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Immigration Policy for New Zealand

New Zealand is a dream destination for many travelers. For some, it’s the place where they want to spend the rest of their lives. For these people, learning how to immigrate to New Zealand is important, because it will help them make their dreams come true. 

Different people will find different ways to immigrate to New Zealand. Here’s what people need to know before they move to this spectacular country.

Immigrating to New Zealand

People who immigrate to New Zealand move there with the intention of setting up a new life for themselves in the country. They are leaving their old life behind and relocating everything to New Zealand long-term. Some immigrants remain in their new country for the rest of their lives.

Immigrating is different from a visit, even a long-term one. People who visit another country intend to return to their old life in their old country at some point in the future.

At some point, there is a blurry line between someone, like a student, who remains in a country that is not their own for several years but always has the intention to return home, and a long-term visitor. 

In general, people can be considered immigrants if they set up a new life in their new country. When they have a bank account, own property or have a long-term lease, and set up a network of friends and colleagues in their new country, they are usually considered immigrants.

Reasons to Immigrate to New Zealand

There are a myriad of reasons to immigrate to New Zealand. While every immigrant has their own set of reasons, these are the ones most of them talk about. 

  • People who get jobs in New Zealand need to live there to pursue their careers and fulfill their work responsibilities. The vast majority of people who have jobs waiting for them in New Zealand find it easy to get the work visa they need to live there.
  • Those who have been accepted into an academic institution in New Zealand can apply for a student visa. These allow them to be in the country for the duration of their course of study.
  • People who have family members in New Zealand may choose to move there to be closer to their family or to care for them. There are special visas for these needs.
  • New Zealand has some spectacular natural settings. People who fall in love with these or who love nature may choose to move there simply to have easier access to the natural world they have fallen in love with.
  • People who are not safe or who lack security in their home country, or those who face persecution for reasons of religion, sexual orientation, gender, and more may choose to move to New Zealand so they can live in a place where they feel safe.
  • New Zealand offers a number of outdoor adventures that may be hard to find in some places. Other people simply want to experience the adventure of living in a different country and choose New Zealand as the place to experience that.

How to Immigrate to New Zealand

There are a number of potential visas that allow a person to move to New Zealand. The most common of these are one of the work visas, including: 

  • The Long-Terms Skills Shortage Visa. If an immigrant has skills that New Zealand needs, this visa allows them to stay in the country for 30 months. After 24 months, the person can apply to become a permanent resident or apply for another short-term visa.
  • The Skilled Migrant Visa. This visa is awarded based on a points system to people who have skills that will contribute to New Zealand’s growth and who want to live and work there for an indefinite amount of time. Applicants should complete a set of questions online, then wait for an invitation to apply for the visa.
  • A Working Holiday Visa. This visa is intended for young people on a gap year, so is available for those from 18-30 or 35, depending on country of origin. They allow the person to live and work in New Zealand for a set period of time.

There are other work visas that are industry-specific or time-specific, for people doing a particular job in New Zealand that only takes a certain number of months.

There are also specific visas available to students, investors, those who want to start a new business in New Zealand, and families of people who qualify under other categories.

Most visa applications to New Zealand start with a visit to the local consulate. Applicants will need to fill out a form and bring any necessary paperwork (like their passport and job offer or proof of acceptance into an academic program) with them. 

At the embassy, they will meet with someone who may ask them a few questions, then inspect their paperwork. Most visas are processed as quickly as possible, though some may take longer than others. The embassy is the best place to find out how long a particular visa should take to be reviewed and processed. 

New Zealand officials may ask for more paperwork. Applicants should provide this as quickly as possible to expedite their visa application.

What does it Mean to Be an Immigrant in New Zealand

Many people love being an immigrant in New Zealand. After all, there’s so much to love, including: 

  • New Zealand is immigrant-friendly. Most New Zealanders are happy to welcome new people to their country and love getting to know those from different cultures and backgrounds.
  • New Zealand is safe. There is always some crime, but New Zealand is high on lists of safe countries in the world. Between having strict laws governing things like gun ownership and a laid-back population, most immigrants feel safe in the country.
  • New Zealand offers great educational opportunities. Whether immigrants are looking for education for themselves or for their kids, the opportunities in New Zealand are solid and there are many courses of study available.
  • New Zealand has a good economy. In general, there are good jobs available and people are making enough money to live well and enjoy themselves.

Long Term Visit Versus Moving Permanently

People who want to try out life in New Zealand before they commit to living there can enter on a regular visa or an ETA, depending on their country of origin. These last for varied times, also based on country of origin. However, they usually last long enough for someone to decide whether they want to pursue immigrating to the country.

The only downside of this is that most of these visas do not allow visitors to work in New Zealand. This can make it harder for people to stay for long enough to decide if they want to live there. It can also make it hard to know if the particular work-life balance in New Zealand is something the visitor wants to pursue.

Refugees in New Zealand

People who fear returning to their home country can register for asylum and refugee status in New Zealand or at a New Zealand embassy overseas. They will need to fill out a form, including a written statement that explains why they are afraid of remaining in their home country.

They will also need to complete an interview and may be asked for other information to document or corroborate their story. Immigrants wanting refugee status will also need to get a chest x-ray, in order to test for tuberculosis.

It can take up to 6 months for New Zealand to review these claims and process them. Those applying for this status will be informed once their claim is complete.

Being a Resident in New Zealand

Being a resident in New Zealand gives people many of the same rights that citizens have. Residents have a right to protection under New Zealand’s laws, and they have the right to some coverage under New Zealand’s healthcare system. Residents can live, work, study, and enjoy everything New Zealand has to offer.

In addition, most resident visas in New Zealand must be renewed regularly, though the period of validity will change based on visa type and some other factors. Citizenship in New Zealand never needs to be renewed.

Permanent residents can even vote in New Zealand’s elections and pay resident fees for education (rather than foreigner’s fees, which are higher). If becoming a citizen does not work for particular residents or does not appeal, they can still fully participate in life in New Zealand.

Undocumented Immigrants in New Zealand

Because New Zealand is an island nation, government officials find it easier to protect its borders than officials in some other countries do. Thus, New Zealand does not have a huge population of undocumented immigrants. 

Most people who end up in New Zealand undocumented are there because their visa expired. Many of these people have tried other routes to get visas and have not been successful.

When this happens, there are only two ways that a person can remain in the country, as applying for most visas is not possible once the initial visa has expired. These options are to apply to stay in the country on humanitarian grounds and to apply for a “Section 61” visa.

A Section 61 visa means applying directly to Immigration New Zealand. It means that your case will be looked at specifically and any kind of visa may be granted, based on your occupation, job skills, and other details. This is usually a last resort for people who want to remain in the country.

Consider Moving to New Zealand Today

People who long to live overseas or those who want to live specifically in New Zealand should consider starting their immigration process today. After all, getting the proper paperwork and permissions to immigrate takes time, and starting is the only way to get the process going.

It won’t be long before people who want to live in New Zealand can begin their new lives in their new country!

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