There aren't too many decisions greater than choosing to relocate to the other side of the world. Moving anywhere that takes more than a full day and costs a whole weeks wages to get to, is not only an expensive affair, it's also emotionally challenging. The good news however is that you have already made the hardest decision; to take the plunge and go for it. All you have to do now is successfully make it over a small number of hurdles to get there, starting with New Zealand immigration. Luckily, the laid back kiwi nature is reflected in their immigration process, which assuming you meet the correct visa requirements, should open up the welcoming arms of the land of the long white cloud.
Rightly so, New Zealand wants to ensure the migrants they are opening their doors to, will not only enhance their economy with their skills but are also of good character and will fit in to kiwi society.
If you are looking to work and live in New Zealand permanently, the most common path is the Skilled Migrant category. Based on a points system, applicants need to score a total of 100 points to apply. Points will be awarded for your age (you must be aged 20-55), your work experience, your qualifications, whether you have a job offer, your health, whether you have any family in New Zealand and whether you have any criminal convictions. You will also need to prove you have a solid grasp of the English language.
If you score 100 points, you can submit an Expression of Interest (EOI). This alone will set you back about 160 GBP, so it needs to be something you are seriously considering. This is your initial application where you make your claims for the points you believe you have earned. Expect to set a few hours aside to complete this and it's cheaper to do so online rather than submitting in by mail.
Your EOI will then go in to a pool of interest where a draw is made every fortnight. Any applications with 140 points and over will automatically be draw and invited to apply for residency. After these have been selected, lower scoring EOIs with certain factors, such as skilled employment in New Zealand, will then be drawn.
While you do not need a job offer at this stage to apply, be aware that this will award you an extra 50 points and will be sure to speed up your application and give you more chance of being invited to apply for residency.
Once an EOI has been drawn from the pool, the New Zealand immigration department will exam it and if deemed credible, you will be invited to apply. You will need to show proof of your claims however, including proof of your skills, education, language and if applicable, details of your job offer.
Once your application has been submitted, it will be assessed and you may be invited for an interview with your local New Zealand immigration office, depending on your details. If you meet all the criteria, you will be provided with a residence visa or permit.
If New Zealand Immigration believes you have great potential for the country but would like to see how you settle, they may offer you a work to residence visa or permit. For example you may have applied for residency without a job offer, but your occupation is on the long term or short term skills shortage list or you have a recognised talent in arts, culture or sports. You then have nine months from when you land in the country to secure a job offer and then your residence application will be approved.
Another option is the Family category. This option is for people who want to join a family member who is already a New Zealand citizen or resident. This can include a partner (husband, wife, civil union partner or defacto relationship), a dependent child, a parent or sibling. You will need to prove to New Zealand immigration that your relationship is genuine and if in a defacto relationship will need to prove you have been living together for at least 12 months.
Finally if you are looking to contribute to the economy by setting up your own business, you could apply via the Business and Investment category.
New Zealand immigration is not for the impatient. Gaining your visa or immigration will take time and is a costly affair. On top of visa fees, you also need to provide medical certificates and X-rays from specifically registered medical practises and police certificates. However the best advice to speed up the process is to apply with a job offer and to make sure all forms are completed accurately and all information is provided when asked for. Assuming this is successful, your application may only take a couple of months, sending you on your way to a much brighter future.
Dominic Donaldson is an expert in the travel industry.
Find out more about New Zealand Immigration and the visa options available to those looking to emigrate.