New Zealand: Applying for visas or citizenship
From a working holiday to permanent residency, our guide will help you to find the right visa for your circumstances
If you are already an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you don’t need a visa to work in New Zealand.
Irish citizens who intend to work, study or set up a business in New Zealand need to have the right visa to suit their circumstances.
The New Zealand Department of Immigration website has a VisaOptions tool to help applicants find the right visa for them.
The majority of workers move to New Zealand through the Work to Residence or Skilled Migrant programmes. The list below summarises the most common visa types for Irish workers.
Costs: Application costs range from NZ$208 (€136) for a working holiday visa to NZ$1,697 (€1,100) for a skilled migrant resident visa. Visas for entrepreneurs, investors or retirees can cost up to NZ$4,745 for Investor type 2. See immigration.govt.nz for the full list.
Migration agents can assist with the application process for an additional fee, but are not essential. Do make sure they are registered with the New Zealand government.
You don’t need a visa to work in New Zealand if you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
(Note: the information in this guide, which is intended as an overview, was correct at date of publication. Visa regulations change on a regular basis, so candidates should check the New Zealand Department of Immigration website for the most up-to-date information).
Working holiday visa: Allows people aged 18-30 to work and travel for up to 12 months. You cannot bring children with you on this visa. You must have a return ticket or sufficient funds to buy one when entering the country, and a minimum of NZ$4,200 in your bank account.
Essential Skills category: For workers with a job offer with the training or experience needed by an employer who has proven they can’t find a similarly qualified candidate in New Zealand to fill the position. Dependent children can’t be brought with you on this visa, and you will have to be earning at least NZ$36,850.44 for them to be eligible for one. The visa will be issued for a one, three or five years.
Silver Fern category: A nine-month visa (which can be extended to two years) for highly skilled 20- to 35-year-olds searching for employment in New Zealand. It is limited to 300 places per year. Applications will open from November 3rd, 2016.
For more temporary visas, including family stream visas and study visas, see New Zealand Immigration.
There are two routes to permanent residency in New Zealand: Work to Residence visas and Skilled Migrant visas.
Work to Residence
Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Category: If your skills are on the long-term shortage list, this visa allows you to work for 30 months in the country. After two years you can apply for permanent residency. To qualify, you must be under 53 years of age, be healthy, of good character, have an offer of employment, be qualified through training or experience for the job, and have full or provisional registration if your occupation requires it in New Zealand.
Talent (Accredited Employers) Work Category: For workers whose occupation is not on the skills shortage list but who have a job offer from a New Zealand employer accredited to recruit staff from overseas.
Talent (Arts, Culture and Sports) Work Category: For people with recognised talents and abilities in the arts, culture or sports fields. You must have the support of “a New Zealand organisation of national repute in your field of talent” and a sponsor.
Entrepreneur Work Visa Category: For people who want to establish a business in New Zealand as a step to gaining residence.
This skilled migrant visa offers permanent residency to workers whose skills are in demand (on any of the shortage lists) but don’t have a job offer before arrival. You must be under 55, healthy, of good character and speak English. You must submit an expression of interest, and if you claim enough points for age, experience, employability and qualifications, you will be invited to apply. Some workers will be given a job search visa which can be used for up to nine months while looking for skilled employment.
For all other visa types, see immigration.govt.nz.
If you have permanent residence and are considered “of good character” with no convictions or fines, you are entitled to apply for citizenship in New Zealand. This will give you the right to vote, live in New Zealand indefinitely, travel on a New Zealand passport, and stand for parliament. See www.dia.govt.nz.
Additional reporting by Gráinne Loughran