Requirements to become a resident


Applying for residence means seeking the right to live and work in New Zealand permanently.

Under the Immigration Act 1987, anybody who wishes to immigrate to New Zealand must apply for residence, which entitles you to live, study, vote or work indefinitely in New Zealand. The only foreigners this doesn’t apply to are Australian citizens, who need only produce their passports when entering New Zealand, although they’re subject to the same good character requirements as other visitors.

Applications for residence are assessed by the NZIS, which must adhere to the government’s immigration policy and isn’t allowed to ‘bend’ the rules or make exceptions. If your application is refused, you can appeal to the Independent Residence Appeal Authority. All applicants for residence must provide the information and documentation necessary to meet the current regulations. Most people apply for residence from outside New Zealand, although it’s sometimes possible to apply for residence from within the country, provided you’re there legally.

Health Requirements

In order to secure residence you must demonstrate that you and any family members coming with you are healthy. This is to safeguard the health of New Zealanders and to avoid placing a burden on the country’s health and social services.

If you’re invited to apply for residence, you must have a medical assessment by a doctor and fill in medical and chest x-ray certificates (NZIS 1007) for each member of your family coming to New Zealand. All certificates must be less than three months old when you lodge your application. Pregnant women and children under 11 aren’t required to submit x-ray certificates unless a special report is required.

In some countries the NZIS has a selected panel of doctors and medical institutions which you must use for the medical examinations (there’s a full list on their website – ). You must meet the costs of any examinations and tests and if you’re in New Zealand the costs aren’t covered by the New Zealand health service.

Full details of health requirements are provided in a leaflet Health Requirements (NZIS 1121).

Character Requirements

You and any family members included in your application must be of good character.

If you’re invited to apply for residence, you must provide police certificates as evidence of your good character. Certificates are required for everybody aged 17 and over included in the application.

English Language Requirements

New Zealand’s two official languages are English and Maori ( Te Reo Maori). English is the more common language, and all prospective residents must have a good level of English before applying or state that they intend to pre-purchase English language training. This requirement isn’t just to allow you to find and perform work, but so that you can integrate into society. You’re exempt if you’ve been working lawfully in New Zealand for a minimum of 12 months and have used English in your job before lodging a residence application.

A full list of acceptable evidence is included in the Guide to Applying for Residence in New Zealand (NZIS).

Income Requirements

If you include dependent children in your application, you will be required to show that you can meet a minimum income requirement so that you can support yourself and your dependants for at least your first four years in New Zealand. During this period, income support (New Zealand social security payments) will be granted only in exceptional circumstances. If your spouse/partner included in your application has an offer of employment in New Zealand, his salary may be included in the assessment of minimum income. In 2005, minimum income (i.e. total family annual income) ranged from $30,946 for one dependent child to $47,586 for four or more dependent children.

Further reading

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