This FAQ page offers insightful guidance on various aspects of relocating to New Zealand, including visa processes, job searching, financial planning, health, and education system insights and more.

The information provided in this FAQ section is for informational purposes only and reflects data as of 24th of March 2024. It constitutes general information on immigration issues and should not be considered as advice. For personalized guidance on specific immigration matters, please consult with Suzanne Fay, immigration adviser and director at Job for Visa.

New Zealand Visa and Immigration Process

Q: Do I need a visa to live, work, or study in New Zealand?

A: Yes, you will need a visa to live, work, or study in New Zealand.

Some exceptions may apply: Australian citizens and permanent residents may enter and work in New Zealand without obtaining a visa beforehand, thanks to the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement. Citizens from countries with visa waiver agreements with New Zealand can visit for short-term tourism or business visits without a visa, but they must obtain an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) before traveling.

The type of visa required depends on the purpose of your stay, such as employment, education, or residency. For tourism purposes, requirements vary by nationality; for instance, Hungarian citizens can enter New Zealand for tourism without a visa but are required to obtain an entry permit. It's important to check the specific visa and entry requirements for your nationality on the New Zealand Immigration website or through their embassy or consulate in your country. Or consult with an immigration adviser to ensure compliance with current requirements and to understand any conditions that may apply.

Q: What are the language requirements for applying for residency in New Zealand?

A: For residency applications, the primary applicant needs to demonstrate a higher level of English proficiency. Specifically, before applying, the main applicant must achieve a score of at least 6.5 in the IELTS test, or a comparable score in an equivalent language proficiency test. This requirement ensures that applicants can fully engage in New Zealand society and the workforce.

Q: How difficult is it to obtain a visa for New Zealand?

A: The difficulty of obtaining a visa for New Zealand depends on your nationality and profession. For example, it's generally easier for nationals from countries like the UK, South Africa, and Singapore due to similarities in the educational systems. The process can be more straightforward for certain professions, such as doctors, who must have their qualifications recognized and register with the local medical council. Essentially, if you secure a job offer that meets visa requirements, the process from that point can be quite straightforward.

Q: How long after receiving residency can I apply for New Zealand citizenship?

A: After obtaining your residency permit, you can apply for New Zealand citizenship five years later. This period allows you to establish your life in New Zealand and demonstrate your commitment to being a part of the country before taking the step to become a citizen.

Q: If I want to extend my work visa, do I need to leave New Zealand?

A: No, you do not need to leave New Zealand to extend your work visa. The extension process can be completed within the country without the need to return to your home country. You will need to submit the necessary paperwork, but leaving New Zealand is not required.

Q: Should I apply for the Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) visa if I already have a Working Holiday visa, and do I need to leave New Zealand to apply?

A: If you're currently in New Zealand on a Working Holiday visa and considering applying for an SSE visa, there's no need to leave the country. It's actually better to stay in New Zealand. You can simply apply for the SSE visa and, after paying the visa fee, wait a day or two for processing. There should be no issue transitioning from a Working Holiday to an SSE visa. Leaving and trying to re-enter New Zealand could raise questions at the border regarding your intentions, potentially complicating your re-entry or future visa applications.

Q: How many years of work are needed to qualify for a pension in New Zealand?

A: To qualify for the New Zealand pension, you need to have worked in the country for at least 10 years after the age of 20, with 5 of those years being after the age of 50. New Zealand does not have a fixed retirement age, but many people choose to retire after 65. The state pension is designed to provide basic support, and it's recommended to contribute to a private pension fund as well. The government requires a minimum contribution of 3% of your salary to a private pension fund, which many employers match or exceed as an additional benefit. This system encourages self-provision for retirement rather than relying solely on the state.

Q: What financial requirements exist for retirement immigration to New Zealand?

A: For those considering retiring to New Zealand, significant financial investment is required. A typical requirement includes investing at least one million NZD in the country, alongside proving an annual income of at least 60,000 NZD. Additionally, applicants must meet health and character requirements and purchase comprehensive health insurance that covers a wide range of medical procedures. This pathway is designed for individuals who can fully support themselves financially and thus will not be a burden on New Zealand’s resources.

Q: Can I sponsor my parents for immigration to New Zealand?

A: Yes, there is a possibility to sponsor your parents to come to New Zealand. The sponsor needs to demonstrate an income at least 1.5 times the median wage for sponsoring one parent, and this requirement increases if you wish to sponsor both parents. The current income thresholds are set at 96,000 NZD for one parent and escalate to 131,000 NZD for two parents. In addition to meeting income requirements, sponsors must also ensure they can cover their relatives' healthcare and insurance needs, meeting health and character requirements. This sponsorship pathway offers a means to bring family members to New Zealand, provided the financial and health requirements are satisfied.

Working in New Zealand Process and Opportunities

Q: What is the process of employment in New Zealand?

A: In New Zealand, the employment process starts with securing a job offer from an employer registered in New Zealand. Depending on your profession and the specifics of your job offer, you can apply for different types of visas. Most people initially apply for a work visa, which is usually granted for five years. During these five years, there's an opportunity to accumulate points to apply for residency under the current system.

Q: What kind of job opportunities are available?

A: There are various job opportunities depending on your skills and qualifications. New Zealand has introduced a points-based system for residency applications, simplifying the old 120-point system. Points are awarded for qualifications, NZ registration in a specified occupation requiring at least 2 years or more, salary bands (the higher the salary, the more points), and the number of years worked in New Zealand. Once you accumulate enough points, you can apply for residency.

Q: Are there any priority professions or special lists?

A: Yes, New Zealand has a "Green List" of on-demand professions, which is updated regularly based on current needs. This list includes criteria such as salary bands and specific qualifications. If your profession is on the Green List and you have a job offer that meets the criteria, you may be eligible to apply directly for residency from abroad. This means you can enter the country with residency status, which is an excellent opportunity.

Q: What about different sectors and criteria for residency?

A: There are specific sectors with unique criteria, such as Care Workforce, Transport Sectors, and others. These sectors have their requirements and opportunities for faster residency based on salary levels and other conditions. For example, in some cases, you may only need to work for two years instead of three to qualify for certain residency applications. This framework provides a comprehensive system for employment and residency in New Zealand.

Q: What professions are given priority in New Zealand?

A: Engineers are highly sought after in New Zealand, including almost all types of engineers such as mechanical engineers, construction managers, civil engineers (including road and bridge engineers). Additionally, the medical field, including doctors and nurses, is in high demand. New Zealand maintains a "Green List" that is regularly updated and accessible on the NZ Immigration website, indicating professions with accelerated pathways to residency. This list reflects positions currently considered in high demand by the market.

Q: Are qualifications and experience important for these preferred professions?

A: Yes, having a qualification, such as a degree or professional training, is necessary, but it's also important to have relevant work experience. Fluent English is a significant advantage due to the diverse immigrant population in New Zealand, where high English proficiency is not always common. Experience within the Anglo-Saxon system is particularly valued, as it ensures compatibility with local practices and systems, making it easier for employers to integrate workers from countries like England without the need for extensive orientation or training.

Q: How does the current point system work for residency?

A: The New Zealand immigration points system awards points for various factors critical to the country's labor market needs. You can earn points for your level of qualification (with specific points for different levels), or additional points are given based on your earnings relative to the median salary (with higher earnings receiving more points). Or professional registration or required vocational training in your field also adds points, recognizing the need for certified professionals. And for every year of work experience in New Zealand, you gain 1 additional point, valuing local labor market familiarity. Furthermore, holding a position deemed as high demand or covered under a special agreement can further increase your points, acknowledging the importance of your role to New Zealand's economy and societal needs.

For the most current and accurate information, it's best to consult the official New Zealand Immigration website or contact an official immigration adviser. Immigration policies can change, and they might have introduced new systems or rules after our last update on this subject.

Q: Do I need to pass a language exam to apply for a work visa in New Zealand?

A: No, a language exam is not required for a work visa application. The assumption is that if your language skills meet the employer's needs, they will also be satisfactory for immigration purposes. Your ability to communicate effectively in the workplace is the key concern.

Q: What about the list of accredited companies?

A: You can search online here to find out if a company is accredited or not. The accreditation process can take anywhere from approximately 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the company and the specific situation.

Q: What opportunities are there for individuals over 40 in New Zealand?

A: Being over 40 is not seen as a disadvantage; you are still considered young, especially if you are under 56 and looking to settle. At 40, you likely have valuable experience and are not a recent graduate, which can be appealing in the job market. The middle age can be an ideal time to make a move, thanks to the combination of experience and the potential for many productive years ahead in a new country.

Q: What percentage of my gross salary will be my net income in New Zealand?

A: In New Zealand, the percentage of your gross salary that becomes your net income depends on how much you earn, as taxes are applied in brackets or tiers. Tax rates range from 10.5% to 39%, with the principle being the more you earn, the higher the percentage of your income you'll pay in taxes. This tiered system means that as your income increases, so does the tax rate applied to portions of your income within each specific bracket.

Starting Your Job Hunt and Immigration Process in New Zealand

Q: What are the first steps in realistically assessing my chances with a certain job role in New Zealand?

A: The initial step involves evaluating whether your desired job role has a realistic chance for residency under the current rules, whether it's likely or almost impossible. For some professions, it might take up to five years before you can apply for residency. Understanding the job market and whether your profession is in demand is crucial at this stage.

Q: What is the most effective way to search for jobs in New Zealand from my home country?

A: Searching online is a common approach, but it's crucial to understand the competitive landscape. Despite the numerous job postings and widespread discussions about labor shortages in New Zealand, employers are exceptionally selective, and competition is fierce, attracting applicants from all over the world. New Zealand employers often look for 'unicorns' – candidates who perfectly match their specific needs across various sectors. Securing a job offer is key as it allows you to apply for a work visa, and in some fortunate cases, directly for residency if the role is in a high-demand or specialized sector.

Q: Why is it challenging to get noticed by employers in New Zealand?

A: Many applications may not even reach the employer's inbox due to filtering processes, especially if you indicate you do not have the right to work in New Zealand, a common question on job applications. My advice is to focus on enhancing your LinkedIn and other professional profiles. This is a labor-intensive task, but it significantly improves your chances. Unlike in Europe, where skilled professionals, like engineers or IT specialists, might receive multiple job inquiries daily, in New Zealand, the scenario is reversed. You must actively reach out and make your presence known, often without receiving any responses, which can be demoralizing but is a reality to be prepared for when job hunting from abroad.

Q: How can I improve my chances of finding a job in New Zealand from my home country?

A: Networking and optimizing your online presence are key strategies. Actively engaging with potential employers and professionals in your field through LinkedIn and other platforms can help. It's also essential to tailor your applications and CV to match the New Zealand job market's expectations, highlighting your unique skills and experiences. Understanding that finding a job from abroad is a time-consuming and challenging process is crucial, but persistence and a strategic approach can eventually yield positive results.

Q: Can you help me find a job in New Zealand?

A: While I can guide you on how the New Zealand job market works and what companies are looking for, I do not offer job placement services. My assistance is in advising how to enhance your CV to make it more appealing to potential employers, networking strategies to increase your chances, and navigating the job search process. It's important to note that revamping a CV does not mean fabricating experiences but presenting your achievements in a way that highlights your value to employers.

Q: What happens after I get a job offer?

A: Once you have a job offer, you can apply for a work visa. For certain high-demand or special agreement roles, you might even be eligible for immediate residency. If you start with a work visa, typically, you'd have three to five years to apply for residency based on employment, depending on the visa conditions and your situation.

Financial Preparation for Immigration to New Zealand

Q: How much financial backing is needed for immigration to New Zealand?

A: The amount of money you need to immigrate to New Zealand can vary widely based on individual circumstances, but a general estimate for a single person's monthly living expenses could be around 3-4,000 NZD. This estimate includes average rent, meals, and other typical living expenses. For a family, I often suggest bringing minimum 15,000 NZD as a starting point. This amount should be considered separate from the costs of airfare, visa application fees, agent fees, and initial housing deposits; it's meant to serve as accessible reserve funds. While it's possible to immigrate with less, having a safety net can lead to a less stressful transition.

Q: Is it worth shipping personal belongings in a container, or should I purchase everything locally upon arrival in New Zealand?

A: This decision largely depends on your personal preferences and the value you attach to your belongings. If you lean towards minimalism, like me, you might find that bringing only essential items, such as a few personal and sentimental objects, in your luggage suffices. This approach minimizes hassle and cost, allowing you to start fresh in New Zealand. Many essential items can be acquired locally without much difficulty.

Q: What should I consider if thinking about shipping a container to New Zealand?

A: Shipping a full container can be expensive if undertaken individually. However, sharing a container with others can significantly reduce costs, making it a more viable option. It's important to note that shipping can take up to six months, so planning is essential. High-quality furniture and certain antiques might justify the cost of shipping due to the high prices of premium goods in New Zealand. In contrast, lower-quality items are affordable but may not last long.

Q: What about purchasing furniture and other necessities in New Zealand?

A: Quality furniture can be pricey in New Zealand, but there are plenty of second-hand options that offer good value. The second-hand market is robust, allowing newcomers to furnish their homes affordably or even for free. Be prepared for some quality issues with cheaper new items. For books and other easily transportable items, bringing them with you on the plane in checked luggage might be the most cost-effective solution, ensuring they arrive when you do. Ultimately, how much you decide to bring vs. buy locally will depend on your attachment to certain items and your budget considerations.

Health Requirements for Residency in New Zealand

Q: What health condition is required for residency in New Zealand?

A: New Zealand has a "Health Requirement" for residency applications, meaning applicants need to be in good health to be granted residency. There are specific conditions listed that are generally not accepted as meeting the health standards required for residency.

Q: Are there any exceptions to health conditions for residency?

A: Yes, while there are health conditions that may disqualify an applicant, there is a specific rule that certain levels of impairment may not necessarily be a reason for disqualification. This means that not all health conditions or impairments automatically prevent one from qualifying for residency; each case is evaluated on its own merits.

New Zealand’s Education System Overview

Q: What is the education system like in New Zealand?

A: New Zealand's education system is comprehensive and caters to diverse needs from an early age. Children typically attend kindergarten (combined with preschool) until they are about 5 years old, at which point they start primary school. Starting school can happen anytime after a child turns 5, with most parents choosing to enroll their children as soon as they reach this age. Continuous enrollment throughout the year allows for flexibility, not limiting entry to specific terms. The academic year begins in February and ends in mid-December, aligning with the summer season in New Zealand.

Q: Would learning English before moving to New Zealand benefit my children?

A: While preparing your children with basic English skills can seem beneficial, the practical necessity might be less significant than expected. Children adapt quickly and can become proficient in English within a few months of immersion in the local environment. Therefore, focusing on their adaptability and ensuring they feel supported at home may be more crucial for their smooth integration into New Zealand life. The education system's supportive and flexible approach allows children to learn and integrate at their own pace, making pre-arrival English lessons less critical than one might assume.

Q: How inclusive is New Zealand's society for newcomers, especially children?

A: New Zealand is generally welcoming and inclusive. Bullying exists, as it does everywhere, but the multicultural and multiethnic makeup of schools reflects a society accustomed to integration. Newcomer children, even those who do not speak English upon arrival, are a common sight in schools. The experience can vary, especially in smaller towns less accustomed to foreigners, but many families report positive experiences and significant support from local communities. The emphasis is on being open and making efforts to integrate, which can lead to a smooth transition for children.

Q: What is the approach to bullying and diversity in New Zealand schools?

A: While bullying exists, as it does in many places, New Zealand's multicultural and multiethnic school environment fosters acceptance and inclusivity. The education system is accustomed to integrating children from various backgrounds, including non-English speakers, ensuring a welcoming atmosphere for newcomers.

Q: Are there separate schools for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in New Zealand?

A: New Zealand’s education system is highly integrated, meaning children with various needs, including those with Asperger's syndrome, ADHD, and physical disabilities, are integrated into mainstream classrooms. Special schools come into the picture for cases requiring intensive, specialized care where a child cannot effectively learn or communicate in a standard classroom setting. However, until such a level of need is reached, the system aims to include them fully with their peers, promoting a highly inclusive environment. The focus is on creating an environment where every child can learn and thrive at their own pace, without undue pressure.

Q: Can international students work while studying at a university in New Zealand?

A: Yes, students on a student visa can work up to 20 hours per week during the semester and full-time during scheduled breaks. This opportunity is valuable for building local networks and gaining work experience, which is highly regarded in New Zealand.

Culture and Lifestyle In New Zealand

Q: How common are pollen allergies in New Zealand, and how does it compare to ragweed allergies common in other countries?

A: Pollen allergies are present in New Zealand, with certain areas being more pollen-dense than others. Unlike some countries in Europe where ragweed is a significant allergen, New Zealand does not have ragweed. This means individuals who suffer specifically from ragweed allergies might find some relief in New Zealand. However, those allergic to other types of pollen may still experience allergies due to the abundant flora. The flowering cycles in New Zealand can be more intense, with some plants flowering multiple times a year, increasing exposure to flower pollen. Additionally, animal dander is a common allergen, with a variety of animals present throughout the country, affecting those with sensitivities to animal fur or wool.

Q: How welcoming and friendly are the locals in New Zealand?

A: Locals in New Zealand, commonly referred to as Kiwis, are generally known for being incredibly welcoming and friendly. Many Kiwis consider themselves, or their ancestors, to be immigrants, which contributes to a nonjudgmental and inclusive attitude towards newcomers. Unlike some places where the term "migrant" might carry negative connotations, in New Zealand, migration is viewed more positively, largely due to the country's smaller scale of immigration compared to some parts of Europe.

Q: Is it easy to make friends and integrate socially in New Zealand?

A: While Kiwis are open to making new acquaintances, forming deep friendships may require time and effort, similar to anywhere else. Integration and building lasting relationships depend significantly on your willingness to engage with locals and participate in community life. It's important to step out of your comfort zone and not limit your social interactions to people from your own country or background. True friendship develops through shared experiences, challenges, and time, so managing expectations and being proactive in socializing can enhance your integration process in New Zealand.

Q: How is the work-life balance in New Zealand compared to European standards?

A: The work-life balance in New Zealand is generally considered excellent, especially when compared to the faster-paced European work environment. Locals, or Kiwis, have a different perception of what constitutes a lot of work and what is considered overwhelmingly stressful. When Kiwis mention being overworked or stressed, it might seem like a relatively light day in a typical European or American corporate culture. The culture in New Zealand strongly supports leaving work at work, encouraging employees not to work on weekends and to enjoy their personal time. Many companies have adopted practices like finishing early on Fridays and experimenting with four-day workweeks, enhancing the work-life balance.

Q: Is there discrimination in the workplace or daily life in New Zealand?

A: While New Zealand is generally inclusive, it's true that newcomers, especially those on visas, might initially find themselves earning less than local employees with the same qualifications and experience. This gap has been narrowing, especially post-COVID, as the job market adjusts and values skills and contributions more equitably. However, new immigrants might feel they have to prove their worth more so than locals initially. It's important to note that New Zealand employers highly value team cohesion and social compatibility, emphasizing the importance of being able to socialize and collaborate well with colleagues.

Q: What are the characteristic national dishes of New Zealand?

A: New Zealand's culinary landscape includes both traditional Māori dishes and contemporary cuisine influenced by European and Asian flavors. Here are some notable examples:

Hāngi: A traditional Māori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven. It typically involves a variety of meats and vegetables, including potatoes and cabbage, all slow-cooked to perfection in the earth.

Meat Pies: While not unique to New Zealand, meat pies have become a staple snack or meal, available in countless flavors and fillings, from minced meat and cheese to more gourmet options incorporating curry and other spices.

Fish and Chips: Borrowed from British cuisine, this dish is immensely popular in New Zealand, featuring freshly caught fish fried in batter alongside deep-fried chips.

Green-Lipped Mussels: A specific variety of mussel native to New Zealand, known for its larger size and distinctive green hue around the edges. It's a seafood delicacy often prepared steamed, grilled, or incorporated into various dishes.

Pavlova: A meringue-based dessert topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, often berries. Pavlova is a subject of friendly contention between Australia and New Zealand, with both countries claiming its origin.

Q: How common are earthquakes in New Zealand?

A: New Zealand is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, making earthquakes a frequent occurrence due to its volcanic nature and the fault line running between the North and South Islands. While small tremors, ranging from magnitudes 2 to 4, are common and often barely noticeable, the country has experienced significant seismic events in its history.

The Christchurch earthquake 13 years ago was one of the most devastating in recent times, causing extensive damage to the city and tragically resulting in loss of life. It was followed by a strong aftershock, with a magnitude around 7 or 8, which further impacted the region.

Since then, there have been numerous aftershocks and smaller quakes, but none have matched the intensity of the Christchurch event in terms of causing widespread structural damage. New Zealanders have become quite adept at dealing with the reality of living in an earthquake-prone country, with building codes and emergency preparedness measures designed to mitigate the risks associated with seismic activity.

Bringing Pets to New Zealand

Q: What are the general requirements for bringing pets into New Zealand?

A: New Zealand has strict biosecurity laws to protect its unique environment, which extend to the importation of pets. Starting preparations at least six months before your intended departure is critical.

Here are the key requirements for bringing pets, especially cats and dogs, into New Zealand:

Microchipping: Pets must be microchipped, and all medical records need to be accurately linked to your pet.

Rabies Vaccination and Testing: Although New Zealand is rabies-free, pets from most countries must be vaccinated against rabies and undergo a Rabies Antibody Titer test to confirm the effectiveness of the vaccination.

Other Vaccinations: Ensure your pet receives all other required vaccinations.

Dogs must be vaccinated against DHPP/Bordetella, Canine Influenza H3N2 and H3N8. Cats must be given FVRCP.

In addition, dogs and cats require additional treatments and blood tests before departure to meet the import requirements of New Zealand.

Parasite Treatment: Pets must undergo treatments for internal and external parasites several times before arrival, with specific timings outlined in the importation guidelines.

Veterinary Inspection: A series of veterinary inspections and certifications are required to ensure the pet is healthy and fit to travel. This includes a final check within a specific timeframe before departure.

Quarantine: Pets from most countries are required to undergo quarantine upon arrival in New Zealand for a minimum of 10 days. The duration and specifics of quarantine may vary based on the country of origin.

Import Permit: An import permit from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is necessary for all pets entering New Zealand. The application for this permit should include detailed information about the pet and comply with all importation requirements.

Approved Country List: Pets can only be imported directly from countries that are approved by New Zealand's biosecurity laws. If your pet is not from an approved country, it must spend six months in an approved country and meet all entry requirements from that country.

These requirements are general guidelines, and specific conditions may vary depending on the type of animal and its country of origin. It's crucial to consult the MPI website or contact them directly for the most current and detailed information regarding pet importation into New Zealand.

The information provided in this FAQ section is for informational purposes only and reflects data as of 24th of March 2024. It constitutes general information on immigration issues and should not be considered as advice. For personalized guidance on specific immigration matters, please consult with Suzanne Fay, immigration adviser and director at Job for Visa.