Ways of moving to New Zealand for permanent living

I was asked about them so many times so I decided to write a small guide about ways to immigrate in New Zealand. Post image is not randomly selected and represents hiden meaning.. Please read, share with your friends and don’t say that you missed it! 🙂 P.s Just in case, for your attention: I’m not immigration adviser and all information below is just my interpretation of manuals which I read on Immigration New Zealand web site combined with my own expereience plus experience of my friends and acquaintances.




To stay in New Zealand permanently, you have to get one of following residences:

  • Skilled Migrant Category Residence
  • Residense from Work
  • Family Residence
  • Refugee Family Support Category Residence
  • Invest Residence
  • Entrepreneurs Residence

Skilled Migrant Category Residence

SMC gives you an opportunity to move and work in New Zealand permanently and designed for people who have the skills, qualifications and experience New Zealand needs.


To apply for Skilled Migrant Category Visa you must:

First step to get Skilled Migrant Category visa is completion of online form Expression of Interest (EOI). Minimal amount of points to participate is 100, however, in order to accept your application automatically, you have to get no less than 140, which is quite a difficult task. I don’t recommend you to submit your EOI if you don’t have enough points, because probability that you spend 6 month without any luck and waste $510 NZD is quite high. For example, in September 2015 was selected 867 EOI and only 142 of them had less than 140 points.
❗ A significant increase in points can be reached if you have skilled employment or job offer from New Zealand employee and also claimed bonus points for experience in absolute skill shortage list
Update: from 12 October 2016 the points threshold for automatic selection has been increased from 140 to 160 (regardless of whether an applicant has a job offer).

If you your Expression of Interest selected, second step is to complete Invitation to Apply received from immigration services, and return it to them with your supporting documents.

Even if you have enough points and your EOI accepted, there is no 100% guarantee to get SMC visa, because any problems or questions may occur (health, qualification, etc) which can result in getting your visa declined. If immigration services have a doubt that you can find a job being a resident in New Zealand thay may grant you Skilled Migrant Category Job Search Visa upto 9 month, after which you may be granted residence if you get skilled full time job.

Time frames for getting visa: from 3 month and more depending from how much documents you have provided.
Visa fees: $510 NZD EOI + Migrant Levy $310 NZD per person + $1810 NZD Skilled Migrant fee.



Residense from Work

Designed for people who have been working in New Zealand for at least two years after being granted a work visa under the Work to Residence Category. Do a quick check of the minimum criteria to see if you qualify for Residence from Work.

The requirements section will tell you in detail the requirements that you, your partner and any dependent children you want to include on your residence application must meet.

Work to Residence visa designed for people who got a job offer in New Zealand from Long Term Skill Shortage List or have talents in the arts, culture or sports. Basically this is alternative visa for those who can’t apply for Skilled Migrant Category Visa because lack of points, for example, when you have skilled experience but you don’t have skilled qualification; and also for people, talented in sports, arts and culture.
Requirements for working towards residence in New Zealand are located here

Time frames for getting visa: 5 to 15 working days depending on which branch you apply
Visa fees: $360 NZD.

Family Residence

A family member who is already a New Zealand citizen or resident can sponsor you to come to New Zealand if you are their:

  • Partner – you are the husband, wife, defacto or civil union partner of a New Zealand citizen or resident
  • Dependent child – you are a dependent child with a parent who is a New Zealand citizen or resident
  • parent – you have a child who is a New Zealand citizen or resident

Refugee Family Support Category Residence

The objective of the Refugee Family Support Category is to help refugees living in New Zealand to settle by allowing them to sponsor family members for residence. We welcome 300 sponsored people (including their partners and dependent children) to settle in New Zealand each year under the Refugee Family Support Category. Well, nuff to said!



Invest Residence

People wishing to invest funds in a business and live in New Zealand can apply for residence under: Investor or Investor Plus. Investor category assumes you to invest $1.5 million NZD for 4 years and show $1 million NZD as settlement funds. Also, you have to stay in New Zealand for at least 146 days for last 3 of 4 years. You have to be 65 or under and pass IELTS sertificate for modest 3 points 🙂 Applying is similar to Skilled Migrant Category – first step is compliting EOI. There are 300 Investor visas issued each year.

Second category, Investor Plus assumes you to invest $10 million NZD and has no requirements for your age, buisiness experience, English language like the first one has. You have to stay in New Zealand for at least 44 days for last 2 of 3 years. Applicants under both categories must meet health and character requirements.

An acceptable investment means an investment that:

  • is capable of a commercial return under normal circumstances, and
  • is not for the personal use of the applicant(s) (see What is meant by personal use of investment funds? below), and
  • is invested in New Zealand in New Zealand currency, and
  • is invested in lawful enterprises or managed funds that comply with all relevant laws in force in New Zealand, and
  • has the potential to contribute to New Zealand’s economy, and
  • is invested in either one or more of the following:
    • bonds issued by the New Zealand government or local authorities, or
    • bonds issued by New Zealand firms traded on the New Zealand Debt Securities Market (NZDX), or
    • bonds issued by New Zealand firms with at least a BBB- or equivalent rating from internationally recognised credit rating agencies (for example, Standard and Poor’s), or
    • equity in New Zealand firms (public or private including managed funds), or
    • bonds issued by New Zealand registered banks
    • equities in New Zealand registered banks
    • residential property development

Despite it seems pretty easy to immigrate as investor, it is not, because you have to retain your funds in acceptable investments during period of 3 years for Investor Plus residents and 4 years for Investor residents, you have to meet the requirements for minimum time spent in New Zealand and you have to provide evidence of that at the end of your investment period, otherwise you and your family members included in your application may be liable for deportation.

Entrepreneurs Residence

The Entrepreneur Residence Category enables migrants who have established high growth and innovative businesses with export potential to be granted residence. There are two ways of qualifying for residence under the Entrepreneur Residence Category: the 2 year option and the 6 month option (if they meet extra conditions).

Entrepreneur Residence Category (2 years)
If you have successfully established or purchased a business in New Zealand, you have been self-employed in that business for at least two years, and your business has benefited New Zealand significantly, you may be eligible for residence in New Zealand under the Entrepreneur Residence Category (2 years).

Entrepreneur Residence Category (6 months)
This option provides a faster track to residence for applicants who have been running a high value business for at least six months. As well as meeting general health and character and English language requirements, to gain residence under this category, you must:

  • hold an an Entrepreneur Work Visa or Long Term Business (LTBV)
  • have successfully established or purchased a business in New Zealand
  • have been self-employed in that business for six months
  • have invested at least NZ$0.5 million in the business, and
  • have created a minimum of three new fulltime jobs for New Zealand citizens or residents

Compare the basic criteria of the two Entrepreneur Residence Categories options


Now we are moving to mai part, ways to get residence in New Zealand via Skilled Migrant Category or Residence from Work
I will skipFamily, Refugee и Invest Residence because you know why. The most hard thing for those who have skilled qualification and/or skilled experience is the job search in my opinion. Below I have listed most common ways:

Remote job search

Search job in New Zealand being outside the country, find an employee who give you skilled employment job offer you so much need to gain 140 points required for your EOI accepted or to use when you apply for Work to Residence visa. You have to be very skilled and experienced specialist or have remote work experience (freelance, contract etc) for New Zealand company who is happy to be sponsor of your working visa. Success is dependant on your qualification, your skills, experience and language abilities – most employees prefer to have face-to-face interview.

Apart from this, you have to understand that New Zealand protects its own citizens: foreigners may get work if and only if he doesn’t compete with locals, I mean employee which is interested to hire foreign worker has to prove that he was searching but couldn’t find approprite specialist withing the country except the case when your occupation is in Long-term Skill Shortage list because it is obvious already there is a shortage here and right now!

Basically there is no special secret here: search for a skilled employment, send resume, pass interview, get job offer and apply for

  • Skilled Migrant Category visa if you reached enough points to be automatically selected and your employee is agree to wait few months while you’re getting residence visa
  • otherwise apply for Work to Residence visa, arrive in New Zealand, start working and then apply for Skilled Migrant Category if again you reached enough points to be automatically selected or whait for two years and apply for Residence from Work

    • Time frames for getting visa: 15 working days.
      Visa fees: $360 NZD.



      Silver Fern

      Get Silver Fern Visa which is designed to bring young (20-35 years) skilled people to New Zealand. Silver Fern quota is available once in a year via special web site and allows holder entering New Zealand for 9 months to search for skilled employment. Only 300 places are limited per year. Silver Fern is a some kind of US Green Card, with only one difference it is not granted in random order, but only first 300 entries. Also it doesn’t grant you a residense automatically but provides an opportunity to enter New Zealand and search for a job during 9 months. Then, when you get job offer, you have to apply for Silver Fern Practical Experience and then you can apply to Work Visa or Skilled Migrant Category. Despite low probability of winning, Silver Fern in my opinion is the most effective and fast ways to move and work in New Zealand. You can read success story about winning SF visa and getting job offer here.


      Time frames for getting visa: few months.
      Visa fees: 6900RUB online form + 1900RUB service fee.

      Studying in New Zealand

      Apply for a student visa, arrive in the country, get a diploma, search and get a job offer. This might be:

      • Studying Level 7 for at least 30 weeks or studying Level 4-6 for at least 60 weeks for qualification from Long Term Skill Shortage List after which you get open Work Search Visa valid for 1 year, which is a great advantage, plus, those studying Level 7, can bring dependant kids and partner which may have granted Work visa, find a job and earn money while you are getting qualification. Main disadvantage is the high tuition fees for international students, approximately $18,000 NZD for one-year programm in institute.
      • Studying Enlglish on some language courses and going for job interviews (if you have skilled qualification and experience) and get a job offer. Main disadvantages are: 1) you may be granted limited student visa (re-entry required before applying to another type visa or get your visa cancelled at all if you can’t prove that the main goal of your visiting is improving your English 2) your attendance shouldn’t be less then 85% 3) it requires lots of time and money because you have to buy language courses, arrive in New Zealand, find accomodation, and so on and moreover, most of employees wont have a deal with student visa and provie sponsorship for work visa


      Time frames for getting visa: from 15 working day to few month depending on branch you apply
      Visa fees: $250 NZD.

      Arriving as a visitor

      Agree with an employee about face-to-face interview for particular dates, get a visitor visa and arrive into country or do not agree and fly at your’s own risk, pass an interview, get a job offer, and apply for Work or Skilled Migrant visa (re-entry required). The validity period of the visa depends on the amount of declared funds (~ 1200NZD one month), your plan “what I’m going to do in New Zealand during my visit” (since you still are going to travel, is not it?) and how lucky you are. Perhaps the most turbid of all these ways to move, however, some people succeeded.

      Time frames for getting visa: from 15 working days to few months.
      Visa fees: $0 NZD for russian citizens.



      That’s it folks! Good luck to all 🙂

      Useful urls:

      Skill shortage list check
      Self-Assessment Guide for Residence in New Zealand
      The Immigration New Zealand (INZ) Operational Manual
      Calculate visa fee

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      Ivan Grigoryev's Blog
      Living in New Zealand. Blogging about the country, beautiful places, everyday life.
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