The criteria for obtaining a visa for New Zealand is determined by the New Zealand Government’s Immigration Policy (known as "instructions"). Those instructions set out the Government’s broad objectives for immigration. The criteria represent the balancing of competing forces of economic growth, cost to the State, security and equity/fairness.
There are Two Classes of Visa: “Residence” and “Temporary Entry”
The main categories of application for residency or PR are as follows:
- Business Category Applications
- Family Category Applications
- Skilled Migrants
- Residence from Work
Temporary Visas are visitor, work and student visas permitting short term temporary stay but not a right to an indefinite stay.
It is well known that many high quality migrants who would potentially provide enormous benefit to New Zealand are declined residence visas. This is often as a result of poor immigration advice and/or representation or Immigration New Zealand simply getting it wrong.
Business Category Applications
Business Category has several sub-categories known as Investor 1 & 2, Entrepreneur Work and Residence Visa, Employee of a Relocating Business.
These types of visas are suitable for those seeking to invest or operate their own business in New Zealand.
Investor Category migrants will benefit from receiving comprehensive advice to ensure they understand the obligations concerning their investment, and avoid creating a deportation liability.
The comprehensive legal services provided by Turner Hopkins will ensure that Entrepreneur Category migrants receive the highest standard of legal advice concerning asset protection, trusts, taxation (including New Zealand and cross border taxation issues) corporate governance, compliance, employment and other services necessary to successfully navigate the Business Category procedure.
Family Category Applications
We take particular pleasure in assisting migrants seeking re-unification with family members (including partners and children) already in New Zealand. The strict requirements and definitions under the Immigration Act often result in these applications being time consuming and frustrating. Our skill and experience in this area can significantly reduce the worry that comes with the danger of getting it wrong, and more importantly confirm if family members are eligible for the visa they seek well in advance of making an application.
Migrants with recognised qualification and skills may be invited to apply for residence by Immigration New Zealand. This process is competitive and complex. The process (also known as “the points system”) starts with an “expression of interest” lodged by the visa applicant or his or her lawyer. This procedure needs to be handled with real care and expertise. A decision by Immigration New Zealand not to invite a person to apply for residence is not easily challenged. A significant number of migrants over assess their points resulting in Immigration New Zealand issuing an Invitation to Apply for Residence only later to issue a decline decision.
We have particular and significant experience in assessing the prospects of succeeding in this category and representing skilled migrants throughout this complex process.
Residence From Work
This is a special category allowing a person to literally work their way towards residence or PR. By obtaining a special type of work visa and being employed in New Zealand for a specific period of time, the applicant can then qualify for PR based on that past employment. This category is limited to those with highly sought after skills or qualifications; or job offers carrying a set level of salary and with employers who have gained a special status under the Immigration Act. To establish if this is a viable avenue for you to obtain work visas and residence, contact us.
Temporary Entry Visas
Temporary visas include work visas, student visas and visitor visas.
New Zealand has an extensive set of work visas for those who wish to work in New Zealand. Employers seeking to recruit offshore or hire overseas nationals need to be familiar with the labour market testing requirements that attach to some types of work visa applications.
Working holiday schemes permit young nationals from a select group of countries to work for any employer while they holiday here.
Corporates seeking to transfer staff from offshore divisions or bring in specialist expertise for short term assignments can use special policies to ensure work visas are issued to their employees promptly.
Special policies exist for partners of New Zealanders and existing work permit holders to gain an authority to work for any employer.
Visas are available for those seeking to study in New Zealand. The visas are not just restricted to those seeking to attend University. School age children can also obtain student visas. Guardians accompanying school age students are also eligible for a temporary entry visa, and can gain a limited work right
Visitor Visas/Limited Purpose Visas
These visas are appropriate for those seeking to enter for social or family visits or even special events. Long term visas are available for Parents and Grandparents or Retirees who want to say for periods beyond the usual 90 days or 6 months.
If you want to visit to decide whether New Zealand is the ideal destination for you in the future this would be the best avenue by which to enter New Zealand. However care needs to be taken. Visitor visa applicants must prove to the New Zealand Government that they have a strong incentive to return to their home country; sufficient funds to stay; and that their intention is to just visit. A monetary bond may be required by the New Zealand Government.
Frequently Asked Questions
The criteria are set by the New Zealand Government. The Immigration Policy (known as "instructions") is laid out in a very comprehensive Operational Manual.
There are many categories of residence instructions. Those most often used are:
These are available to those seeking to establish and operate a business, or invest capital in New Zealand. There are sub categories, these are:
Investor 1 and 2
Entrepreneur Work and Residence Visa
Available to those seeking re-unification with family members (including children and partners) already in New Zealand or who are citizens or residence visa holders. These cases are often considered the easy ones. But they are often the cases that encounter problems.
New Zealand citizens or residents who have obtained residence as the partner of the principle applicant or under partnership instruction can face restrictions on their ability to bring a new partner or spouse to New Zealand.
Recent changes to acceptance criteria have restricted the ability of parents to join resident children. The use of the Expression of Interest process for parents can cause long delays. Errors in the Expression of Interest can often result in the residence visa application being declined and rights of appeal being lost.
This is available to those with recognised qualifications and skills. The process is on a 'points' system, which is complex. The system is geared towards those who have jobs that are considered skilled.
Many people miscalculate their points using self-assessment tools. Mistakes made in the Expression of Interest can often cause the permanent residence application to be declined.
Residence from work
This is a special category allowing a person to work their way to gaining residence. This is limited to those with highly sought skills and qualifications or job offers carrying a set level salary from employers who have gained a special status with Immigration New Zealand.
Some of the reasons immigration applications have problems include medical conditions, criminal convictions or visa officers misapplying the instructions. If these are handled quickly, it can often save an application from being declined.
These are available in order to facilitate the access of NZ employers and New Zealand industry to global skills and knowledge.
There are also policies relating to partners of New Zealanders and partners of work visa holders.
These are available to those (school age and older) wanting to study in New Zealand. Guardians accompanying school age children are also eligible for a temporary visa.
Visitor visas / Limited purpose visas
These are available to those coming to New Zealand for holidays, family or special events. Visitor visa applicants must prove they are only here for a short time and have funds to cover their stay (a monetary bond may be required).
Companies don't usually need to "sponsor" a worker. Most of the time all that is needed is a formal job offer and (for a work visa) evidence they cannot find a local candidate to do the job. Sponsorship is usually only requested if there are perceived "risks" with the application.
The starting point - you need a job offer. Under New Zealand law this must be in writing usually known as an Individual Employment Agreement ("IEA") or Collective Agreement.
We can assist employers with clauses suited to Immigration processes. We can also review IEA's for migrants unfamiliar with New Zealand labour laws to ensure they receive all their entitlements.
Penalties for employers breaching the Immigration Act 2009 are significant with heavy fines and the possibility of imprisonment for offences relating to exploitation of workers.
Immigration New Zealand actively examines employer records to monitor compliance with labour laws. They have significant power to enter a work place and force records to be handed over for inspection.
A failure to check an employee's immigration status has severe consequences. There is no acceptable excuse given the facilities made available by Immigration New Zealand to allow such checks to be made.
Employers need to have sound processes to ensure work visas are checked and expiry dates monitored.
Poor record keeping especially regarding time and wages can often cause significant problems. Failure to observe labour and immigration laws can cause work and residence visas to be declined. Precautions can also occur.
Our experienced employment law and immigration teams can provide assistance in these areas.
“We had a sensitive immigration visa issue for our adopted son, thankfully we found Turner Hopkins and the service provided by Tim McSweeney and Mahafrin Variava was nothing short of first class. I went from sleepless nights to a sense of calm when the Turner Hopkins team swung into gear and brought a speedy resolution to a complex range of issues, we are extremely grateful for their professionalism but also the friendly nature in which they handled our situation. I really did feel an ease in my worry and anxiety from the very first contact on the phone.”
“Tim McSweeny and Mahafrin Variava have been superb. It was a long journey for my wife and I to get her and our children's residency in NZ but it has been all worth it. When we went to pieces, Tim and Mahafrin kept it together. When we doubted, they reassured. We cannot thank them enough and wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone battling INZ. ”
“We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Mahafrin and Tim in particular, and the Turner Hopkins team for their professionalism and expertise in handling our Immigration matter. With young children and an ill family member overseas, it was critical that we received accurate professional advice and a prompt resolution. Mahafrin and Tim delivered way beyond our expectations with empathy and understanding. Thank you so much, and we will always be so very grateful for your help.”
“Tim and Mahafrin helped us through a rather long and arduous process and were always available to get back to us and update us in good time. They were always professional and to the point, and diligent in pressing INZ about our case. A very good team.”