New Zealand Citizenship

New Zealand Citizenship is a special status that grants a number of rights and entitlements. In the case of immigrants, it can be granted after resident visa holders have lived in New Zealand for at least 5 years, and have applied and been successful in their New Zealand Citizenship application.

As compared to permanent residents, the benefits of citizenship are outlined by the Controller and Auditor-General as:

  • 1

    A greater sense of national identity;

  • 2

    Greater degree of "security of tenure" for being in New Zealand (and, indirectly, Australia), because it removes the need to hold a residency visa; and

  • 3

    The right to travel internationally on a New Zealand passport.
    Citizenship is not the same as residence.

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New Zealand Citizenship Processing Time

According to the New Zealand Government, 91% of applicants receive an outcome within 15 months of submitting an application. 95% of applicants are granted citizenship within 19 months.

The processing time for an application may vary based on the following factors:

  • The unique circumstances of the applicant
  • The extent to which automated checks can assess their application

If your application meets any of the following criteria, it may require additional manual checks:

  • You changed your name after migrating to New Zealand
  • There was a gap in your residency status
  • You did not meet the presence requirement on the day you applied for citizenship
  • Your photo does not meet the quality standards required
  • Your data cannot be automatically matched with Immigration New Zealand's records
  • Other government agencies' external checks suggest that you may not meet the requirements.

You Must Be A NZ Resident Before Obtaining NZ Citizenship

Before you can become a citizen you must first negotiate your way through the residence visa process.

There are multiple pathways to achieve this including being in a relationship (married or de facto, straight or same sex) with the New Zealander.

Limited pathways exist for parents of NZ residents or citizens through investment and/or having adult children residing in NZ

Can I Apply for NZ Citizenship Before 5 Years?

To be eligible for citizenship, you are required to have been physically present in New Zealand as a resident for a specific duration within the last 5 years. The 5-year period is calculated backwards from the day you apply for citizenship.

To fulfill this obligation, you must have been in New Zealand for:

  • A minimum of 240 days in each 12-month period, and
  • A total of 1,350 days over the 5-year period.

If you have been absent from New Zealand for more than 4 months in any 12-month period, you may not meet this requirement. This can be due to a single prolonged trip or several shorter ones.

NZ Citizenship is easier to obtain for Skilled Migrants

Various pathways exist for the highly skilled but all require evidence of an offer of or current employment in New Zealand. The maximum age to qualify is 56 at the time you file your resident visa application.

These pathways can be a:

  • Points based system where ‘points’ are awarded primarily for an applicant’s age, education, years of skilled and relevant work experience along with an offer of/current skilled employment in NZ;

    OR

  • Work to residence - two years working in NZ in a small range of occupations (non points tested);

    OR

  • Green list occupations - allowing a resident visa to be filed if under the age of 56 and in possession of an offer of skilled employment in a range of occupations;

    OR

  • Those earning twice the median salary can also apply for a resident visa (non points tested)

NZ residence through Investment - Business Investors

Individuals who are able to significantly contribute to New Zealand’s economy by investing in NZ’s private sector or government, or by starting their own business, can obtain residence.

Applicants are screened for their age, business experience, the source of the funds (they must be lawfully obtained), the amount they wish to invest, health and character.

Investments in New Zealand will be for 3 or 4 years and are considered acceptable if they are:

  • have the potential to make a commercial return
  • are able to contribute to New Zealand's economy
  • Not being put towards ‘personal use’ assets such as homes, cars or boats

There are 2 pathways for investors based on the amount invested:

  • Investor 1 (minimum investment NZ$10 million for at least three years)
  • Investor 2 (minimum investment NZ$3 million for at least four years).

A pathway exists for those who wish to become self-employed known as the Entrepreneur Work and Resident Visa but it is a failed policy with extremely high failure rates. We caution against trying to achieve residence using that pathway.

How To Get 
New Zealand Citizenship?

  • 1

    NZ Citizenship By Birth

  • 2

    NZ Citizenship By Descent

  • 3

    NZ Citizenship By Adoption

  • 4

    NZ Citizenship By Application

  • 5

    NZ Citizenship By Marriage, Civil Union Or De Facto Relationship

  • 6

    NZ residence through Investment

  • 7

    Skilled Migrant

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NZ Citizenship By Birth

New Zealand citizenship is granted automatically if you are born in New Zealand before 1 January 2006. If you are born in NZ after 1 January 2006 then at least one of your parents must also be a citizen or resident visa holder of NZ.

NZ Citizenship By Descent

If you’re born overseas and you have a parent that is a NZ citizen other than by descent, then you are a New Zealand citizen. However, if you would otherwise be stateless, an exception is allowed and either parent can be a citizen by descent.

NZ Citizenship By Adoption

Anyone who is adopted by a NZ citizen becomes a NZ citizen themselves.

NZ Citizenship By Application

Immigrants who do not meet any of the above criteria can apply and be granted citizenship if they meet other qualifying factors outlined by the NZ citizenship criteria. This is the path pursued by residents, and requires that immigrants reside in NZ for at least 5 years with total and annual requirements for NZ residence. 

To meet this requirement, you need to have been in New Zealand for at least 240 days in each 12-month period, and 1,350 days across the 5 years. You must also intend to keep living in NZ in the future.

There are some ways to speed up and make your application more likely to succeed. The following are categories of citizenship by application which can make you more likely to succeed. 

NZ Citizenship By Marriage, Civil Union Or De Facto Relationship:

Partnership is defined as 2 people of opposite sex or same sex that live in a stable and genuine relationship under one roof.

Marriage, Civil Union or de facto relationships can speed up your ability to obtain resident status. Usually to obtain resident status requires that you live with your NZ partner for 12 months.

To leverage your relationship with a NZ citizen/resident you should be ready to provide evidence of your relationship.

NZ residence through Investment

Individuals who are able to significantly contribute to New Zealand’s economy by investing in NZ’s private sector or government, or by starting their own business, can obtain residence.

Investments are considered acceptable if they are:

  • Must have the potential to make a commercial return
  • Must be able to contribute to the New Zealand's economy
  • Cannot be put towards ‘personal use’ assets such as homes, cars or boats

There are 2 categories of investors based on the amount invested:

  • Investor 1 (minimum investment NZ$10 million for at least three years)
  • Investor 2 (minimum investment NZ$3 million for at least four years).

A pathway exists for those who wish to become self employed known as the Entrepreneur Work and Resident Visa but it is a failed policy with extremely high failure rates.

Skilled Migrant

Various pathways exist for the highly skilled but all require evidence of an offer of or current employment in New Zealand.

These pathways can be a:

  • Points based system where ‘points’ are awarded primarily for an applicant’ age, education, years of skilled and relevant work experience along with an offer of/current skilled employment in NZ;

    OR

  • Work to residence - two years working in NZ in a small range of occupations (non points tested);

    OR

  • Green list occupations - allowing a resident visa to be filed if under the age of 56 and in possession of an offer of skilled employment in a range of occupations;

    OR

  • Those earning twice the median salary can also apply for a resident visa (non points tested)

Migrate to New Zealand

IMMagine Immigration offers a range of immigration services, including assistance with Student Visas, Partner Visas, Work Visas, and Citizenship Applications.

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NZ Dual Citizenship

NZ does not have any rules that bar you from having dual citizenship or multiple citizenship. Certain other countries have limitations on dual citizenship, and so it’s important to check this to make sure. If your current country of citizenship doesn’t allow for dual citizenship, then you will be required to renounce your second citizenship. It’s also possible to voluntarily give up your NZ citizenship in order to keep citizenship in another country.

NZ Citizenship Cost

The base cost to submit a NZ citizenship application is currently $470.20 for adults aged 16 and over and $235.10 for children aged 15 and under. However, to be successful it’s important to have your application prepared to a very high standard.

Hiring immigration lawyers can take the stress out of the citizenship application.

How Long Does It Take To Get NZ Citizenship?

It usually takes 12 months for an application to be reviewed, however this may change based on individual circumstances as well as the volume of applications.. This is why it’s important to get the application right, failing to provide all of the right documents can result in your application being rejected and another lengthy and expensive review.

Applying For NZ Citizenship From Permanent Residency

One of the requirements to achieve NZ citizenship is to live in NZ for an extended period of time. The most common stepping stone for this is first becoming a resident (Resident Visa).

You can apply for citizenship status if you have been living in NZ for at least 5 years as a resident visa holder. This gives you the major benefit of being able to travel to and from NZ whenever you require on a NZ passport.

NZ Citizenship For Australian Citizens

The process for becoming a NZ citizen is significantly simplified for Australian citizens. This is because Australian citizens don’t require a visa to live and work in New Zealand, unlike other nationals.

begin your citizenship journey

IMMagine Immigration offers a range of immigration services, including assistance with Student Visas, Partner Visas, Parent Visas, and Work Visas.
Attend a Free Seminar