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How to immigrate to New Zealand: Which visa is right for you?

New Zealand


Beautiful landscapes, rugged coastlines and mountains, a land seeped in culture and history, friendly people and a multi ethnic population.

This is what New Zealand offers, making it onto lists of best places to immigrate to among developed, English speaking nations.

Quality of life, cost of living, work-life balance, modern city life or a more rural small town existence, an abundance of fresh produce, a bustling food and beverage scene, and people friendly policies all make NZ appealing.

How do I begin the process of immigrating to New Zealand?

As with any other country, there are laws governing immigration to New Zealand, and different stages to the process. To immigrate to New Zealand, a point based system applies.

You can apply as a student, worker, or to join family. Whether you are already in the country or applying from outside, the country whose passport you currently hold, whether you have a job offer in hand in NZ, whether you are joining a family member or partner in NZ, your proficiency with the English language (are you a native speaker, is English a second language for you) – all these factors will affect your application.

For those who apply under the skilled migrant quota, it awards points based on factors such as your age, work experience and skills, educational qualifications.

How do I know which visa category I should apply under?

Once you have decided that New Zealand is where you want to settle and immigrate to, you need to understand which category applies or suits your personal situation best.

NZ study visa

You can apply to study at a local university and then use the post study work visa option if applicable. Studying is definitely a popular route to potential immigration into New Zealand. Remember that going to a reputed university and choosing a field of study that makes you an attractive candidate to authorities (check out the skills shortage list for identified areas of future growth) will help your plans for immigrating to NZ. Also, you can apply for an advanced degree or training in your field of study if you already have completed your higher education.

NZ skilled migrant visa

If you can apply under the skilled migrant category visa, then you require a minimum score of 160 points in order to join the pool. This score is calculated from a range of factors.

  • You have passed the IELTS or an equivalent exam with at least a 6.5 score
  • The basis of your current job or the offer of employment you have in NZ
  • Your number of years of relevant work experience
  • Your age (you get 30 points for being aged 20-39, 20 points if between 40-44, 10 for those 45-49, and 5 if between 50-55 years)
  • Your spouse’s work experience and English proficiency

In addition to this, you can score extra points for any work experience in:

  • New Zealand or
  • A listed employment sector or
  • Fields identified as future growth areas by the government.

If you are in a field or have skills that are in demand, you could get into the country without having English proficiency that translates to a score of 6.5 on the IELTS. If this is the case, you will be asked to attend English courses once you are in NZ.

Your educational background can help you get additional points too. This includes having studied in NZ, studying subjects where there are currently shortages in qualified personnel, and studying in future growth areas as identified by the government.

If you want to use your skills and qualifications to your advantage, check whether you have enough points to apply from outside New Zealand, using the official NZ immigration points calculation system.

This entire application process will take between 6 months to 1 year, but can be done without being in the country, and requires minimal financial expenditure.

NZ business visa

There are also business people who might want to invest and immigrate to New Zealand, and can apply for a business visa, which also follows a points system to ascertain eligibility. The IELTS requirement for this category is a score of 4.0. You also need to have the skills to analyse business and investment opportunities. You should be willing and able to invest at least $100,000 NZ as capital (not including working capital to run your business).

As we mentioned above, there are various categories under which you can be considered as a potential immigrant to New Zealand. While there are a broad set of considerations, your individual record and situation will be a factor. The official NZ government immigration site has all the details and you should familiarize yourself with.

Contact Malcolm Pacific for specialised advice

If you are still unsure of the visa process, the types of visa, or the process to apply, contact us at Malcolm Pacific Immigration. We’ve helped thousands of people move to NZ and start their lives here, and we’d love to help you too.



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