How we work

Immigration New Zealand is the operational processing arm of New Zealand’s immigration system. Our ambition is to provide a trusted, world class immigration service for all our customers.

Immigration makes a vital contribution to New Zealand’s economy, workforce and community. It reunites friends and families, provides employers with access to key skills and capital, contributes to New Zealand’s international and humanitarian commitments, and supports the security and integrity of our border.

Since New Zealand’s border opened after COVID-19, interest in visiting and working here has rebounded significantly. 2023 was the first full year of the border being open since COVID-19 and the volume of work across the immigration system shows just how integral immigration is to New Zealand.

In the 2023 calendar year:

  • more than one million visas were decided.
  • there was unprecedented demand from people wanting to visit New Zealand, with the record of applications submitted being broken on a number of months and more than 505,000 Visitor Visa applications decided.
  • more than 1.5 million NZeTA requests were decided.
  • 46,500 Working Holiday applications were decided.
  • nearly 83,000 Accredited Employers work visa (AEWV) applications were decided and around 15,700 employers became accredited under the AEWV policy.
  • more than 85,000 student visas were decided.
  • 1,507 refugees were able to call New Zealand home through New Zealand’s Refugee Quota Programme.
  • there were 10 successful immigration related convictions in 2023.
  • 529 investigations into immigration breaches were carried out, including 239 cases with allegations of migrant exploitation that were investigated.

Who we are

The primary role of the New Zealand immigration system is to facilitate the travel of visitors, students, workers, families and refugees to New Zealand, and protect New Zealand from immigration risk.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is the operational processing arm of New Zealand’s immigration system and has four core roles:

  • We grant visas to people who New Zealand needs to work, visit, study, or settle here.
  • We ensure that people crossing the border and staying in New Zealand are entitled to do so.
  • We help migrants and refugees to make New Zealand their home.
  • We play our part in the global immigration system, together with our border partners to keep New Zealand safe.

INZ sits within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and is just one part of the wider immigration system. The immigration system also includes MBIE’s compliance centre of expertise (Te Whakatairanga Service Delivery) who carry out onshore investigation and compliance activity, provide services to license people who provide New Zealand immigration advice, and provide customer support through MBIE’s Customer Service Centre.

The immigration system works within the policy framework set by the Immigration Act 2009, associated regulations and immigration instructions authorised under the Act. MBIE’s immigration policy function supports Ministers to make changes to immigration policy settings through Cabinet or Parliament.

INZ works closely with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, other border agencies, and our international partners, in particular other Migration 5 countries (Australia, Canada, United States and the United Kingdom).  This allows us to identify risk, improving the integrity of the immigration system.

International cooperation

Our ambition

INZ’s ambition is to provide a trusted, world class immigration service for all our customers.

We aim to strike the balance between facilitating the entry of the people New Zealand needs to work, visit, live or study here and protecting New Zealand from immigration risk.

INZ is committed to being a customer-centric organisation that is simple to engage with, helps to keep our customers safe and provides certainty for them. 

We want to ensure our customers know what the visa process means for them and make it easy to apply for a visa and comply with their visa obligations.

We want to make sure our customers know when they can expect a decision on their application. We also want customers to know what New Zealand offers them so they can thrive while they’re here.  

What our customers can expect

INZ has worked to better understand what customers need so we can improve our online forms and information. We are continuing to improve our online platform and move more visa categories online. This will allow customers to track their application’s progress in real time.

INZ receives high volumes of visa applications. All applications are assessed against the relevant immigration requirements in a fair and transparent way. 

The time it takes to decide an application may vary depending on the type of application, the applicant’s circumstances and whether the application has all the necessary information and documents.

Processing visa applications often takes longer when applicants have not submitted all the required information in their application or during visa peak periods.

In order to reduce delays, we ask all visa applicants or their licensed immigration advisers and representatives to:

  • understand fully the visa criteria or seek further advice from a licensed immigration adviser or lawyer if it is not clear, before submitting a visa application.
  • submit all the required application documentation and evidence in full when applying.
  • be aware of the processing times for the visa and allow plenty of time for the application to be processed.
  • to be sure, don’t plan, book or confirm any immediate non-refundable or non-changeable arrangements in New Zealand until the outcome of the visa is confirmed.

INZ has information on processing timeframes for each visa category. As these timeframes can change, usually due to high demand in peak periods, we ask customers to plan accordingly and make sure they are applying in plenty of time.

How long it takes to process an application