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new zealand immigration glossaryImmigration to New Zealand is an adventure countless families from around the world undertake each year in search of a better life.

It’s no simple task though, this immigration business. Many hopeful immigrants don’t even know where to start!

The process isn’t made any simpler by the foreign terms and phrases found in immigration material.

That’s why we compiled this New Zealand immigration glossary, to help you understand various terminologies associated with emigrating to Australia’s neighbour.

Absolute skills shortage

Skilled occupations that New Zealand hasn’t had enough people to do for a long time. These occupations are listed on the Long Term Skills Shortage List.

Acceptable investment

An ‘acceptable’ investment is one that:

  • is able to make a commercial return
  • is not for your own personal use (such as a boat or personal residence)
  • is invested in New Zealand in New Zealand currency
  • is invested in lawful enterprises or managed funds that comply with all relevant laws in force in New Zealand
  • has the potential to contribute to New Zealand’s economy
  • is invested in any of the following:
    • bonds issued by the New Zealand government or local authorities
    • bonds issued by New Zealand firms traded on the New Zealand Debt Securities Market (NZDX)
    • bonds issued by New Zealand organisations with a BBB- rating or better (or equivalent) from an internationally recognised credit rating agency, eg Standard and Poor’s
    • equity in New Zealand firms (public or private including managed funds)
    • bonds issued by New Zealand registered banks
    • equities in New Zealand registered banks, as defined by the New Zealand Reserve Bank Act 1989
    • venture capital funds that are managed by a fund manager or broker and meet all the criteria for an acceptable investment
    • residential property development
    • bonds in finance companies

Acceptable qualification

An acceptable qualification for a post-study work visa:

  • Is a New Zealand qualification listed on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).
  • Involves 60 weeks of study at Levels 4 to 6, or 30 weeks or more of study at Level 7 and above.

Accredited employer

This is a New Zealand employer, who has accreditation to employ people under the New Zealand Work Policy, approved by the NZIS.

Adult child

This refers to a child who is 17 years of age or older.


The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations. It is published on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website and it is the system Immigration New Zealand use for skilled migration to check:

  • The skill levels of occupations
  • The qualifications and/or experience needed to work in occupations


Biometrics is a means of identifying and authenticating a person through features of that person’s body. The most common examples of this are:

  • Fingerprints.
  • Face structure (photos).

Certified copy

A photocopy stamped or signed by a person as a true copy of the original. The certifier must be authorized by law to take statutory declarations in your home country or in New Zealand. Examples of such persons are lawyers, Justice of the Peace, and court officials.

Civil union

Civil unions may be between partners of the same or opposite sex. A civil union has the same property and civil rights as a marriage.

Close family

You or your partner’s adult brothers or sisters, adult children or parents are considered close family members.

De facto partner

A person who is living in a genuine and stable relationship with their partner, for a minimum of 12 consecutive months.

EOI – Expression of Interest

When you are looking to immigrate to New Zealand, everything is dependent on your points score. This is obtained by an assessment in order to determine your eligibility.

The Expression of Interest (EOI) is the initial application stage for New Zealand immigration. Applicants under the skilled migration category will need to complete an Expression of Interest.

If you meet the criteria for the points score, you’ll be able to submit an Expression of Interest.

Essential Skills in Demand Lists

The Essential Skills in Demand Lists details the occupations in New Zealand in need of qualified and experienced talent. There are three lists:

  • Long Term Skills Shortage List
  • Immediate Skills Shortage List
  • Construction and Infrastructure Skills Shortage List

Full birth certificate

A full birth certificate includes your full name, you date and place of birth, and your parents’ full names.

Full-time job

A job where you work at least 30 hours a week.

Full-time study

Full-time study is where you either:

  • attend a course at a private training establishment for at least 20 hours a week; or
  • enroll for at least three papers, or equivalent, each semester at a University or Polytechnic, or a level 7 or higher qualification at a private training establishment.

Genuine and stable partnership

A relationship that has been entered into on a long term and exclusive basis, and that is likely to last.

Good health

To be eligible for immigration to New Zealand, you must be in good health which means you must meet certain health requirements as determined by Immigration New Zealand. You’ll be considered in good health if you’re:

  • Unlikely to be a danger to the health of the people already in New Zealand
  • Unlikely to be a financial burden on the New Zealand health or special education services
  • Able to work or study if this is the reason for your visa


The International English Language Testing System. You may be required to do this English language test to demonstrate that you can speak, read, write and listen in English.

Immigration Advisers Authority

People who give New Zealand immigration advice must be licensed with The Immigration Advisers Authority unless they are exempt. This is a requirement by law.


This is the acronym for Immigration New Zealand. INZ is part of the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and is responsible for border control, issuing travel visas and managing immigration to New Zealand.

Invitation to Apply

This simply refers to a stage of the skilled migration visa application process. If you meet certain criteria, you will receive an Invitation to Apply for a visa.

Labour market test

The labour market test is a test to establish whether:

  • an employer has made a genuine attempt to attract and recruit suitable New Zealanders for a job; and
  • if there are any suitable New Zealanders to do a job, or who can be trained to do a job.

When INZ carries out a labour market test, they’ll look at things like:

  • The employer’s reasons for not employing a New Zealander to do a job
  • Evidence of the employer’s recruitment attempts, like newspaper and internet advertising
  • Advice from Work and Income
  • Advice from industry groups, like unions

Licensed immigration adviser

Licensed immigration advisers for New Zealand have specialised expertise. They have met competency standards and they follow a professional code of conduct.

Advisers are able to help you in the following ways:

  • Explore your visa options
  • Prepare your visa application
  • Settle into New Zealand
  • Determine if you can appeal a declined visa
  • Determine your options if you are in New Zealand unlawfully

Managed funds

Funds that are invested in one of the following:

  • A managed fund investment product offered by a financial institution
  • Equities that are managed by a fund manager or broker

For INZ to accept managed funds as an investment, managed funds must be invested only in New Zealand companies. Managed funds with international exposure are acceptable only for the part of the investment that is invested in New Zealand companies.

Medical certificate

This is a document you get from a medical practitioner after you have completed a medical examination. The certificate tells INZ the results of that examination which INZ then use to determine whether you have an acceptable standard of health for immigration to New Zealand.

Migration points

The majority of visa options will require you to be assessed against a point’s criterion in order to determine if you qualify or not.

Minimum threshold

The minimum threshold is the lowest number of points you need to score for your Expression of Interest to enter the Expression of Interest pool. This threshold is currently set at 100 points.

New Zealand qualifications

Under the Skilled Migrant Category, you can qualify for bonus points for a recognised qualification that you have studied for and gained through a New Zealand institution such as a university or polytechnic. You can also qualify for bonus points for two years of full-time study in New Zealand towards a recognised qualification.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is a government agency responsible for:

  • Setting the standards for New Zealand qualifications and recognising overseas qualifications
  • Administering the New Zealand Qualifications Framework and assessing overseas qualifications against it

Non-principal applicants

Non-principal applicants are anyone included in a visa application that is not the principal applicant. For example, the applicant’s partner or dependent children.

Occupational registration

Registration with a New Zealand registration authority that allows you to work in a particular occupation in New Zealand.

Offer of employment

An offer of employment is a genuine and sustainable opportunity. The physical offer must include the following:

  • Name, address, telephone and/or fax number of the employer
  • Name and address of the person to whom the job offer is extended
  • A full job description including details such as the job title, the type of work, duties and responsibilities involved, and details pay and conditions of employment. Please note this is not the full set of criteria for the job description


A person you are legally married to, or in a civil union or de facto relationship with, and who you live with in a genuine and stable partnership. Partners can be of the same or opposite sex.

Principal applicant

This is the primary person who will be assessed against the criteria for a resident visa.

Recognised qualification

A certificate, degree or diploma that is officially sanctioned based on:

  • an assessment by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority that relates to the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF); and
  • its level on the NZQF as set out in the ‘List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment’; and
  • its level on the NZQF based on the applicant’s job registration in New Zealand (if that registration involves an assessment equal to a qualification on the ‘List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment’)


This refers to a person who holds a current New Zealand residence permit or alternatively a New Zealand returning resident’s visa.

Skilled employment

Employment that you need specialist, technical or management expertise and relevant qualifications and/or work experience to do, and which meets a minimum pay threshold.

Skilled migration

New Zealand requires a certain amount of skilled workers that it needs to attract from overseas. Individuals will need to meet a certain set of criteria in terms of their profession, experience, skills and qualifications. If these criteria are met, the applicant is classified as a skilled migrant.

Skilled work experience

Work experience that you can claim points for by showing you were suitably qualified before you started that work. You can read more about skilled work experience on INZ’s website.


A guarantee from a person, organisation or government agency to look after you while you visit, study, work or settle in New Zealand. If your stay is temporary, your sponsor must also guarantee the cost of your return home.

Sufficient funds for students

Full fee paying students must provide evidence they have enough money to live on while they are in New Zealand.

Evidence can include:

  • Bank statements showing funds held by or on behalf of the student that showing the equivalent of NZ $15,000 for a full year of study, or NZ $1,250 per month in New Zealand
  • A ‘Sponsorship Form for Temporary Entry’ completed by an acceptable sponsor
  • A completed ‘Financial Undertaking for a Student’ form.

Funds held by or on behalf of the student must be from a genuine source (such as the salary of the student’s parents) and be available to the student throughout their stay in New Zealand.

Student visa

If you wish to study in New Zealand as a foreign student, you will need to obtain a student visa for New Zealand.


Your New Zealand visa shows that you’re able to travel to, enter and stay in New Zealand temporarily or indefinitely.

Visa waiver country

If you are coming from a visa waiver country to New Zealand, you will not need to obtain a visitor’s visa before you travel.


An activity you perform for which you are remunerated either in salary or wagers, or another benefit like accommodation, food or transport. There are certain activities which are not considered as ‘work’ – please consult with our advisers if you’d like to find out what these activities are.

Work to Residence

You may have outstanding talent in a certain area, such as sports, art or culture. You could then apply to work in New Zealand under the Work to Residence programme.

This will help you gain access to being able to work on a temporary basis in New Zealand. The work visa obtained in this regard can be used as a tool to gain permanent residency.



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