What is the difference between Resident Visa and Permanent Resident Visa?6 Feb 2024

Great news that Immigration New Zealand has recently enabled the online processing of Permanent Resident Visas which should make this application process more efficient, and result in faster outcomes!

There is often confusion between a Resident Visa (RV) and a Permanent Resident Visa (PRV). Both visas have the exact same benefits as far as what the holder is entitled to in New Zealand – e.g., to live, work, study, undertake business, vote etc.

However, there is one major difference between these two resident visa types, and that is the travel conditions which allow re-entry to New Zealand as a resident should the visa holder leave New Zealand.

Resident Visas are normally issued with travel conditions which expire after 2 years. If the Resident Visa holder leaves New Zealand, and the travel conditions have expired before they re-enter New Zealand, then they lose their New Zealand residence status. In some situations, it is possible to recover the residence, but this depends on when the holder left New Zealand, when the travel conditions expired, and when action is taken to remedy the situation (time being of the essence).

It is possible to extend the travel conditions, and this should be done before leaving New Zealand if the travel conditions will expire while the holder is outside New Zealand. This application is called a Variation of Travel Conditions (VOTC).

Permanent Resident Visas do not have any travel conditions and have no expiry date.

Resident Visa holders can apply for a Permanent Resident Visa only after they have held their Resident Visa for 2 years (i.e., or 2 years from the date of first arrival in New Zealand as a resident). Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for their PRV as soon as they become eligible by demonstrating they satisfy one of the following criteria:

• Significant period of time spent in New Zealand (spending 184 days in New Zealand in each of the two consecutive 12-month periods immediately prior to making their PRV application)

Over 90% of applicants rely on this time-in-New Zealand requirement to obtain their PRV.

However, if this is not possible the following additional options are also available:
Tax residence status in New Zealand
Investment in New Zealand
• Establishment of a business in New Zealand
Base established in New Zealand

(Please appreciate these are just the headline requirements and there are detailed policy requirements in respect to each of these options).

Resident Visa holders can remain living in New Zealand indefinitely without extending their travel conditions or applying for the Permanent Resident Visa – however should they have to urgently leave New Zealand then they need either the VOTC or PRV to re-enter as a resident.

Applicants must maintain their good character and any convictions can adversely impact on their PRV application and professional advice is recommended for this situation. Some Resident Visas are also issued with additional conditions (called Section 49(1) conditions) and these conditions must be satisfied before being eligible to apply for a PRV.

Time in New Zealand holding both the Resident Visa and Permanent Resident Visa can count towards the 5 years for which a person must hold New Zealand residence in order to apply for New Zealand citizenship. The PRV can also be transferred to any new passport in the future.

If you are wanting to apply for a Permanent Resident Visa or a Variation of Travel Conditions, or just wanting more information about these visa types, then please talk to one of Pathways® 13 Licensed Immigration Advisers today.

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