Criteria to emigrate to New Zealand – For skilled workers, partners, parents, students, investors and entrepreneurs
It is no easy feat trying to learn the criteria to emigrate to New Zealand. Kudos to you if you have managed to do that! But if you haven’t yet, don’t waste another minute trying to do it on your own. Just read through our guide below.
What you’ll find on this page is the most important requirements for emigration routes to New Zealand. For ease of reference, the information is broken down into four categories:
- Joining a partner or adult child
- Starting a business
You can read through all sections or jump to the immigration route you’re most interested in. You could also just jump to the end of the blog post to get a short summary of all the main requirements.
If you have any questions at any stage, please do not hesitate contact us. You can call us on +27 (0) 21 202 8200.
Now let’s get started…
1. To work in New Zealand
Is it your dream to live and work in New Zealand? Then you’ll have to meet one of the criteria we discuss below to emigrate.
1.1 You must have the skills New Zealand need
To work in New Zealand on a work visa, your occupation must appear on a skilled occupation list or an essential skills list. Further to this, you must have the experience, skills and qualification necessary to do the job.
The reason for this is two-fold. Mainly it’s because there is not enough skilled New Zealanders to fill all the most important job openings in the country. At the same time, though, the New Zealand government wants to be clear about what type of foreign national can be employed. This is to protect the job security of New Zealanders.
However, having the right skills isn’t the only requirement when applying for a work visa. Depending on whether you apply for the skilled migrant visa or the essential skills work visa, you’ll also have to meet these basic criteria to emigrate to New Zealand:
Skilled migrant visa:
To apply for the skilled migrant visa, you must:
- be 55 or younger
- score enough points to submit an Expression of Interest
- have a job offer for skilled employment or be in a skilled job in New Zealand
Please note: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, selections for Expressions of Interest are suspended until further notice.
Essential skills work visa:
To be eligible for the essential skills work visa, you must meet these requirements:
- You have a written full-time job offer from a New Zealand employer
- Immigration New Zealand is satisfied that there aren’t any suitable New Zealanders to fill the position.
- Your salary is according to the ANZSCO level of your occupation.
1.2 You must have a New Zealand partner
If you have a spouse or partner who is a New Zealander, you can apply for a partner visa. This visa not only enables you to live in New Zealand but also allows you to work.
For your partnership to be eligible for a partner visa, it’ll have to be one of the following:
- Legal marriage
- Civil union (whether opposite or same sex)
- De facto relationship (whether opposite or same sex)
In all cases the relationship must be of a genuine nature and stable. In other words, you and your partner entered into the relationship with a view of it being exclusive, long term, and likely to last.
In addition to these requirements for your relationship, there are also criteria your partner has to meet. He or she has to prove:
- his or hers New Zealand residence status
- that New Zealand is his or her primary place of residence
- That he or she is an eligible supporting sponsor
Read more about the partner visa.
1.3 You must have a partner who’s a work visa holder
When your spouse or partner applies for an Essential Skills Work Visa to New Zealand, it goes without saying that you’d like to join them in New Zealand if the visa gets approved. The good news is that there is partner visa for this purpose. This visa allows you to go to New Zealand with your spouse or partner and also enables you to work.
There are two great positives about this partner visa. For starters, you don’t have to have a job to apply for the visa. Secondly, it is an open visa so you can work for any employer you want to. You’re not tied to any employer and you can move employers as you wish.
Unfortunately, you cannot include dependent children on this visa. Depending on your children’s ages, you’ll have to apply for either the appropriate visitor visa or a student visa.
Read more about this visa.
2. To join a spouse or partner in New Zealand
Sometimes life throws you a massive curve ball. Like falling in love with someone from another country, your spouse being offered a job overseas, or your girlfriend getting accepted for her dream course…at a university 12,000 kilometres away.
In any of these instances, you’d obviously want to join them if you can. The good news is that you can if that destination abroad is New Zealand. That’s because Immigration New Zealand has various visas to keep couples together when one person is heading to their shores.
These visas cater for when your partner is one of the following:
2.1 Your partner is a New Zealand citizen or resident
When your spouse or partner is a New Zealand citizen or resident, you can apply for a partner visa. If you’re granted the visa, you’ll enjoy permanent resident status. This means you can live, work and study in New Zealand.
As discussed under the work section, your partnership must be a legal marriage, civil union, or de facto relationship. Furthermore, the relationship must be of a genuine and stable nature.
Read more about the partner visa.
2.2 Your partner is a work visa holder
You can apply for a partner visa if your spouse or partner is applying for or has an Essential Skills Work Visa. If granted the visa, you’ll also get to live and work in New Zealand.
To be eligible for this partner visa, you and your partner must live together in a genuine and stable relationship that is a:
- legal marriage,
- civil union, or
- de facto relationship.
Read more about this visa.
2.3 Your partner is a student in New Zealand
If your partner is going to study in New Zealand, you can join them using a visitor visa that caters specifically for the partners of international students. Once in New Zealand, you can explore the country as a tourist but also study for up to three months.
To be eligible to join your partner, your relationship must be a legal marriage, civil union or de facto relationship. Qualifying for this partner visa is about more than just your relationship, though. You’ll also have to prove that you can support yourself financially during your stay in New Zealand.
Read more about this visa.
3. To join your adult children in New Zealand
Let’s be honest – the children you actually want to join in New Zealand are your grandchildren. Watching them grow up over Skype is just not the same as holding and hugging them every day!
Luckily, you can immigrate to New Zealand to live with your grandchildren (and children) permanently – but you’ll have to meet this criteria:
3.1 Your child must be a New Zealand citizen or resident
The parent retirement visa lets you join your adult child in New Zealand. To be eligible, your child must be a New Zealand citizen or resident.
However, having an adult child is not the only criteria you’ll have to meet to emigrate to New Zealand. You’ll also have to:
- prove an annual income of NZD60,000
- invest NZD1 million in New Zealand for four years, and
- prove that you have another NZD500,000 to live on.
If you can meet all of these requirements and you do get the visa, you’ll be eligible for permanent residence after the four-year investment period.
There is also a parent and grandparent visitors visa that you can apply for. This is a three-year multiple entry visa and allows for stays of up to 6 months at a time.
Read more about the parent retirement visa instead.
4. To start your own business or invest in an existing business
It should come as no surprise that you’ll have to have finances and sharp business acumen to start or buy into a business in New Zealand:
4.1 Capital, a business plan, good business character, and enough points
To emigrate to New Zealand as an entrepreneur, you’ll first and foremost need a minimum of NZ$100,000, which does not include working capital. The only industries exempt from this requirement is IT and science.
Secondly, you’ll need a comprehensive business plan that shows that the business will add value to New Zealand and can succeed.
Thirdly, you must be able to prove that you have ‘good business character’. To evaluate your business character, INZ will review any instances of business failure, fraud and bankruptcy.
Finally, you must score enough points in your assessment. If you don’t, you may have to explore other visa options.
Read more about the entrepreneur visa.
5. To obtain New Zealand residence through making a financial investment
Are you looking for a residency by investment route into New Zealand? Then you’re at the right place. New Zealand has two investor visas. The main criteria is that:
5.1 You must invest at least NZ$1.5 million for four years
New Zealand has two investor visas: the Investor visa and the Investor Plus visa. For the former, you’ll have to a minimum of NZ$1.5 million for four years. For the Investor Plus visa, you’ll have to invest at least NZ$10 million for three years.
In addition to the financial criteria, you’ll also have to meet the following requirements to apply for the Investor visa:
- You’re 65 or younger.
- You can only invest in acceptable New Zealand investments.
- The investments must made through the New Zealand banking systems and must be from a validated source.
- You must have settlement funds of NZ$1 million available to prove that you can support yourself.
- You’ll have to demonstrate three years of business experience in:
- owning a business or being in a senior management position,
- within a business with an annual turnover of at least NZ$1 million, and
- with at least five full-time staff members.
- You have to spend at least 146 days of the last three years of your visa in New Zealand.
- You have to score enough points in your points test.
To apply for the Investor Plus visa instead, you’ll have to meet these criteria to emigrate to New Zealand:
- The investment must be in an acceptable New Zealand investment.
- The investment must come through the New Zealand banking system from a validated source.
- You must spend at least 44 days of the last three years of your visa in New Zealand.
You do not have to prove settlement funds or business experience, and you can apply for the Investor Plus visa at any age. Furthermore, you do not have to do a points test.
Read more about the investor visas.
6. To study in New Zealand
There’s no reason why you wouldn’t want to study in New Zealand! You’ll get to explore some of the most beautiful spots on our planet, live in the second safest country in the world, and get a world-class education.
6.1 You must have been accepted by an appropriate New Zealand educational provider
To join thousands of international students already in New Zealand, you’ll have to get accepted by an appropriate New Zealand educational provider. Their letter of acceptance must include:
- the name and contact details of the educational provider
- the course you’ll be attending and the duration of the course
- proof that your course and the educational provider meet New Zealand’s requirements
- the cost of the course and, if the course if longer than one year, the annual tuition fee
- the details of the person who’ll pay the tuition fees
- if the course if full time or part time
- confirmation of meeting the requirements under the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students
This is not all, though. You’ll also have to:
- have medical and travel insurance,
- prove that you can support yourself financially during your studies
- prove that you have the means to leave New Zealand once you’re done studying
Read more about the study visa.
Recapping the criteria to emigrate to New Zealand
There are many ways to make living, working, running a business or studying in New Zealand a reality. That is, if you can meet the requirements to do so:
- Work: The required skills, a New Zealand partner, or a partner with a work visa
- Joining your partner: A New Zealand partner, a partner with a work visa, or a partner with a study visa
- Joining your children: An adult child who is a New Zealand citizen or resident.
- Running a business: Capital, a business plan, good business character, and enough points
- Investing to get residence: Invest at least NZ$1.5 million for four years
- Studying: Acceptance from a recognised New Zealand educational provider
Want to find out if you meet the requirements to apply for any of these visas?
Qualifying for a visa is not as easy as ticking a couple of boxes. There are many factors that could influence your eligibility to immigrate. Your health, for instance. Most online assessments won’t take all of the necessary factors into consideration. A licensed advisor, however, will most certainly do so.
To speak to one of our licensed immigration advisors, please book an initial assessment online. This initial assessment is free and you’re under no obligation to use our services once you’ve done this assessment.
We also guarantee that you’ll get feedback within 1 hour. So within 60 minutes of completing your initial assessment, you’ll know if you stand a chance to emigrate to New Zealand.
What are you waiting for? Book your initial assessment right away!