Immigration instructions

Immigration instructions set out the rules and criteria that people who want to come to New Zealand must meet to be granted a visa or entry permission.

 We use immigration instructions to make decisions about visa applications.

The immigration instructions are contained in the Operational Manual, and include information about:

  • the rules and criteria that people must meet to be granted a visa
  • the evidence that people must provide to show they meet the criteria
  • the processes we follow to assess and verify visa applications.

The Minister of Immigration certifies all immigration instructions.

Read the Operational Manual online

Read the previous Manual (effective to 29 November 2010)


The Manual is also available to view and download in sections:

Administration PDF 1MB

Temporary Entry - Part one PDF 3MB

Temporary entry - Part two PDF 737KB

Border Entry PDF 408KB

Compliance PDF 729KB

Residence - Part one PDF 2MB

Residence - Part two PDF 2MB

Refugees and protection PDF 446KB

Transit Visas PDF 243KB

Appendices PDF 2MB

Changes to immigration instructions

We update immigration instructions regularly to reflect changes in government policy. The Minister of Immigration certifies all changes.

We include changes to instructions in the Amendment Circulars. These describe changes to the Operational Manual the Minister of Immigration has certified.

More information about our decision-making is available in:

  • Internal Administration Circulars, which describe changes to the procedures and processes that INZ staff follow
  • Advice to staff, which contain information about how to interpret instructions in the Operational Manual, and how to make correct and fair decisions.

Apply to receive notifications of changes

You can subscribe to receive changes to immigration instructions (Amendment Circulars) and updates on office processes (Internal Administration Circulars) by email. Include the name and address you want us to send the information to.

Subscribe to receive Amendment Circulars

Subscribe to receive Internal Administration Circulars