New Zealand permanent residency

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New Zealand Permanent Residents are residents of New Zealand, who hold a permanent resident visa, which - superficially seen - makes them equal to New Zealand citizens. A permanent resident visa must not be confused with a resident visa.

This article refers to the terms “resident” and “permanent resident” only in the scope of immigration purposes and describes the current situation based on the Immigration Act 2009. There are other definitions for residents in tax or electoral affairs.

Similarities between a resident and a permanent resident visa[edit]

The holder of any resident class visa is entitled[1]

  • to travel to New Zealand at any time
  • to stay in New Zealand indefinitely
  • to work in New Zealand or in the exclusive economic zone of New Zealand
  • to study in New Zealand
  • to vote in elections[2][3]
  • to receive subsidized health care[4]
  • to subsidized study fees for domestic students[5]
  • to receive social security benefit
  • to sponsor a partner, parents or children during their visa application[6]

Differences between a resident and a permanent resident visa[edit]

A permanent resident visa holder is entitled to be granted entry permission at the border at any time, while the resident visa holder is only entitled to apply for entry permission (whether before or after travelling to New Zealand). All other rights become only effective, if entry is granted to the resident visa holder.[7]

Generally, a resident visa is issued with travel conditions, which allow the holder to re-enter the country multiple times until these conditions expire. After that the holder may remain in the country legally but must not leave it or lose its resident status.

Requirements to obtain a permanent residence visa[edit]

An applicant for a permanent resident visa must

  • hold or have held a resident visa in the last three month
  • hold, or have held that resident visa for at least two years continuously
  • be of good character
  • have met any conditions that the resident visa was subject to
  • have met one of five commitment to New Zealand criteria

Commitment to New Zealand can be met by spending enough time in the country, by becoming a tax resident, by owning a business, by investing in New Zealand or by establishing a base.[8]

Differences between a permanent resident and New Zealand citizen[edit]

In contrary to a New Zealand permanent resident a New Zealand citizen

  • is entitled to hold and travel on a New Zealand passport
  • must never be deported from New Zealand
  • can stand for public office
  • do not need a visa for their return to New Zealand
  • is entitled to New Zealand consular protection overseas
  • may represent New Zealand at international sport events[9]
  • is entitled to live and work in Australia indefinitely[10]

Pathways to a permanent resident visa[edit]

The way to a permanent resident visa always leads through a 2 year resident visa. In any case you will need to be invited to apply for a resident visa by Immigration NZ. Currently there are the following categories through one can obtain a resident visa:

  • Skilled Migrant Category (for highly skilled professional people)[11]
  • Work to Residence Category (for people that have worked for 2 years on a work visa)[12]
  • Business Category (for people that want to start their own business)[13]
  • Investment Category (for people that want to invest a large amount of funds in New Zealand)[14]
  • Family Category (for partners, children or parents of New Zealand citizens or resident visa holders)[15]
  • Samoan Quota Category (for Samoan Citizens)[16]
  • Pacific Access Quota (for citizens of Tonga, Tuvalu or Kiribati)[17]

Also, every Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident holder is issued a resident visa on arrival in New Zealand.[18]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]