Permanent Resident Visa

What is a Permanent Resident Visa?

This visa allows you to stay in New Zealand indefinitely and use the resident’s status to its full potential.

The ultimate goal of many, a New Zealand Permanent Resident Visa may be available after showing commitment to the country and staying on the right side of the law. In some cases, however, the road to Permanent Residence may be shorter. Below you will find the answers to the most common questions asked about Permanent Resident Visas.

While you are onshore, you may enjoy all the perks of residence, such as unlimited stay in New Zealand, domestic fees at educational institutions, full subsidized access to healthcare, priority when applying for a job, and some more, it is with a Permanent Resident Visa that you will feel the utmost freedom you can avail yourself of.

What is the difference between a resident visa and a permanent resident visa?

Resident VisaPermanent Resident Visa
Allows the holder to take unlimited trips to New Zealand, but only before the expiry of the travel conditions;Allows the holder to take unlimited trips to New Zealand at any time;
Allows the holder to stay in New Zealand indefinitely, if entry permission is granted to the holder.Allows the holder to stay in New Zealand indefinitely.
First entry travel conditions:If the visa is granted outside New Zealand, the date by which the holder must enter the country will be displayed on the visa. This date cannot be varied anyhow, and should the date be missed, the resident visa will expire and that person will have to apply for residence again.

Holders of both types of visa must see to it that their passport is still valid. Before the expiry of the passport, both visas can be transferred to a new one.

Travel conditions of resident visas

Resident visas, unlike their permanent variation, come with a few conditions which are to be met for the holders to continue enjoying the benefits of unlimited rights to stay together with absolute freedom when travelling.

First entry travel conditions:If the visa is granted outside New Zealand, the date by which the holder must enter the country will be displayed on the visa. This date cannot be varied anyhow, and should the date be missed, the resident visa will expire and that person will have to apply for residence again.
Multiple entry travel conditions:These are constraints which will be valid for a certain amount of time since the first day the holder spent in New Zealand as a resident. This will either be the day of their first entry in New Zealand if the visa was granted offshore, or the day the resident visa was granted whilst they were in Aotearoa. The end of the travel constraints will be indicated on the visa as the “Expiry date travel”

When will my resident visa expire?

A resident visa will expire if the holder is overseas and the travel restrictions are past their expiry date. The expiry date will depend on when the holder left New Zealand, and may either be

  • the date of leaving New Zealand with already expired travel conditions, or
  • the next day after the expiry of the travel conditions on the visa

When will the principal and non-principal applicants be eligible to have a permanent resident visa?

  • A general rule here is that the principal applicant must have been granted a PR visa or a variation of travel conditions before a non-principal one. 
  • Non-principal applicant can be granted a second or subsequent resident visa regardless of whether the principal applicant has been granted one, although the principal applicant must qualify for a second or subsequent resident visa at the time the non-principal one applies.
  • Some exceptions to the general rule are
    • Passing away of the principal applicant
    • Breakup of the relationship, formal or informal, between the principal and the non-principal applicants 
    • Citizenship of New Zealand granted to the principal applicant
    • Approval of the original residence application before 30 October 1995.

Will I still need any further visas after my residence is granted?

The answer is – you may, in certain cases. For example, if

  • You want the right to enter New Zealand as a resident indefinitely, you can apply for a permanent resident visa (PRV);
  • You want to temporarily leave New Zealand, but are not eligible for a PRV, you can apply for further travel conditions to enable you to return to the country;
  • You previously held a visa which has expired, you can apply for a second or subsequent resident visa (SSRV). This new type of application may allow your residence status to be reinstated.

When preparing your PRV application, by ticking an appropriate box you may authorise INZ to check your eligibility for a SSRV if you do not qualify for a PRV

Here is a flowchart where you can, at your convenience, check what visa you may get.

How do you qualify for a PRV?

You will need to show your commitment to New Zealand through one or more ways defined by law, and namely

Hold a resident visa (or have held one in the last three months)
Hold (or have held) that resident visa continuously for at least 2 years
Have met any conditions their visa may have been subject to under section 49(1) of the Immigration Act 2009
Demonstrate their commitment to New Zealand by meeting one of the five options: 1. Spend enough time in New Zealand (at least 184 days in each of the 12-month portions of the 24 months immediately before applying for a PRV).

2. Have a tax residence status in New Zealand. This will be assessed by Inland Revenue Department and, if this status is confirmed, the applicant will have to have spent at least 41 days in New Zealand in each of the 12-month periods right before the 24 months immediately preceding their application for a Permanent Resident Visa.

3. Retaining an acceptable investment in New Zealand. Apart from meeting the Investor Category where all the conditions are met, there is another option of being on any other resident visa and having maintained an investment of at least NZ$1 million that has met the applicable rules for at least 24 months since the grant of the RV.

4. Establishment of a business in New Zealand. This condition is also applicable to holders of any type of resident visa who have established, purchased, or invested in at least 25% of the shareholding of an established business, and their business has been successfully trading or benefitting New Zealand in some other way for at least 12 months before lodging an application for a PRV.

5. Base established in New Zealand. To demonstrate a base has been established in the country, a principal applicant must provide proof
– that each member of their immediate family included in the RV application has resided in New Zealand for at least 184 days in the 2-year period straight before the PRV application, and
– that the principal applicant has been in New Zealand as a resident in at least 41 days in the 12 months before applying for a PRV, and either owned and maintained a family home in New Zealand, or have held a full-time continuous genuine employment in New Zealand immediately before the lodgement of the PRV application.

What can you get before and after your PRV expires?

Before the expiry of RVAfter the expiry of RV
Before your resident visa expires, or within 3 months of its expiry, you have an option of obtaining a PRV (if eligible), ora Variation of Travel Conditions (VOTC), extending the date of your travel restrictions.If you are outside New Zealand and your travel conditions have expired, you need to apply for a Second or Subsequent Resident Visa (SSRV), which will allow you to return to the country in your resident status. 

How long may a VOTC extend my right to return to New Zealand as a resident?

A VOTC of a valid Resident Visa (either in New Zealand or overseas with unexpired travel conditions) may be valid for 

  • 12 months – if the principal applicant has met the time (at least 184 days spent in at least one of the two 12-month portion of the 2 years immediately prior to applying for a VOTC) or tax residence requirement (as in PR requirements above, except the tax resident status will have been kept for 12 months);
  • 14 days – if the principal applicant is in New Zealand and does not meet the prerequisites for a PR or a 12-month VOTC;
  • 24 months – is only available to 
    • Australian citizens and residents,
    • Partners of New Zealand citizens
    • Resident visa holders seconded overseas as part of their employment in New Zealand

who do not qualify for a PR.

Second or Subsequent Resident Visa (SSRV) – who is eligible?

An SSRV may be available to those as follows:

Principal applicantswho would have met the criteria to be granted a VOTC if they had applied for it on the date the current applicant’s resident visa expired and those travel conditions would still be valid when the application for a SSRV was made; or 

who would have met the criteria to be granted a permanent resident visa had they applied for it on the date when the applicant’s RV expired and that date was less than 24 months before a SSRV was applied for; or

who meets the criteria for one of the special provisions for a SSRV (partners of New Zealand citizens and their dependent children; former holders of RVs seconded overseas, etc.)
Non-principal applicants would normally be eligible for a SSRV, as well as PR and VOTC, once the principal applicant becomes entitled to these. 
Some exceptions are
The principal applicant has deceased

The principal applicant has become a New Zealand citizen

The principal and the non-principal applicant have separated or divorced


The original residence application was approved before 30 October 1995.

Can I jump the queue and get a PRV straight away, without first getting a RV?

This may be the case, albeit in very specific situations, for example:

  • if your partner is a New Zealand citizen and both of you have been living overseas for at least 5 years, you may be eligible for a permanent resident visa;
  • if you met all the conditions of a Talent (Accredited Employer) Work to Residence Visa and applied for it before 7 October 2019;
  • if your application for a residence class visa is by a quota refugee, asylum seeker or protected person.

If you obtained your Resident Visa as a non-principal applicant and require guidance, our immigration consultant will gladly assist you in finding you own, bespoke solution. Book your 100% free 30-minute consultation with us today.