Permanent Resident Visas - what you need to know

24 March 2017

by Alice Anderson, Law Graduate

If you currently have a Resident Visa the next step you may be considering is obtaining a Permanent Resident Visa. This would allow you to remain in New Zealand indefinitely and mean that you did not have any travel conditions attached to your visa, enabling you to travel in and out of New Zealand as and when you liked, whilst still remaining a Permanent Resident. If you aren’t eligible for Permanent Residency just yet, but are looking at travelling overseas on your Resident Visa, this comes as a timely reminder to assess your options and make sure you are familiar with the travel conditions that come with your visa.

Requirements for a Permanent Resident Visa

To apply for a Permanent Resident Visa you must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Hold a Resident Visa, or have held one in the last three months;
  • Hold, or have held, that Resident Visa for at least two years continuously, and it has been at least two years since your first day as a resident in New Zealand;
  • Meet any conditions that your visa was subject to under s 49(1) Immigration Act;
  • Meet the character requirements; and
  • Show you are committed to New Zealand.

Showing commitment to New Zealand

There are five ways in which you can show your commitment to New Zealand, and you need to provide evidence of at least one of these in your application:

1. You have spent enough time in New Zealand
You have spent 184 days or more in New Zealand as a resident in each of the two years before you apply for Permanent Residence.

2. You have New Zealand tax residence status
You are a tax resident in New Zealand if you have been in New Zealand as a resident for 41 days or more in each of the two years before you apply and are assessed as having a tax residence status. However, if you have tax residence in another country, you can’t use your tax residence status to show your commitment to New Zealand.

3. You have invested in New Zealand
You have had NZ$1,000,000 invested in an acceptable New Zealand investment for two years or more.

You have a business in New Zealand
4. You have bought or started a business in New Zealand a year or more ago, that is trading successfully and benefits New Zealand in some way. If you bought an existing business in New Zealand you must have at least a 25% share in the business.

5. You have established a base in New Zealand
You have lived in New Zealand for at least 41 days in the year before applying for Permanent Residency. Further you must have either purchased a home 12 months before or after becoming a Resident and still own that house or live there OR worked full time in New Zealand for 9 months or more in the two years before you applied for Permanent Residence.

What if you haven’t satisfied those requirements?

If you are not eligible for a Permanent Resident Visa, and the travel conditions on your Resident Visa are due to expire, you may be eligible to have your travel conditions extended. This is important, as on a Resident Visa you can stay in New Zealand indefinitely on a resident basis, but you need travel conditions to leave and return as a resident.

Applying for a variation of your travel conditions may allow you more time to return to New Zealand as a resident. Variations of travel conditions can be granted for 24 months, 12 months or 14 days depending on your circumstances.

The Visa label inside your passport contains the details of your visa, and it is important that you understand what it all means. For example, if the NUMBER OF ENTRIES category on your visa states “Multiple”, you may re-enter New Zealand as many times as you want before your EXPIRY DATE TRAVEL, which is the last day you can enter New Zealand. Your Resident Visa will expire if you are outside New Zealand when the travel conditions reach their expiry date.

If you are unable to apply for a Permanent Resident Visa, make sure you are aware of the travel conditions on your Resident Visa and plan any overseas trips according to those conditions. If you need to apply for a variation in your travel conditions, there are certain criteria you will need to meet in order to do so. It will save a lot of time and stress if you are prepared and can apply (if necessary) in advance.