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Our knowledge base contains answers to our frequently asked questions.

The following people can live in New Zealand permanently:

  • New Zealand citizens
  • New Zealand passport holders
  • holders of New Zealand resident visas
  • holders of Australian passports
  • Australian citizens with an Australian Declaratory visa endorsed in a foreign passport
  • holders of valid Australian permanent resident or valid Australian resident return visas

Section 14 of the Immigration Act 2009 requires persons other than New Zealand citizens to hold a visa to travel to and be in New Zealand.

In most cases, a visa is required if you wish to work, study or permanently live in New Zealand. You may need to apply for a visitor visa if you intend to stay temporarily in New Zealand, but you don’t intend to study or work.

If you are travelling on a passport from a country that is on our visa waiver list, you can enter New Zealand as a visitor without a visa depending on how long you want to stay, and subject to meeting entry requirements at border. If you are not from a visa waiver country, you will need to apply for a visa.

From 1 October 2019, if you are from a visa waiver country you will need to hold an NZeTA before travelling to New Zealand.


Visa Waiver Countries

Visa Waiver Visitor Visa

There are a number of visa options available for people who wish to enter New Zealand. For more information get in touch with us.

How long it takes to process a visa application

Average processing times

Find out how many calendar days it has taken Immigration New Zealand to process applications for most common visas in the 3 months to 1 March 2020. For applications that take more than 90 days they have rounded that number to the nearest month. For example, if applications takes 110 days, we say it takes 4 months.

Visitor visa

Visa 50% of applications completed within: 75% of applications completed within: 90% of applications completed within:
Visitor (holiday) 14 days 28 days 36 days

Student visas

Visa 50% of applications completed within: 75% of applications completed within: 90% of applications completed within:
Fee Paying Student 15 days 31 days 47 days
Variation of conditions on a student visa 11 days 19 days 29 days

Work visas

Visa 50% of applications completed within: 75% of applications completed within: 90% of applications completed within:
Essentials Skills 18 days 37 days 64 days
Partner of a New Zealander 63 days 5 months 7 months
Partner of student 46 days 3 months 6 months
Partner of worker 24 days 46 days 89 days
Post-study work visa 12 days 19 days 31 days
Variation of conditions on a work visa 10 days 18 days 29 days

Residence visas

Visa 50% of applications completed within: 75% of applications completed within: 90% of applications completed within:
Partner of a New Zealander 8 months 9 months 10 months
Permanent Resident Visa 8 days 12 days 20 days
Skilled Migrant 7 months 13 months 17 months
Transfer of visa to new passport 4 days 9 days 15 days
Variation of travel conditions on a resident visa 7 days 14 days 26 days

Visa applications are generally processed according to the date they are received. Processing times are available on the Immigration New Zealand website.

How long it takes to process a visa application

Some applications are quicker to process than others as they do not require as much verification. For instance, applicant is offered a role on one of our skill shortage lists and they meets the criteria for the list, the Immigration Officer processing the application will not need to assess the availability of New Zealand citizens or resident to do the work. This should reduce the processing time.

Skill shortage list checker

If you have an employer-specific visa application in process, you can request priority allocation through our Employment Visa Escalations (EVE) process. The processing office will then assess if priority should or can be given to the application.

Employment Visa Escalations (EVE)

We also have specific allocation priorities for the allocation of Skilled Migrant Category and Residence from Work Category applications.

INZ is making changes to how we prioritise some resident visa applications

On 17 September 2019, the Minister of Immigration announced changes to employer assisted temporary work visa categories that will take place over the following 18 months.

Changes to temporary work visas

An IRD number is a unique number given to you by New Zealand’s Inland Revenue Department.

It is used by Inland Revenue, banks and financial institutions, government departments and employers to identify you for tax purposes.

You will need an IRD number if:

  • You become an employee in New Zealand, working on a work visa or student visa
  • You are starting a business in New Zealand
  • You open a New Zealand bank account
  • You are registering for Working for Families Tax Credits
  • You are registering for a student loan
  • Your child has a part-time job
  • You file tax returns
  • You apply for child support

You can apply for an IRD number online or by completing an IRD number application form (IR742).

Apply for individual IRD number

You will need a New Zealand bank account before you apply for your IRD number.

The IRD application form is asking me for an Immigration New Zealand application number. I already hold a resident visa.  What do I provide?

You can provide your Resident Visa application number that was assigned to you when you submitted your application to Immigration New Zealand.

Learn more and apply for an IRD number

I an from Australia and do not have an application number. What do I provide?

Australian citizens can enter their passport number instead of an application number.

Australian permanent resident visa holders may need to apply using the hardcopy (paper) form.

International students have several opportunities to gain work experience and supplement their funds while studying.

Under certain circumstances, student visa holders may work part-time and/or full-time (during scheduled vacations), or to meet course requirements for practical work experience.

Working on a student visa

If your circumstances make you eligible for these work rights but your current student visa does not have conditions in it allowing you to work, you may apply for a variation of conditions to request the work rights are added to the visa.

Variation of conditions

If you have not yet applied for a student visa and you believe your programme of study means you will be eligible for work rights, you can include information about the scheduled vacation dates with your visa application. This may be included in your offer of place or you can include the course calendar with the application.

Your immigration officer can then assess your eligibility and include any work conditions into your student visa (if approved) without the need for a separate application.

Study in New Zealand

It may also be possible for students to work in New Zealand after they have completed their studies. Certain courses may mean you are eligible for a post-study work visa after the course is completed.

Staying to work after study

If you have finished your course and still hold student visa, you may be able to continue to work.

If you have been granted a student visa valid until 31 March and the student visa conditions state:

  • May work up to 20 hours per week
  • May work full-time during summer vacation
  • May work full-time during scheduled vacations

Then you may work full-time from the date your course ends up until the expiry date of the visa (31 March).

Work rights for holders of student visas valid until 31 March

If you have finished your course and still hold student visa but your visa does not meet the above conditions, you may still be eligible to work up to 20 hours per week provided this is included in your visa conditions.

If you are unsure, it is important that you contact us to avoid any breaches of your visa conditions.

If a person lodges an appeal with the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT),  can they obtain a temporary entry visa to await the IPT decision in New Zealand?

Our process here depends on the type of appeal that has been lodged.

For instance:

  • If the appeal is against liability for deportation, granting a visa would void the appeal.
    In this situation, the Immigration Officer on receiving the visa application or section 61 request will normally discuss options with the applicant and then decide a course of action.
  • If the appeal is against a declined resident visa application, the applicant will need to demonstrate why it is necessary for them to remain in New Zealand for the outcome of the appeal.

If you do not leave New Zealand before your visa expires

Deportation liability and appeal rights

New Zealand citizens and residents, and organisations like registered companies, incorporated societies and charitable trusts, and government agencies can sponsor visa applications. Sponsorship doesn’t guarantee that we’ll grant a visa – people who have sponsors still have to meet other visa requirements.

Acceptable sponsors

A sponsor can be any one of the following:

  • an individual New Zealand citizen
  • an individual New Zealand residence class visa holder – as long as their visa has no section 49 conditions
  • an organisation registered in New Zealand as a company, incorporated society or charitable trust
  • a government agency, including agents and entities like tertiary institutions and school boards of trustees.


For us to consider an individual an acceptable sponsor, they must meet all of the following criteria:

  • live in New Zealand for the term of the sponsorship (unless an exception applies)
  • not be sponsoring for a financial reward or fee
  • never have been convicted of an offence under immigration law
  • not have an outstanding debt to the Crown or other third parties as a result of another sponsorship arrangement
  • not have previously breached sponsorship obligations
  • not have entered into insolvency procedures or be bankrupt
  • not be liable for deportation
  • not be serving a custodial sentence, eg prison or be waiting to be sentenced after being convicted of a crime that carries a custodial sentence.

The profit employers expect to make from an employee’s work doesn’t exclude them from being acceptable sponsors.

Extra criterion for sponsoring student visa applications

Individuals sponsoring a student must be a family member or friend of the student.

Students who are in New Zealand and who are applying for a further student visa as a fee paying tertiary student, can only be sponsored if their first student visa was sponsored. Sponsorship must be by the same person or organization that acted as the sponsor for the initial visa application.

Extra criteria for sponsoring resident visa applications

Individuals who wish to sponsor a resident visa, must also:

  • live in New Zealand
  • have been New Zealand citizen or resident for at least 3 years
  • have spent 184 days in New Zealand in each of the last 3 years.

If needed, we will use our records to confirm a sponsor’s time spent in New Zealand as a New Zealand citizen or resident.


For us to consider a sponsoring organisation an acceptable sponsor, it must:

  • be registered in New Zealand as a company, incorporated society or charitable trust
  • show a clear link between its activities and the reason the sponsored person is coming to New Zealand
  • not be sponsoring for a financial reward or fee
  • never have been convicted of an offence under immigration law
  • not have any listed directors, trustees or management who have been convicted of an offence under immigration law
  • not have an outstanding debt to the Crown or other third parties as a result of another sponsorship arrangement
  • not have previously breached sponsorship obligations
  • not be in receivership or liquidation
  • authorise a contact person to represent them who will be responsible for the sponsorship undertakings.

Evidence of acceptable sponsorship

Before we accept a sponsorship arrangement we need evidence that sponsors can meet their responsibilities and obligations. Sponsors needs to show us:

  • for individuals, that they’re a New Zealand citizen or resident
  • for organisations, that they’re a registered company, incorporated society, or charitable trust
  • they have enough money to cover the living costs of the person or people they’re sponsoring, like food and healthcare
  • they have either enough money to pay for accommodation, or can provide accommodation directly – we’ll need evidence that the sponsor owns, or has a rental agreement for the property where the sponsored person will stay while in New Zealand, unless the sponsored person is paying for their own accommodation
  • they have enough money to pay for the sponsored person or people’s return travel home, unless they’re providing their own funds
  • for sponsors who wish to guarantee the costs of maternity health services in New Zealand for a pregnant woman, that they have at least NZ$9,000 available to cover these costs.

Sponsorship responsibilities (undertakings)

Sponsors must agree to:

  • make sure the sponsored person has the things necessary for their health and welfare while in New Zealand, like food, clothing and health care
  • make sure the sponsored person has somewhere suitable to stay while in New Zealand, whether the sponsor provides it directly, or pays for it
  • pay the cost of the sponsored person’s return travel to their home country, if the sponsored person doesn’t
  • if the sponsored person becomes liable for deportation, pay any costs associated with deportation, like for locating, detaining and sending the person home.

Sponsors can agree to sponsor a person’s partner and dependent children too. If they agree to do this, they’ll also be responsible for covering these same costs for the partner and dependent children of the sponsored person.

Even if the sponsored person has agreed to provide all or some of their own funds, the sponsor is still legally responsible for providing for them if needed.

Sponsors can also choose to guarantee the costs of maternity health services in New Zealand if the sponsored person is pregnant and intending to give birth in New Zealand.

When sponsorship begins and ends

Sponsorship begins from the date the sponsored person arrives in New Zealand, or if they are already in New Zealand, the date their visa is granted.

It ends on whichever of the following dates happen first:

  • the date the sponsored person is granted a new visa (either with a new, or no sponsor)
  • the date the sponsored person leaves New Zealand.

Sponsors can’t withdraw their sponsorship. It continues even if the sponsored person stays in New Zealand unlawfully after their visa expires. Sponsors who sponsor multiple entry visa applications, are responsible for their sponsorship undertakings every time the sponsored person is in New Zealand on that visa.

When sponsors don’t meet their obligations

If sponsors don’t meet their sponsorship obligations, the person they’re sponsoring can be deported.

If sponsors leave their sponsorship obligations to be paid by a third party or the New Zealand government, their obligations will become a debt. If the debt remains unpaid, sponsors can be pursued for it in court, even if the person they’re sponsoring:

  • is no longer in New Zealand, or
  • is in New Zealand unlawfully, or
  • has a new visa.

The Parent and Grandparent Visitor Visa category allows the parent or grandparent of a New Zealand citizen or resident to apply for a three year multiple entry visitor visa.

Parent and Grandparent Visitor Visa

The Parent and Grandparent Visitor Visa will have multiple entry conditions and generally be valid for 3 years from the date of issue. It will allow a stay of up to 6 months per visit to New Zealand, with an overall maximum stay of 18 months over the 3 year period the visa is valid for.

This type of visa can only be applied for from outside of New Zealand and cannot be processed in New Zealand.

The partner of a parent or grandparent may be included in the application; however, a dependent child (or children) of the parent or grandparent cannot be included. They must apply in their own right under a different Visitor Visa category.

Lodging a residence application does not mean you can let your temporary class visa expire.

You must be on a valid visa at all times while in New Zealand. If your temporary visa expires while your residence is in process, you are liable for deportation.

If your temporary entry class visa expires while in New Zealand, the processing of your residence application must be suspended under section 169(3) of the Immigration Act 2009.

View section 169(3)

Before your current visa expires, you can:

  • obtain a further temporary class visa to remain in NZ longer; or
  • depart New Zealand and wait for your resident visa decision offshore (please advise your immigration officer of your contact details in this case).

To obtain a further visa, you must meet the current policy requirements of the visa type you wish to apply for. Refer to the visit, study and work sections of our website for more information.

Explore visitor visas

Explore study visas

Explore work visas

There is a special process for work visa holders who are applying for an Essential Skills work visa and who have during this time submitted an Expression of Interest which has been selected or have been Invited to Apply for a Resident Visa under the Skilled Migrant category which will be considered for you. This is explained on our Invitation to apply page.

Invitation to Apply

On 17 September 2019, the Minister of Immigration announced changes to employer assisted temporary work visa categories that will take place over the next 18 months.

Changes to temporary work visas

If you wish to attend a different course, different institute or different location than the one your student visa is granted for, you must first apply for a variation of conditions  (or a further student visa).

You may be required to provide evidence to demonstrate that you continue to meet student instructions and we will need to consider if you would have been granted a student visa initially for that course of study or provider.

If you withdraw from your course of study and/or education provider before obtaining authority to do so, you will be in breach of your visa conditions.

Applicants who breach their visa conditions may not ordinarily be granted further visas (or a variation of conditions) and may be liable for deportation and required to leave New Zealand.

If you apply for a variation of conditions to your existing student visa, this will not change the expiry date of your visa.

If your visa will be expiring soon, you may prefer to apply for a whole new student visa instead.

Varying the conditions of a student visa

Immigration New Zealand only handles immigration into New Zealand, we can not provide information on the requirements for other countries.

You will need to contact the Embassy/High Commission of the country you wish to enter (such as Australia) for further information on their immigration policies.

Embassy/High Commission details

Australian citizens and permanent residents may qualify for a Permanent Resident Visa (PRV) provided they have held a Resident Visa continuously for more than 24 months, and have met the Permanent Resident Visa criteria.

However, Resident Visas held by Australians expire upon exit from New Zealand, so travelling in and out of New Zealand can affect the requirement that the Resident Visa must be held for two years continuously.

If an Australian citizen or permanent resident is in New Zealand on a Resident visa and wishes to apply for a Permanent Resident Visa in the future, they should make an application for a Variation of Travel Conditions (VOTC) if they wish to travel in the meantime. The travel conditions may be granted for 24 months from their last date of arrival into New Zealand as a resident.

Permanent Resident Visa

Variation of travel conditions

Your family will need to apply for visas of their own in order to be in New Zealand with you.

If you want your partner (spouse or de facto) to join you in New Zealand, they may apply for a Partner of a Student Work Visa or a Partner of a Student Visitor Visa, provided that they meet certain policy requirements.

Partner of a Student work visa

Partner of a Student visitor visa

Your dependent children may apply for a visitor visa, or a student visa if they are attending school. In some cases your child may be considered an international student, so international school fees may apply.

Fee Paying student visa

Dependent Child student visa

Child of a Student visitor visa

To find out if you will need to pay international school fees for your child to attend school in New Zealand, you can refer to the article ‘If I am on a work or student visa, will my child have to pay foreign student fees to study here?’

If I am on a work or student visa, will my child have to pay foreign student fees to study here?

An Interim visa may be granted to you to maintain your lawful status in New Zealand, if you hold a valid temporary visa (work, student or visitor visa) and you have applied for a further temporary visa (work, student or visitor visa).

An Interim visa will not be granted where a person holds a valid temporary visa and has only applied for a Resident visa.

How can I get an Interim visa?

If you hold a temporary visa and have applied for another temporary visa (of certain types), we will make an assessment for an Interim visa shortly before the expiry of your current visa. In most cases an Interim visa will be granted automatically by electronic means, and there is no fee and no visa label.

People who are granted Interim visas will be notified by email or by letter one week before their current visa expires.

Your Interim visa will expire:

  • when we approve your application and grant you a visa; or
  • 21 days after your application is declined or withdrawn; or
  • after 6 months, if no decision has been made in 6 months

Can I work/study while on an Interim visa?

Whether you can work or study is shown by the conditions of the Interim visa. These conditions depend on the visa you held previously, and the type and conditions of the visa you applied for.

Interim visa conditions

I have more questions about Interim visas

You can find more information about Interim visas on INZ Interim visa page.

Information about Interim visas

Living and/or working in New Zealand

If the ultimate goal is to live together permanently in New Zealand, the overseas partner will need to obtain a resident visa. We have a specific Family category of residence available to such applicants.

There are a set of requirements that the couple must meet before a resident visa can be granted.

Partner of a New Zealander resident visa

The overseas partner may also apply for a Partner of a New Zealander work visa if they can show sufficient evidence of living together in a stable and genuine relationship together with the New Zealand partner.

Partner of a New Zealander work visa

This visa would allow you to travel to New Zealand to continue living together, or to remain living together in New Zealand while waiting for the Partner of a New Zealander resident visa application to be decided.

If you are waiting for the resident visa decision in New Zealand, please note that the overseas partner must be on a valid visa at all times. In some cases this means you may need to apply for a further work visa if your current one is about to expire.

The process of renewing a temporary class visa (such as work visa) is the same as when you applied for it the first time. The processing officer will need to see all relevant evidence again to make sure you still meet the policy requirements.

Studying in New Zealand

If the overseas partner wishes to study in New Zealand before obtaining a resident visa, they must apply for a student visa. In this case, general student policy must be met and international student fees may be payable.

Fee Paying student visa

Temporary visit

If your trip to New Zealand is only temporary, such as a holiday or visiting friends and family, a visitor visa may be appropriate. This could be the Partner of a New Zealander visitor visa (with support from your New Zealand citizen or resident partner) or a general visitor visa.

Partner of a New Zealander visitor visa

Visitor visa

If you are from a visa waiver country and your stay will be less than three months (or less than six months if you are a UK citizen), you may not need to apply for a visitor visa. If this situation applies to you, please make sure you are familiar with requirements for visa waiver visitors.

Visa Waiver visitor visa


It is not generally appropriate to travel to New Zealand as a visa waiver visitor if your intention is to remain in New Zealand long-term. In these situations, we advise that you obtain a visa appropriate to your intentions prior to travelling to New Zealand.