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Frequently Asked Questions related to immigration to New Zealand

Who can be included in an Application for Permanent Residence?

As well as the main applicant, the applicant's spouse/partner and dependent children can be included in a Permanent Resident visa application. "Partner" includes wife or a de facto partner who has lived with the applicant in a genuine and stable relationship for 12 months or longer prior to the visa application.

Dependent children include unmarried children who may be considered dependent if they are totally or substantially reliant on their parents for support, and have no children of their own.

For same sex couples, the same rules apply as for married/de facto hetero couples.

Parents and siblings cannot be included in an application, and must make a separate application in their own right.

What is a principal applicant?.

The principal applicant is the main applicant for residence, rather than the spouse or children, if any. That person must meet the requirements of policy, and is the person who completes an application form as the applicant. The applicant may be either person in a relationship, providing that person meets the INZ policy.

How are points for work experience calculated?

Points for work experience are calculated as follows:

2 years=10 points; 4 years=15 points; 6 years=20 points; 8 years=25 points; 10 years or more=30 points.

Note that the work experience as required by INZ must be skilled employment in an acceptable trade, gained in a country that is considered to be a comparable labour market.

Work experience must be full-time which, for immigration purposes, is considered to be 30 hours or more per week. Work experience at less than 30 hours per week can be accumulated to the point that it equates to a full-time equivalent. Extra work experience bonus points can be claimed for work experience in New Zealand or in an area of absolute skills shortage.

What requirements must be met to claim points for a job offer?

To receive the full points for a job offer, the offer of employment must be for full-time and ongoing employment and made by a New Zealand employer. It must be current at the time of your application, and often will need to be reconfirmed at the time the processing is completed. Always check the INZ website, http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant, for up to date information regarding job offer requirements.

What is the minimum wage in New Zealand?

The minimum adult wage, which applies to people over 18 years, will increase from $9.50 to $10.25 an hour from 27 March 2006.

The minimum youth wage - for workers aged 16 and 17 years - will also increase by nearly eight per cent, from $7.60 to $8.20 per hour, to stay at 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage. The minimum training wage will increase to the same rate.

Is there a policy that allows an applicant to "retire" in New Zealand?

The NZ Immigration Service does not offer a special scheme for the retired, you would have to be eligible to apply for Permanent Residence in any one of the migration categories available. At best, he or she could come to New Zealand as a visitor, and spend 6 months out of a 12 months period in New Zealand, or a maximum of 9 months out of a 18 months period.

Returning Resident's Visas:

Your first Returning Resident's Visa is issued to you at the time you are issued your residence visa or permit. It is valid for two years from the date the first residence permit is granted and is a multiple entry visa.

After your first Returning Resident's Visa expires you must apply for a second Returning Resident's Visa. Your second or subsequent visa may be valid indefinitely (enabling multiple trips in and out of New Zealand indefinitely) or may be valid for 12 months or 14 days. An indefinite visa is granted provided you are able meet the requirements that show commitment to New Zealand, e.g. spent most of your time in New Zealand. If you are unable to meet those requirements you may be eligible for a 12 month or 14 day Returning Resident's Visa.

For all passport renewals or applications for RRV's, contact the Immigration New Zealand office nearest to you.

More detailed information about passport renewals and RRV's plus contact addresses can be found at the website of INZ:

What happens if my RRV expires when I am out of the country?

You may not be able to return to New Zealand if your RRV expires when you are out of the country. If you do not hold an indefinite RRV, you must make sure that your current RRV is valid before you leave New Zealand. Contact the nearest INZ office for timely renewal of your RRV.

What is IELTS?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System, and this is the standard that INZ have decided will act as definitive proof to them of the English language ability of applicants for residence under Skilled Migrant and Business visa categories.

Which IELTS examination do I need to sit?

There are two tests modules within the IELTS system: academic and general. INZ will accept either test result. For INZ purposes, the general test is acceptable, but the academic will also be accepted. Applicants who need occupational registration, may be required to sit the academic test, and should check this out in advance, with the appropriate registration body.

Where would I sit an IELTS test?

IELTS test centres are available in most countries of the world; the only major exception being the U.S.A. You can locate your nearest centre via www.ielts.org.

What is a Base Qualification?

In terms of immigration policy, a base qualification is considered to be an overseas qualification that has an equivalent in New Zealand that would take at least 2 but in most cases 3 years to complete. Whether that qualification took considerably more to complete offshore, is not relevant.

The qualification could be from a technical institute, university, or other government recognized diploma providing institution or training establishment.

Immigration New Zealand have their own manuals for deciding the comparability of qualifications with New Zealand equivalents, and in the event that they are unsure, you will always be referred to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority for an independent assessment, which INZ will accept.

What is the New Zealand Qualifications Authority?

The NZQA is an independent Government body, not associated with INZ. One of its roles is to conduct independent evaluations of overseas qualifications.

How long does an NZQA qualifications assessment take?

A qualifications assessment will generally take between 8 to 12 weeks, depending on the quality of the documentation presented. The NZQA verifies the overseas qualification with the school or issuing body, which may delay matters.

Which documents are required for an NZQA diploma/qualifications assessment?

The NZ Qualifications Authority, NZQA, assesses overseas diploma's and compares a diploma with a qualification for the same profession in New Zealand. Any qualification will be awarded a certain level and the NZ Immigration Service accepts the result of an NZQA diploma assessment.

The NZQA then verify your qualifications with the school or the issuing authority of your qualification. If the NZQA cannot verify your qualification then the NZQA cannot issue you with an assessment report and therefore you may not be able to claim points for your qualification. .

For a Diploma Assessment, the NZQA requires the following original documents plus certified translations if not in English plus a set of certified copies of all documents:

* certificate of completion of final year at a general or junior secondary school.
* degrees and diplomas, or other award certificates from tertiary institutions, trade schools, technical colleges or specialised senior secondary schools.
* transcripts, mark sheets or academic records which list the subjects studied for each year and the grades achieved for each subject.
* evidence of vocational or trades training (contracts with your training employer, completion certificates and trade tests, if applicable) .
* employment records or employer references describing your work experience.
* current practising certificate, registration or licence as appropriate.

Because an applicant of a NZQA diploma assessment may not interfere with the verification process (as some countries have strict privacy laws, no information can be provided to third parties sometimes), it may be a good idea to contact the school or the authority that issued your diploma in your country before you apply for an NZQA assessment and announce the verification request and ask them to reply to the NZQA asap. There are 3 options for a NZQA assessment:
1: pre-assessment (NZ$75), the minimum required if you wish to submit and EOI for the Skilled Migrant visa category;
2: full assessment (NZ$450), required when you lodge your Skilled Migrant visa application;
3: fast track (NZ$600). This is not a realistic option since the NZQA cannot guarantee that the school or diploma issuing body will answer to the verification request within 2 weeks.

Can I claim points for partially completed qualifications?

No, only fully completed qualifications, with appropriate evidence of diplomas and transcripts can be used to claim points for INZ purposes. The NZQA may take into account other qualifications or work experience in their assessment, but ultimately you must have fully completed at least one qualification to apply.

If I obtain a job, will this entitle me to residence after a period of time?

Holding a Work Permit and working in New Zealand for a period of time, has no effect on your entitlement to residence of New Zealand.
Applicants must still meet residence policy on the day their application is lodged. Under Skilled Migrant policy, additional bonus points for New Zealand work experience may be claimed.

Is there a minimum amount of money I must transfer to New Zealand?

If you apply as a Skilled Migrant there is no minimum amount of money required when you hold an offer of employment that is paid by salary or wages and sufficient to maintain yourself and your family. If you do not hold an offer of employment, you will need to provide evidence of sufficient funds to maintain yourself and your family for the first 24 months of your residence. This amount varies and depends on the number of people in your family.
For Business Investor and Long Term Business Visa applicants, different criteria apply.

How long is it before I have to move to New Zealand after I have been approved for permanent residence?

There will be a point in time at which you will have been "approved in principle". From that day, you will have 12 months from that original date for everyone included in the application to have arrived in New Zealand. Your arrival initiates a Returning Resident's Visa (RRV), which is valid for 2 years.

What happens if I cannot arrive in New Zealand within the correct timeframe?

Any family members in the application, who do not meet the requirement to arrive in New Zealand within 12 months of the approval in principle date, will have their Residence Visa lapsed, and thereby be unable to take up permanent residence. A new application would need to be lodged for that person, and they would need to meet policy as it stood on the date they applied. It is important to note that each person's requirement is only to enter for a short time, and they can leave once they have completed their RRV immigration formalities, if need be.

What is a Residence Permit?

Every time a person with a valid Residence Visa or RRV enters New Zealand, they are given a Residence Permit. That permit entitles the holder to remain in New Zealand, indefinitely. That person will always be in New Zealand legally, whether their RRV is valid or not, and whether they are the holder of a valid passport or not. The Residence Permit expires when the person leaves New Zealand. That person will only be able to re-enter New Zealand if they hold a valid RRV.

As an Australian citizen or resident, can I come to New Zealand?

Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents may enter New Zealand at any time, and remain for as long as they wish. Persons with a valid Australian Resident's Return Visa may enter New Zealand, and will be given an equivalent Returning Resident's Visa from New Zealand. Australian citizens and residents will be treated as New Zealand residents in terms of their ability to sponsor relatives from overseas.

My existing medical condition is covered by medical insurance overseas. Can I use this to help me gain residence?

In terms of immigration policy, an existing medical condition is considered in terms of the condition, not in terms of whether you have made a decision you would return to your home country for treatment. Because New Zealand has a free medical service, applicants are not able to opt or contract out of the medical system. For example, it will be difficult to refuse to be taken to hospital after you had been hit by a bus, simply because you had contracted not to use the medical services in New Zealand.

If I have an accident or require an emergency operation, what costs will I have to pay?.

If you have permanent residence, and are admitted to a hospital for treatment, you will not need to pay for treatment.

All New Zealand residents are eligible for "Accident Compensation". The monetary benefits of the compensation varies depending on the treatment provider and the nature of the treatment required.

How long will my visa application take to be processed?

Processing times vary widely, depending on the INZ office that processes your visa application. A realistic estimate for Skilled Migrant and Family Category visa applications is 6-12 months and for LTBV applications, 12-24 months. Longer or shorter processing times are possible.

Can I hold other citizenship(s) when I obtain my New Zealand citizenship?

Yes, the New Zealand Government allows New Zealand passport holders to hold other passports. (Note: Some other countries do not allow this, and obtaining New Zealand citizenship may require you to forfeit your native country citizenship).

What is the difference between permanent residence and citizenship?

Permanent residence is the right to reside in New Zealand permanently, while that person has in the passport of their home country, a valid Residence Permit, or if out of New Zealand, a valid Returning Resident's Visa. The right to residence may therefore lapse if that person does not have at least one of those visas/permits.

Citizenship, on the other hand, gives the person the right to a New Zealand passport.

Citizenship applications are not processed by the Immigration Department, but by the Department of Internal Affairs. Applicants must have lived in New Zealand for at least 5 years before they can apply. Citizenship does not lapse if one is out of the country for any period of time.

How long am I bound to a New Zealand employer, if I have used a job offer in my Application for Residence?

The relevant Act in relation to employment in New Zealand is the Employment Contracts Act 1991, which governs employment contracts between individuals and their employer. An employee is entitled to give notice and resign at any time; the length of notice will have been specified in the contract; or if not, is usually the length of time between pay periods.

Is it essential to travel to New Zealand to get a job?

Like most employers, New Zealanders prefer to meet prospective employees, face to face, before making a job offer. There are only a very few exceptions to this, and it would usually be where an applicant has such fantastic skills in a very narrow field, that there are only a few experts in the world.

What is New Zealand's climate?

Generally, the North Island of New Zealand has a temperate climate, with the South Island's being cooler.

What benefits will I enjoy as a permanent resident?

As a permanent resident of New Zealand you are entitled to all that New Zealand residents and citizens are entitled to, with the exception of:

1. Unemployment, welfare and student benefits for the first 24 months from their arrival date.
2. Travel on a New Zealand passport, until they have met the requirements of the Citizenship Act.
3. Some government agencies require all staff to be citizens of New Zealand.

Other than the above, as a resident you will enjoy all other benefits and privileges that New Zealanders do. In particular, as a resident, education costs are as for New Zealand residents, rather than overseas students.

Can I buy a property in New Zealand, and if I do, will it entitle me to New Zealand residence?

As a non-resident, you can buy real estate in New Zealand but there are some restrictions as to size, value and location of the property. As a New Zealand resident, there are no restrictions on property purchases. Please note that the owning of property by an overseas citizen, does not entitle the owner to any exemptions for meeting residence policy. On its own, ownership of land in New Zealand does not qualify a person for residence.

Does the 'land of the long white cloud' mean that New Zealand is always covered in cloud?

Aotearoa (land of the long white cloud) was the name that the original Maori migrants gave to New Zealand, as it was the first indication they had from their canoes that there was land ahead. As a country surrounded by water, New Zealand would have more cloud cover than the interior of large landmasses.

Is there any legal requirement to register with any authority in New Zealand?

No. You do not need to advise a local authority where you are living.

MOTOR VEHICLES

A wide range of motor vehicles are available and prices vary depending on the make, year and mileage.
Vehicles can be purchased from Motor Vehicle Dealers, Auctions or privately.
Japanese Imports are popular and affordable. A reliable family car can be purchased for as little as NZ$7,000.
New cars range from $17,000 upwards depending on the make.
Late model and second hand European cars such as Peugeot, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Jaguar, BMW, Alfa Romeo, etc range from $25,000 depending on the make and year.

HOUSING

If you plan to build or buy a home in NZ, http://www.newzealand-infocenter.com/realty.htm offers information and links to all real estate related websites in New Zealand.

If you wish to rent a home, www.ljhooker.co.nz offers a special section for rentals available in all regions of NZ.

Please visit the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand web site for the latest housing statistics. REINZ

What are the tax rates in New Zealand?

At IRD you can find all information about NZ tax rates.

How to apply for an IRD (tax) number?

At This Page you can find an IRD number Application Form to download.

The New Zealand International Tax Regime and Becoming a Tax Payer

An IRD number is required which is obtained on application from the IRD and thereafter reporting is either as a resident or a non-resident. Non-residents are only taxed on New Zealand sourced income whereas residents (which the RRV Policy requires an applicant to be) is taxed on worldwide income.

New Zealand has an international tax regime which briefly means that a New Zealand tax resident is obligated to declare their worldwide income and to pay tax in New Zealand at New Zealand tax rates on that worldwide income.

Generally while tax at New Zealand rates will be assessed in New Zealand a credit is given for any tax paid overseas either in terms of a double tax agreement if it exists or under New Zealand's foreign tax credit regime.

Income under New Zealand law has a wide definition and it includes not only income received from employment such as salaries or wages, but it would also include (and this is not definitive):

Allowances additional to salaries or wages; wherever earned;
Interest on bank deposits or monies similarly invested or lent; wherever received;
Rent from properties; wherever located;
Profits accruing on investment funds may be included under a regime called The Foreign Investment Fund Regime;
Company income (whether distributed or not) must be included if the taxpayer holds more than 40% of the shares in the company under a regime called The Controlled Foreign Companies Regime.
A New Zealand tax resident is required to assess what tax he will have to pay within a tax year and he must pay this as to one third on 7 July, one third on 7 November and one third on 7 March. The tax year is 1 April to 31 March and tax returns must be filed by 7 July for the preceding tax year.

The New Zealand tax system is reporter based, ie: the IRD receives a tax return and in reliance on the correctness of the returns, it will issue an assessment. However, it undertakes spot audits and one should assume that immigrants are likely to be a particular target. If as a result of such audit, it is found that income has been understated substantial penalties can be imposed - penalties can be fines and in some instances, jail. The IRD could check the public record in any country to establish ownership of properties, company's businesses etc.

What video system does New Zealand use?

VHS/PAL, not NTSC.

CUSTOMS

What you can bring with you:

If you are coming to New Zealand to take up permanent residence, and have the legal authority to do so from the New Zealand Immigration Service, you do not need to pay tax or any duty on your belongings so long as they are for your personal use.

* Clothing and other personal items (such as jewelry) do not have to have been worn or used but they must be for your personal use. Other household goods, such as furniture, stereos and houseware must have been owned and used by you before you come to New Zealand.
* You can import a motor vehicle (car, motorcycle or motor scooter) or boat duty free, as long as it has been personally owned and used by you for at least one year before the date when it was surrendered for shipping to New Zealand, or the date when you leave for New Zealand, whichever is the earlier.

When your vehicle arrives in New Zealand it will be inspected. If it is found to be contaminated, it will be cleaned before being released to you. You will need to pay for the cleaning.

You will need to keep any motor vehicles or boats for two years after the date of importation - otherwise you will have to pay for customs charges.

* If you wish to bring any guns into New Zealand you will need a special permit to import them. Contact the New Zealand Police about the permit.
* Do not bring in weapons such as flick knives, swordsticks and knuckle-dusters.
* Do not bring any organic material, animals, parts of animals, plants, parts of plants, or food made of animals or plants without contacting NZ Customs first.
* New Zealand does censor videotapes, magazines, books, CD-Roms etc for sexual material and violence. It is strongly recommended not to bring in material that would contravene the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.

Can I bring my pets to New Zealand?

Cats and dogs can be brought, subject to meeting the quarantine requirements, which will vary, depending on the country of origin. Other normal family pets will be covered under specific regulations, and will be significantly more difficult to bring. Horses are covered separately.

Animals (pets)

The New Zealand economy is historically based on agriculture. Less than five percent of the population is human, the rest are animals. The New Zealand government is extremely careful about the importation of livestock into the country. The regulatory body governing the importation of animals is the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF)

Cats and dogs from many countries of the world can come to New Zealand. They are likely to need to be put into quarantine once they arrive. How long depends on what country you come from, and what steps you have taken to meet MAF testing requirements before arrival. Nearly all other animals including birds, turtles and monkeys are prohibited from coming to New Zealand.

Cats and dogs must be identified with a microchip or permanent tattoo and the identification details must be shown on the accompanying certification when they are imported to New Zealand.

The importation of animals into New Zealand requires the issue of an Import Permit. A copy of an Import Permit can be obtained from MAF after booking of the quarantine facility has been made and confirmed.

Quarantine facilities:

You can find all New Zealand quarantine facilities at THIS PAGE

Dogs are the only pets that you are required to register at your local Council.

How do I open a bank account in New Zealand?

You can, as a foreign national, open a bank account in New Zealand, and transfer funds in and out of the country, unimpeded by Government authorities. You will need to provide your passport, in order to open the account.

Can I transfer my pension?

Whether or not a person can transfer their pension to New Zealand, will depend on the country where the pension entitlement comes from. This is only available from limited countries, and includes the United Kingdom and Australia.

Note: this situation is not reciprocated in Australia.

What electrical goods can I safely bring to New Zealand?

New Zealand uses 220/240v 50 cycles as the standard electrical power. This unit may effect items such as computers. Care should be taken that items being brought will comply with this voltage and cycle.

What can I bring with me when I migrate?

When you come to New Zealand, you are entitled to bring your personal effects, household goods, vehicles and boats. Personal effects and household goods may be brought, tax and duty free into the country, up to 4 years from the date of your residence approval.
Vehicles must be right-hand drive, and have been owned and used for at least 12 months prior to shipment by the importer. Left-hand drive vehicles can only be imported with the proper approval.

Do I need to be interviewed by INZ?

Under current policies, applicants are likely to be required to attend an interview with an immigration officer.

Who can sponsor me into New Zealand?

Under Family and Family Quota Policy, a NZ citizen or permanent resident of at least 3 years may sponsor a close family member or spouse/partner if all conditions are met.

What is the difference between a visa and a permit?

A visa is issued outside New Zealand, and gives the holder a right to enter New Zealand and be issued with a permit to remain. A permit is only issued to people in New Zealand, and allows them to remain within the terms of that permit. For example, someone entering New Zealand with a valid Visitor's Visa will usually be issued, at the airport, with a 3-month Visitor's Permit. A person entering New Zealand with a valid Residence Visa will be issued with a Residence Permit, allowing them to remain indefinitely.

Will an existing medical condition affect my Application for Residence?

You will be required to undertake a medical examination, and medical conditions may be referred on to the INZ Medical Referee. You should disclose all medical issues to your consultant, who will advise you as to their potential impact.

New Zealand Citizenship

To become a citizen of New Zealand you must have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years, intend to continue living in New Zealand, be able to understand and speak English and be of good character. Citizenship entitles you to (over and above of being a permanent resident):

* foreign travel and the freedom to return on a New Zealand passport;
* access to positions in Army, Navy, Airforce, Police Force and Parliament;
* access to international sport (representing New Zealand);

Information about NZ citizenship is available from the NZ Department of Internal Affairs: NZ Department of Internal Affairs

Births, deaths and marriages:

Births - All births must be registered in New Zealand.

Death - Deaths must be registered within 3 working days after burial or cremation. A doctor is normally required to provide a certificate of death, unless the coroner is investigating the cause. There is no fee for registering a death.

Marriage - To marry, you and your partner must be over 16 years old, not closely related by blood or marriage and be legally free to marry.
Under 20's must have the consent of parents or caregiver. A licence must be obtained from the local Births, Deaths & Marriage Office, which is valid for 3 months.
Marriages can be conducted by the Registrar or by an authorised marriage celebrant, which will include ministers of various religions.

Divorce - The one reason for divorce in New Zealand is that the marriage has broken down and the partners have lived apart for 2 years or more. Applications are lodged through the family court.

Changing your name - You may register a change in name with the Births, Deaths & Marriages Registrar. Parents can change the name of their child up until they are 18, but once they are 16 they must have the child's permission.

DRIVING IN NEW ZEALAND

In New Zealand we drive on the left side of the road. The current minimum driving age is 15. In the early period of your driving there are restrictions against driving late at night and who may be in the car.

One rule we have that tends to differ from other countries is that if you are in a vehicle on a main road wishing to turn left you must give way to cars coming towards you wishing to turn right into that same side street.

When approaching a pedestrian crossing, if the pedestrian steps onto the crossing then you are required to stop for them.

Car insurance is not compulsory, but certainly recommended.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

The following are public holidays in New Zealand:

Christmas Day-25 December
Boxing Day-26 December
New Years Day-1 January, or 2 January (or the following Monday if New year's Day falls on the weekend)
Waitangi Day-6 February
Easter Friday-During April
Easter Monday-During April
Anzac Day-25 April
Queens Birthday-Monday after the first weekend in June
Labour Day-Last Monday in October
Anniversary Day-Each province has its own anniversary day holiday

For questions about immigration to New Zealand, please feel free to contact us by Email

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