Your guide to immigrating to NZ: What you need to know

On this page:

6 FAQ’s about immigrating to NZ


Q1: “What is Immigration Law?”

  • “New Zealand immigration laws provide a framework for New Zealand to manage immigration in a way that balances our national interests with our international obligations, protecting both New Zealanders and migrants.” (Source: Immigration.govt.nz)

  • Here at Harris Tate, we have 3 people in our Tauranga immigration law team


Q2: “Why do individuals and families want to immigrate to New Zealand?”

  • There are many reasons including social, educational, employment, economic, housing, environment, political or cultural reasons

  • Here’s what one of our business clients says about the attraction of moving to New Zealand:
    "New Zealand presents a unique opportunity to invest in a growing economy that is becoming much more balanced and is less tied to unpredictable global forces. At the same time, it offers a quality of life that is unmatched. Given the proximity to raw nature, the people, the schools and the cost of living, I can not imagine a more ideal environment to conduct business."


Q3: “How long does obtaining an immigration visa NZ take?”

Typically 6-9 months depending on the visa (temporary visas are quicker).

This estimate can be complicated by:


Q4: “Which immigration visa should I apply for?”

Did you know there are about 250 types of visas?

There are 7 main types of visas:

It can be confusing to choose the right visa for you, but we can help.


Q5: “Is a Visitor Visa an easy way to eventually immigrate to New Zealand?

Visiting New Zealand on a Visitor Visa is often the way that people fall in love with the country, and vow to return permanently.  But here are 2 examples of mistakes people make when coming to NZ for a short visit on a visitor visa, hoping to use that to immigrate to NZ:

  • Arriving as a visitor and completing information incorrectly on your arrival card (for example stating you are entering NZ for tourist reasons when in fact they are entering the country to get married)

  • Ticking the “no convictions” box hoping to get away with it (the conviction might be over 10 years, or a low level offence that you don’t think is relevant, but it is)

Either of these mistakes could prejudice a later residency application. These pitfalls, and others, are easy to fall into unless you have specialist advice from immigration lawyers like us.


Q6: “Why should I choose Harris Tate to help with my immigration to New Zealand?”

  • Our experience: We’ve had a team of immigration lawyers for over a decade and have collective experience of well over 20 years in helping people obtain NZ visas

  • Our team: Katrina HulseboschMichelle Carabine, and Nicole Wong specialise in immigration law

  • Our results and reputation: We have an 8 step process to guide you. We know all the pitfalls. We’ve helped hundreds of clients both inside and outside New Zealand


How to immigrate to NZ: How to do-it-yourself in 10 steps


  1. A few questions to ask yourself to get started:

    • Where will you live? Who are you bringing with you?

    • Who will you work for? Or, what business do you want to buy or establish or what sort of investment will you make?

    • What school will the children go to?


  2. Choose the visa you want to apply for

    • Did you know there are about 250 types of visas to choose from?

    • Ensure you make the right choice here because you could waste your time and money by applying for the wrong visa

    • Check the criteria thoroughly before applying for any type of visa


  3. Put together all the information you’ll need for your application to minimise any back-and-forth requests for missing information


  4. Determine where to lodge your application form with the correct Immigration NZ office

    • There are 25 offices around the world. If you are applying from outside NZ you will need to find the one closest to you


  5. Pay the correct immigration fee


  6. Obtain the certificates you’ll need

    • You may need need police certificates from every country you’ve lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years

    • You may need to get a chest x-ray and/or medical certificate as proof of your good health. Immigration NZ use x-rays to check for tuberculosis (TB) and medical examinations to check for other medical conditions


  7. Organise certified originals of all your documentation

    • e.g. birth certificates, marriage documents and other documents to prove any claims you make (such as your partnership status, your level of income, business structure charts, proof that you’re a CEO, tax statements), joint property, photos proving relationships etc

    • All your documents will need to be translated into English


  8. Lodge your application with the Immigration NZ office you selected


  9. Deal with any further requests for information from Immigration NZ


  10. Once your visa has been granted, be sure you understand any conditions placed on it

    • Also, be aware of the nuances of NZ law for the effect of a conviction for seemingly minor offences which could result in your visa being cancelled and you and your family facing deportation


Harris Tate can help you immigrate to New Zealand: Our 8 step process


  1. You make initial contact with us


  2. We arrange a first meeting (in person or over the phone/Skype)

    • We seek to understand what your NZ immigration goals are and understand more about your background

    • We outline the immigration process for you


  3. We send you a checklist which covers all the information we need to know so we can fully advise you on your options


  4. We complete an initial assessment of your eligibility for a NZ visa

    • We send you this report and may request additional information for gaps we’ve identified


  5. You make the decision if you want to go ahead with your immigration application

    • We guide you on putting your supporting documentation together

    • We help you complete the specific Immigration NZ form

    • We put together a cover letter for Immigration NZ that draws attention to your unique circumstances


  6. We lodge the application with Immigration NZ on your behalf and liaise with them

    • We deal with any further requests for information from Immigration NZ

    • Our experience with hundreds of applications ensures an efficient process with a very high success rate


  7. Immigration NZ notifies us of their decision


  8. Congratulations, now you can prepare to begin your life in New Zealand!


Why choose Harris Tate for your Business Visa or Investor Visa?

If you suspect that a business or investor visa is the best option for you, you have a major advantage in dealing with us because we are not just immigration lawyers. We can handle all your related legal matters at the same time to make your move easier:

  • All commercial law matters including business acquisitions and setting up business structures

  • Financing

  • Employment law

  • Wills

  • Trusts

  • Buying a house or investment property

And we have a vast network of professionals including:

  • Bankers

  • Business brokers

  • Financial advisors

  • Accountants

Which makes it easy if you want to acquire property, buy a business or set up a business in NZ.

And, even though we are based in Tauranga, we can help whatever part of New Zealand you want to set up in.

Investor Visa: Top 3 tips to get sorted

  1. Decide on your investment (there are a range of prescribed acceptable investments)

  2. Assess whether you meet the detailed and extensive immigration criteria (please note this can and does change regularly and without notice)

  3. Decide whether you can meet the time spent in New Zealand criteria

Business Visa: Top 5 tips to get sorted:

  1. Ensure you meet the minimum points

  2. Travel to NZ for a temporary visit to familiarise yourself with the NZ business landscape and make connections

  3. Understand the options and alternatives (e.g. an investor visa or another type of visa may be more desirable depending on your circumstances)

  4. Understand the time spent in NZ requirements to ensure you can meet criteria

  5. Obtain taxation advice both in NZ and in your home country

Next steps

Call us today on +64 7 578 0059, or contact one of our immigration law team members.