The Lawyers at Laurent Law are often asked to assist with securing a client the approval of a Residence Visa. If this task is completed successfully, it is great news! However, remember that the journey usually does not end there. In this blog, we discuss some of the most important things to consider after the approval of a Residence Visa.

1. Applying for Permanent Residence

A Residence Visa enables the holder to remain in New Zealand permanently, but usually carries travel conditions that allow travel to and from New Zealand for the first 2 years. If a Residence Visa holder never leaves New Zealand, they will have no problem. But if the holder wants to travel to and from New Zealand after the first 2 years, they need to apply for Permanent Residence or a Variation of Travel conditions.

If the holder of a Residence Visa is outside New Zealand with expired travel conditions, the Residence Visa expires. In some situations, the expired Residence Visa may be able to be reinstated, by applying for a “second or subsequent Residence Visa”. However if this is not possible, the process of applying for Residence must start again from the beginning.

The holder of a Permanent Residence Visa is able to remain in New Zealand permanently AND travel to and from New Zealand on a permanent basis (travel conditions are not limited to the first 2 years).

In order to qualify for a Permanent Residence Visa, the holder of a Residence Visa must:

  1. Have held it for at least 24 months;
  2. Have spent their first day in New Zealand as a Resident at least 24 months before the application for Permanent Residence is made;
  3. Demonstrate a “commitment to New Zealand”;
  4. Meet any conditions imposed on their Residence Visa (for example, Residence Visas granted under the Investor categories usually carry “section 49” conditions of either 3 or 4 years in duration, and these must be met before applying for Permanent Residence);
  5. Still meet the requirement to be of good character – usually, no criminal convictions in the meantime.

“Commitment to New Zealand” can be demonstrated in one of five ways. The most common method – because it is the easiest to meet – is spending a significant period of time in New Zealand. This means that they have spent 184 days or more in New Zealand, in each of the two 12 month periods of the 24 months immediately before they apply for Permanent Residence.

There are some other ways to meet the “commitment to New Zealand” requirement, which you can read about in our blog here.

Family members who were included in a Residence application will also qualify for Permanent Residence, where the Principal Applicant meets at least one of the five “commitment to New Zealand” requirements.

2. Applying for a Variation of Travel Conditions

If for some reason a Residence Visa holder does not meet one of the “commitment to New Zealand” requirements for approval of Permanent Residence, but still wishes to travel to and from New Zealand after the first 2 years, they may be able to apply to extend their travel condition (called a “variation” of travel conditions).

The rules relating to variation of travel conditions are quite complicated, so if you need help with this one, we recommend you contact us so we can discuss your situation in detail.

3. Lifting conditions imposed under section 49 Immigration Act 2009

There are some classes of Residence Visas which carry “section 49 conditions”.  This includes those granted Residence under Investor and Parent categories. Discussion of some of these special cases can be found in our blog from February 2019.

If the Residence Visa holder does not comply with s 49 conditions, they will become liable for deportation under section 159 of the Immigration Act 2009. For this reason, it is important to check and understand if your Residence Visa is subject to any section 49 conditions. You can ask us if you are unsure and we will let you know.

4. Avoid getting any criminal convictions!

We come across this one from time to time. The most common situation is a Residence Visa holder will receive a criminal conviction for drink driving within the first 2 years of holding Residence. This starts a process under section 161 Immigration Act 2009. INZ will usually write to the Residence Visa holder to seek comment first, then decide whether to issue a deportation liability notice.

We have a lot of experience assisting Residence Visa holders who have criminal convictions, see our blog on this topic here.

It is also relevant to bear in mind that providing false and misleading information to Immigration New Zealand at any stage is not only a criminal offence under section 342 Immigration Act 2009, it could also make you liable for deportation under section 158 Immigration Act 2009. See our blog on this topic here.

4. Applying for New Zealand citizenship

To qualify for New Zealand citizenship, the following requirements must be met:

  1. The applicant has been living in New Zealand as a Resident for at least the last five years;
  2. They have spent enough time in New Zealand in the last 5 years, which is at least 240 days in each 12-month period and 1,350 days across the 5 years;
  3. They can hold a conversation in English;
  4. They are of good character. Criminal convictions may delay a person’s ability to obtain New Zealand citizenship by a number of years.

For more detail, see our blog about applying for New Zealand citizenship here.

New Zealand allows dual citizenship to be held, so if an applicant’s home country also allows dual citizenship, the result can be that the holder is a citizen of more than one country.

However, some countries do not themselves allow dual citizenship. If you are from one of those countries, then you may face a difficult choice about whether to keep your old nationality, or give it up for New Zealand Citizenship. See our blog about renouncing New Zealand citizenship here.

5. Once you have New Zealand citizenship, you can live and work in Australia too! – it is a significant reward to be able to live and work in both countries

New Zealand citizens are eligible for a Subclass 444 Visa Special Category Visa on arrival in Australia, which allows the holder to study, live and work in Australia. This is a longstanding arrangement existing between New Zealand and Australia, with Australian citizens also entitled to the grant of a Residence Visa on arrival in New Zealand. For some people, the ability to study, live and work in both New Zealand and Australia is an attractive consideration when thinking about migrating to one of the two countries.

If you have done everything right along the way, then as a New Zealand citizen, you could be jetting off to spend some time in Australia soon!

6. Conclusion

As you can see, there is quite a bit to consider after being approved a Residence Visa. Getting Residence is usually the hardest part, but it is certainly not the end of the journey. You may require careful Immigration Advice to achieve the outcome you desire. See our blog on the benefits of using an Immigration expert here.

Please feel welcome to contact us to discuss any of the issues raised here.