Immigration Process

A lot of folks ask what the emigration process was like for us. The following is a timeline of events, starting with our hiring of an immigration consultant, Immigration Law Advocates, in April 2005. While we’d heard it was fairly easy to go through the emigration channels oneself, we elected to go with a consultant due to each of our unique work experiences. Kathy, working part-time as an I.T. contractor for the last nine years, had a better, yet sketchy chance of meeting the requirements due to her part-time status, under the Skilled Migrant Category than Bruce did as a self-employed real estate developer.

  • April 15, 2005: Hire Immigration Law Advocates
  • April 15 – 25: Fill out Expression of Interest (EOI) forms. This is a 20-something page document asking questions related to Character, Health, Job History, Education History, Family History, and English Language Ability for both applicants.
  • May 3, 2005: EOI filed on-line with NZ Immigration Services (NZIS). Total points = 125. Total points needed to file = 100.
  • May 3 – May 9th: Various communication with our immigration consultant clarifying Kathy’s part-time status, type of contract work, positions held, etc. Upon review, points increased to 140.
  • May 23rd: Notified we were selected from the pool of applicants in the May 11th drawing and will be invited to apply for residency. NZIS begins preliminary checks and we await their ‘formal’ invitation to apply which will require us to provide documentation supporting all the claims we made about ourselves in the on-line EOI.
  • June 23rd: Receive formal Invitation to Apply for Residence from NZIS.
  • June 23rd – August 26th: Compile all documentation needed to send to NZIS:
  • Birth Certificates: Originals or certified copies
  • Passports: Originals
  • Proof of Marriage or DeFacto Relationship: New Zealand recognizes unmarried hetero- or homo-sexual partners who have been together for at least one year and can demonstrate they’ve been living together for such time.
  • Education Transcripts: Transcripts and original diplomas from each higher education institution.
  • Work History: Letters from each company employed with for last 20 years.
  • Medical & X-Ray Certificates: Lengthy medical document filled out by general practitioner along with full-size chest x-ray. (Note: the requirement for submitting the chest x-ray was changed by fall 2005; applicants only need to submit if there are any issues).
  • FBI Clearance Certificates
  • Passport Photos: Extra eight photos for each of us
  • Various application forms signed.
  • November 1: Invitation to Apply received by NZIS and assigned to case officer. Need to set up a 15 to 30 minute telephone interview as the last stage of the process. Case officer wants to assess our ability to relocate and settle.
  • November 11th: Telephone Interview with NZIS. Questions fielded:
  • Why NZ? Why now in our lives?
  • Why Christchurch?
  • What have we been doing so far for our job search?
  • What obstacles did we expect to encounter as new migrants with our job search?
  • What would be our job search plan once residency was granted?
  • What obstacles would we expect to encounter from employers?
  • Did we have any friends or family in NZ? If so, what type of support would we expect them to provide?
  • What did we know about the cost of living in NZ?
  • How will we plan to immerse ourselves into the culture?
  • Had we ever made big moves like this before?

Our case officer was very friendly and pleasant and quite professional. At the end of the conversation, she said she saw no reason not to grant us residency. However, there were two types: One gives permanent residency which is basically a 2-year permit to live and work in the country; the other grants residency with the stipulation that the applicant must gain employment within a specified time frame. We were really hoping for the former given our plans for pursuing non-traditional work and for doing a bit of traveling in the year.

  • November 24th: Informed we’ve been granted permanent residency – just in time for Thanksgiving. We feel blessed!
  • December 8th: Receive formal letter from NZIS granting permanent residency and returning our passports with our visas pasted inside! Bust out the champagne!

All in all, the process was fairly painless and we were very happy with our decision to hire an immigration consultant.

Shortly after being awarded our permanent residency, NZIS modified the point system required for submitting an Expression of Interest, raising it from 100 points to 140 points in order to curtail the tremendous amount of emigration requests flooding into the country . This definitely makes it harder for those who do not have long work histories or higher ed degrees and will almost always require that a person already has a job offer before submitting their EOI.