When applying for citizenship in New Zealand, you can either apply through citizenship by grant or by descent. To apply by descent means one of your parents is a New Zealand citizen. To apply by grant means you gain citizenship by establishing residency in New Zealand, which requires having a series of visas and living in New Zealand before you can gain citizenship.
Have one parent who is a New Zealand citizen.
To gain citizenship through this method, you need to have one parent who is or was a New Zealand citizen. In other words, if one of your parents moved out of New Zealand and you were born elsewhere, you are eligible for this type of citizenship.
Check for citizenship if you were born in the country.
If you were born in New Zealand but have lived elsewhere, you may already be a citizen by birth. The citizenship office can tell you more, so contact them to find out about the status of your citizenship.
Gain citizenship by adoption.
You can also gain citizenship this way if you were adopted from another country by parents who were New Zealand citizens. However, you will need to provide more documentation with your application, including your adoption documents.
Have a permanent residency visa.
To gain citizenship, you must first have a permanent residency visa. You must have had some form of residency status for 5 years and have lived in New Zealand during that time period.
Decide if citizenship by grant is the correct route for you. Most people will need to gain citizenship by grant, as they don’t have a parent who’s a New Zealand resident. If that’s the case, you’ll need to meet certain requirements first before you are eligible to be a New Zealand citizen.
Have fluency in English.
While you don’t need to be fluent enough to write a novel in English, you need to have enough English to be able to make everyday transactions. For instance, you need to know enough to deal with the cashier at the grocery store or the teller at the bank.
Intend to keep living in New Zealand.
You can’t apply for citizenship in New Zealand with the intention of living elsewhere after you gain citizenship. You must have the intention of staying and making a home in New Zealand.
Show you’re of good character.
In this case, “good character” means not being involved in criminal activities. Mostly, it means larger offenses, such as fraud or other convictions, though even some traffic fines can discredit your eligibility.
Have the appropriate documents ready.
You’ll need your birth certificate, as well as your passport. The passport can be expired. You’ll also need two passport photos of yourself. The photos must be identical, in color, and have been taken recently.
The application can be found online.
Fill in the application.
Pick the appropriate application, either by grant or descent. Once again, you’ll need to fill in biographical information on you and your parents. You’ll also need to answer questions about where you live, your residency status, and your fluency in English. You’ll have another section about any criminal charges you may have faced.
The application for by descent is slightly less complicated than by grant.
Have it witnessed.
You will need an adult to witness your signature of the application. A citizenship officer can be your witness. Whoever acts as the witness must also have a New Zealand passport.
The person cannot live at the same address or be a relation.
Pay the fee.
You have to pay fees to complete your application. As of 2016, those fees were about NZ$500 to complete the citizenship by grant application, though they are subject to change. For citizenship by descent, the application fee is about NZ$200. You also must pay a fee if your citizenship is denied.
Send or walk the application in.
Once your application is completed, you can either send in your application by mail or make an appointment to go to one of the citizenship offices. The locations to walk the application in are in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, and Manukau. The addresses are on the online application.
If you mail it in, make sure to use a “track and trace” courier bag. Mail the application to Department of Internal Affairs, PO Box 10680, Wellington 6143
Take the oath or affirmation.
You must take either an oath or affirmation to become a citizen by grant. Basically, you’ll just stand up at a ceremony and say you pledge loyalty to New Zealand. The oath is religious (it includes “so help me God”) while the affirmation is not. You also take the oath on a religious book.
Have a resident visa.
To have a resident visa, you must fill out the application to gain the visa. You also most have already have been a resident or former resident of New Zealand, which means you must have studied or worked there on a different visa beforehand.
Live in New Zealand for 2 years.
To gain permanent residency, you need to have already lived in New Zealand for 2 years under another a resident visa. A resident visa grants you the right to live in New Zealand for a certain amount of time, while permanent resident visa grants you permission to live there indefinitely.
For this criteria to be met as a “commitment” to New Zealand, you must have actually been in New Zealand for 184 days each year of the past 2 years.
Remember that eligibility requirements can be different depending on what country you’re coming from, so make sure to check the application for your country.
Have tax residence status.
Another option to gain a permanent resident visa is to have had tax residence status for at least 41 days in each year for the last two years. That means you must have held a job and been paying taxes to the New Zealand government.
Create a business in New Zealand.
Having a business established in New Zealand can also give you eligibility for permanent residency. You must have had this business open for at least a year before applying.
Maintain an investment in New Zealand.
Another way to gain a permanent resident visa is to have an investment of NZ$1,000,000 in New Zealand for at least 2 years. You will need to have had the investment for all 24 months; you can’t have withdrawn it at any point.
Create a base in New Zealand.
You can also establish a base in New Zealand as a way of meeting the commitment part of the permanent residency visa. Basically, that means that you have bought and maintain a house in New Zealand.
Fill out the application.
Once you’ve met one of the eligibility requirements, you need to fill out the application for a permanent resident visa. It includes things like biographical information, data about your eligibility, a character section (discussing any criminal problems you may have had in the past), and any information on other family members included in the application that will live with you, such as a spouse or child.
The application is available online.
Pay the fee.
To complete the application, you’ll need to pay a fee. How much the fee is contingent both on the type of visa you’re applying for and the country you’re coming from. Therefore, you need to look it up to figure out what you need to pay.