New Zealand Permanent Residence

What is the difference between residency and permanent residency in NZ?

How to become a Permanent Resident in New Zealand

There is a difference between a residence and permanent residence. A Permanent Resident Visa is usually the natural consequence of a Resident Visa. Resident Visas have travel conditions that only allow a person to re-enter New Zealand as a resident until a certain date, while a Permanent Resident Visa allows indefinite re-entry to New Zealand (providing the passport is valid).

The date your resident visa expired is either:

  • the date you left New Zealand, if your travel conditions had already expired when you left, or
  • the day after the date your travel conditions expired, if you were outside New Zealand when your travel conditions expired.

Consequently, if you have been outside New Zealand after your travel conditions have expired, your resident visa has expired too.

If you intend to travel out of New Zealand after your resident visa travel conditions have expired, you need to apply for a permanent resident visa or a subsequent resident visa to regain your resident status.

Am I eligible for Permanent Residence?

To be eligible you must have held your resident visa for at least two years, have met any conditions of your Resident Visa, and have shown a commitment to New Zealand by meeting one of the following criteria:

  • You have spent enough time in New Zealand
  • You have New Zealand tax residence status
  • You have invested in New Zealand
  • You have a business in New Zealand
  • You have established a base in New Zealand

If you do not meet one of these conditions, you may still be eligible to extend the travel conditions on your Resident Visa. This would allow you a longer time to return to New Zealand as a resident.

If you are outside New Zealand without valid travel conditions allowing you to re-enter as a resident, your Resident Visa has expired. In some cases, however, it is possible to seek a Permanent Resident Visa or a new Resident Visa, providing you haven’t been outside of New Zealand long.

Can I apply straight for Permanent Residence?

In the vast majority of cases, you will first need to apply for residence via any of the pathways available to you (the Skilled Migrant's points system, a partner in New Zealand, finding a job, etc.)

In some limited cases however, you may seek directly a Permanent Resident visa outright (without travel conditions). These include:

The most popular way to gaining New Zealand permanent residence is based on skilled migration.

If you are either related to or in a relationship with a New Zealand citizen or resident then you could be eligible to migrate to New Zealand permanently.

If you have an offer of skilled employment from a New Zealand employer then you may be able to seek an Accredited Employer Work Visa.

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