Traveling to New Zealand on vacation is a straightforward process for Americans and Canadians. New Zealand offers visa waivers for residents of these countries as well as many others. You don’t have to apply for a visa or pay an immigration levy for visits of three months or less: you’ll simply be asked to fill in an arrival card before passing through customs.
In general, visitors to New Zealand must provide proof they have enough money to live on during their time in New Zealand and that they have a ticket—or the means of purchasing one—out of the country. For visa-waiver countries, visitors must also be “in good health and of good character.” Travelers are able to return to New Zealand on a visa waiver as often as they like, as long as their stay in the country does not exceed six months in any 12-month period.
If you’d like to consider living in New Zealand on a more permanent basis, keep in mind that your options for doing so are based around study, work, investment, or joining family.
Investing is generally the most straightforward option for expats who don’t have family in the country or are near retirement age. New Zealand offers two tiered visas for those who can provide substantial economic investment:
- The Investor 2 Resident Visa, which requires an investment of NZ$1.5 million ($1,044,148) over a four-year period (applicants must be 65 or under); or
- The Investor 1 Resident Visa, which requires an investment of NZ$10 million ($6,946,729) over three years (no age limit).
Temporary Retirement Visitor Visa
A Temporary Retirement Visitor Visa is available for expats who are aged 66 or over. While this visa is only valid for two years, it can be renewed and covers applicants as well as their partners.
Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa
There are a number of visas available for expats who are interested in moving to New Zealand for work. The most popular option is the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa, which enables successful applicants to live and work in the country indefinitely. Your skills, experience, and qualifications will be the main determining factors in your eligibility for this visa, which is allocated on a points-based system. Applicants with a job offer have substantially higher chances of being accepted, as do those who find work outside of Auckland. You’ll need to be 55 or younger to apply for this visa, undergo a medical exam, and provide relevant background checks.
Obtaining New Zealand residence can be a fairly drawn-out process, and it’s well worth researching the financial, time, and emotional commitment involved before making the decision to apply. Once you’ve received the green light from Immigration, however, you have the right to live, work, apply for loans, and receive medical treatment on par with any New Zealander. Residents who have lived in the country for one or more years continuously even have the right to vote. For expats interested in truly becoming a part of the Kiwi community, gaining residence is your best option for turning New Zealand into a home away from home.