One Couple’s Adventures with the New Zealand Immigration Service – Part 3

One thing that will get you a lot of points instantly is having a job in New Zealand. Of course most NZ employers naturally want a prospective employee to hang around for a while.  Funny I know, but that’s just how they are here.  That generally means that they want you to either have a Permanent Residence or Work Visa. Welcome to “Catch 22”.  How can you get a job if you don’t have a PR or Work Visa and how can you get a visa if you don’t have a job? Good questions.  You can send CV’s (resumes) to potential NZ employers and hope for the best.  It might work as the New Zealand economy is humming right along and the unemployment rate is at a 17 year low, but you never know and you could end up waiting for a long time.Many people come to New Zealand on vacation and end up “finding” a job.  It goes something like this…  “Wow honey; look at all of those sheep!  Say, what’s that shiny thing over there?  A job?  For me?  Well, certainly I’d like a job, thank you!  Honey, grab the kids, we’re staying!”

A U.S. Passport allows you to stay in New Zealand for up to 90 days and can be extended a while longer upon application with, you guessed it, the NZIS.  However you cannot tell the nice immigration man or woman at the New Zealand airport that you’ve come here looking for work.  Everyone knows it happens, but no one admits it.They won’t let you in if you confess to your real goal and you’ll have to   spend the night on one of those comfortable airport chairs waiting for a 13 hour flight back home!

Luckily the consulting firm we used also has an employment division that connects prospective emigrants with potential employers.  These employers are a little more receptive to hiring someone without a visa because of your association with the consulting company.  Consultant’s fees are not cheap so the employer figures you must be serious.  With that credibility Sandy found her current job and couldn’t be happier.  I’m happy too because when one party receives a Work Visa the spouse also receives one.  So I am free to work here as well and am doing so as a business consultant currently.  Mind you, you don’t have to have a job to meet the Permanent Residence Visa requirements, but if you do your application will be considered before those that don’t.

Keep in mind that not everyone needs a consultant.  If you have the time and patience, you can do everything on your own.  Being control freaks we wanted some feeling of control over something that was really out of our hands for the most part.  Plus we wanted a safety net and someone to ask lots of questions and they have certainly been a Godsend. A word to the wise though; at this time anyone can call themselves an “immigration consultant” or “employment agency”.  Thankfully regulation is in the works.  There are some horror stories about people being ripped off out there.  So be very careful if you decide to utilize a consultant.  Make sure they are legitimate, get references, etc.  Some are more expensive than others but like all things, you generally get what you pay for.

We originally arrived in New Zealand on Work Visas but just before we left the passmark came down to our number and we’ve been extended an invitation to apply for Permanent Residence.  Woo hoo!  We’ve supplied all of the required documentation along with a note from our parents.  Hopefully we’ll gain permanent residence in the near future.  If all goes well it will have been about one year since we started our “official paperwork” journey to gaining PR.

There are a lot of good resources about New Zealand on the web.  (Just type in New Zealand Immigration on Google or Yahoo and see how many pages pop up!) After taking a look at the NZIS website, you might want to look at Emigrate New Zealand.  It’s a site that specializes in NZ Immigration (surprise!) and has an excellent reader forum where we found some great information from others both in the U.S. and other places that were interested in moving here too.

We still read it and contribute regularly.  If you’re interested in finding out more about businesses ownership in New Zealand, have a look at this website:

That’s it for this instalment.  We’re slowly overcoming the challenges that the NZIS have put in front of us.  We’re not complaining…well maybe a little.  But we understand their need to protect this exceptional place and want to do our best as American ambassadors to assist.  I hope some of this information helps you with your quest to find out more about moving to Godzone (God’s Own as some appropriately call it here).  Apologies if this particular article was a bit “dry”.  In the beginning I think you need to know the ground rules before you can play the game.  Again, New Zealand is not for everyone but Sandy and I fell in love with it.  And that’s the other part of this story…our romance with a new country.

We’ve just purchased a home on the sunny shores of the Bay of Plenty.  It’s blessed with ocean views, a temperate climate and near a friendly, beautiful beach town filled with great restaurants and lots to do.  I’ll plan on telling you what it’s really like living here soon.  Also if you decided to move here I’ll try to cover what you should and shouldn’t plan on bringing and why.  If you can’t wait, bring your lawnmower and solid stick deodorant…I’ll tell you why later.  I’ll also do my best to give you an insider’s look at working here, shopping, playing and everything else that makes this place so special.  And who knows?  Maybe we’ll have that puppy soon…providing our cats approve!

Until then, cheerz!


Excerpted from “We Did It!, Part Deux: Moving To New Zealand” in Escape From America Magazine, Issue 62.