to NZ permanent residency, you will most likely have to be the holder of a temporary residence permit. Upon your arrival in New Zealand, you will receive a residence visa for the purpose of your stay, which is issued for a limited amount of time (2 years).

The residence visa will also impose certain traveling restrictions, unlike the permanent residence visa. Upon the expiration of your temporary residence visa, you will be able to apply for NZ permanent residency in the case in which you have lived in New Zealand for at least 2 years under a residence visa and you have respected the requirements imposed under the respective visa.

More than this, you must also prove that you have shown your commitment to New Zealand under one of the many ways that are prescribed by the national law. All these three basic conditions can open the way to permanent residency in this country; our immigration lawyer in New Zealand can provide more information on this subject.

When you will immigrate to New Zealand, when applying for permanent residency, you must know that you will have similar rights as the ones available for NZ citizens, but there are few very important differences between the two categories. Although permanent residents have almost the same rights, they do not have the right to a NZ passport as they are not citizens of the country, they can’t vote in this country, nor can they work in specific governmental functions.

The holders of NZ permanent residency permits are entitled to work here, study and live in this country on an indefinite basis, they can purchase properties and apply for bank loans, they will be registered for social security and health benefits and numerous others. They will also enjoy the right of traveling to and from New Zealand without restrictions.

In this application, the person applying for permanent residency has the right to include close family members, including children with an age of up to 24 years old. However, this can happen only as long as the applicant included family members in the original applications forms, when the person arrived here under a temporary residence visa.

Please mind that although the holders of NZ permanent residency visas can travel without restrictions, they will need to have their permanent residence visa in their passport; in the case in which the travel document will expire, then the holder must apply for a transfer of the permanent residency visa on the new passport.

For almost all categories of persons who are foreigners that immigrate to New Zealand, the law stipulates that they first have to apply for a temporary residence visa, regardless of the reason of their relocation. However, the law also stipulates the group of persons who can apply directly for NZ permanent residency.

This is the case of persons from Samoa, Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga and Tuvalu, who can enter a ballot where they show their intention of relocating to New Zealand and, in the case in which they are selected, then they will be able to start the formalities for permanent residency in this country. Please mind that there is an age requirement – only persons with an age of minimum 18 years old to 45 can enter the program.

If you need further information and want to want out the list of documents you should prepare for your NZ permanent residency application file, do not hesitate to address to our lawyer. Our immigration lawyer in New Zealand can provide step-to-step legal assistance.