Character requirements to move to New Zealand

Do you have any prior convictions?

Applicants for a New Zealand visa should be of ‘good character’ and not pose a security risk to the country. Character checks are carried out on everyone 17 years or over included in residence applications or applying for a temporary visa for 2 years or more.

How are character checks done?

For certain applications, we will ask you to seek a police certificate from your country of citizenship and any country you have spent a certain amount of time (depending on the type of visa you apply for). These may take a few weeks to several months to obtain, some will cost a fee, and they may delay a visa application. Requirements are different for each country and we will provide instructions and recommendations for that to ensure your application process is stress-free done properly.

Police certificates

Applicants not considered of good character

Certain convictions, offences or actions in any country or against immigration laws (breach of visa conditions, deportation, exclusion) may make you ineligible to apply for a New Zealand visa. You may also be ineligible for a visa or entry permission if the Minister has reason to believe you are likely to commit certain offences in New Zealand or be a threat to security or public order.

Character waivers and Special directions

Depending on the seriousness of the character issue, you may require a character waiver, or in more serious circumstances you may require a special request to the Minister, granted at their discretion.

Character waivers

Character waivers are submissions prepared by your adviser explaining the character issue with  surrounding circumstances and supporting evidence. The final decision whether or not to grant you the waiver is at the discretion of the case officer.

You may require a character waiver if you:

  • have omitted or provided misleading information with a previous New Zealand visa application;
  • have been convicted for immigration and citizenship offences in any country;
  • have any conviction involving physical or sexual violence, illegal drugs or dishonesty;
  • have ever been imprisoned;
  • have been convicted in the last five years of dangerous driving or driving under the influence.
  • have ever publicly made a racist statement or belonged to a racist group.

‍Special Directions

Certain more serious character issues make you ineligible for a New Zealand visa, unless granted by Special Direction. This is a Ministerial decision to grant you a visa as a special case, despite the seriousness of the character issue. You may not be able to apply for a visa if, for example:

  • you have been imprisoned for at least 5 years;
  • you have been in prison for 12 months or more within the last 10 years;
  • you have been removed, excluded, or deported from any country;

If you are in a difficult situation due to character issues, we may be able to help. Contact us today.