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Residence Class Visas: Living in New Zealand permanently

Stage 2: Getting a Permanent Resident Visa

To get full residence status, free of any restrictions on leaving and re-entering New Zealand, you need to get a “Permanent Resident Visa”. This section explains how to qualify for this visa.

How do I get a Permanent Resident Visa?

INZ Operational Manual: Residence, RV2.5

To get a Permanent Resident Visa, you have to meet all of these requirements:

  • Residence for 2 years – You must have held a Resident Visa continuously for at least the last two years, or held a Resident Visa at some point in the last three months after holding it for at least two years. Also, your first day in New Zealand as a resident must have been at least two years ago.
  • Commitment to New Zealand – You must have shown a commitment to being in New Zealand in one of the ways recognised by Immigration New Zealand (see below).
  • Character issues – You must meet the character requirements for residence (see: “Sponsorship requirements for residence”).
  • Conditions – You must have complied with any conditions that Immigration NZ placed on your Resident Visa. For example, if you were granted residence under the Skilled Migrant category, a condition might have been that you take up an offer of skilled employment within three months of arriving here.

How do I meet the requirement to show a “commitment” to New Zealand?

INZ Operational Manual: Residence, RV2.5

Showing a commitment to being in New Zealand is one of the key requirements for getting a Permanent Resident Visa. You can do this in any of the following ways:

  • Significant time in New Zealand – You’ve been here for at least 184 days (roughly six months) in each of the last two years (so you must have been here at least 184 days in the first year and at least 184 days in the second year).
  • Based in New Zealand – You’ve established a base in New Zealand, as shown by meeting all of the following requirements:
    • you’ve owned a family home here for at least a year, or you have a full-time job here, and
    • you’ve lived here for at least 41 days in the last year, and
    • all your immediate family members who are here under your Resident Visa have lived here for a total of at least 184 days over the last two years (that is, the time here in the first year plus the time here in the second year must add up to at least 184 days).
  • New Zealand tax resident – New Zealand’s Inland Revenue Department (IRD) has recognised you as a New Zealand “tax resident,” and you’ve been here for at least 41 days in each of the last two years.
  • Business or investment – You’ve established a business here or have invested in New Zealand (see Immigration New Zealand’s Operational Manual for more details).

Getting a Permanent Resident Visa as an exception to residence policy

Immigration Act 2009, s 72(3)

If you don’t meet Immigration New Zealand’s residence policy, you may still be able to get a Permanent Resident Visa as an exception to policy.

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Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Immigration New Zealand

Immigration New Zealand is the government organisation that deals with visa applications and other immigration issues. It’s part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Website: www.immigration.govt.nz
Phone: 0508 558 855

The Operational manual contains immigration instructions that people who want to come to New Zealand must follow. While it is not a step-by-step guide, it will help you follow Immigration New Zealand’s processes. Access it here: www.immigration.govt.nz/opsmanual

See also Immigration’s policies and processes: www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/policy-and-law/how-the-immigration-system-operates

Immigration and Protection Tribunal

The Immigration and Protection Tribunal determines appeals on Immigration New Zealand’s decisions about refugee and protection matters.

Website: www.justice.govt.nz/Tribunals/immigration/immigration-and-protection

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