New Zealand Permanent Residents are residents of New Zealand, who hold a resident class visa (including both resident visas and permanent resident visas), which – superficially seen – makes them equal to New Zealand citizens. Both resident visas and permanent resident visas give the holders the permanent right to be in New Zealand. However, they have different travel conditions.
This article refers to the term’s “resident” and “permanent resident” only in the scope of immigration purposes and describes the current situation based on the Immigration Act 2009. There are other definitions for residents in tax or electoral affairs.
Similarities between a resident and a permanent resident visa:
to stay in New Zealand indefinitely.
to work in New Zealand or in the exclusive economic zone of New Zealand.
to study in New Zealand.
to receive free or subsidised health care at publicly funded health services.
Differences between a resident and a permanent resident visa:
A permanent resident visa holder is entitled to be granted entry permission at the border at any time, while the resident visa holder is only entitled to apply for entry permission (whether before or after travelling to New Zealand). All other rights become only effective, if entry is granted to the resident visa holder.
Generally, a resident visa is issued with travel conditions, which allow the holder to re-enter the country multiple times until these conditions expire. After that the holder may remain in the country legally but must not leave it or lose its resident status.
Requirements to obtain a permanent residence visa:
hold or have held a resident visa in the last three months
hold, or have held that resident visa for at least two years continuously
be of good character
Differences between a permanent resident and New Zealand citizen:
is entitled to hold and travel on a New Zealand passport
must never be deported from New Zealand
can stand for public office
does not need a visa for their return to New Zealand
is entitled to New Zealand consular protection
may represent New Zealand at international sport events
is entitled to live and work in Australia indefinitely
transmits their citizenship to their children
Pathways to a permanent resident visa:
The way to a permanent resident visa always leads through a two-year resident visa. In any case you will need to be invited to apply for a resident visa by Immigration NZ. Currently there are the following categories through one can obtain a resident visa.