Good character - residence

To apply for a resident or permanent resident visa, you must be of good character.

Applicants for all visas must be of good character, not pose a security risk and not threaten New Zealand’s international reputation.

People with serious character issues can’t be granted any visa or entry permission, except in very special circumstances.

People with other character issues must have the good character requirement waived before they can be granted residence.

Serious character issues

You can't be granted a visa if you:

  • have ever been convicted of an offence for which you were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 5 years or more
  • have been convicted in the last 10 years of an offence for which you were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or longer
  • are prohibited from entering New Zealand
  • have ever been removed, excluded or deported from any country.

You will also not be granted a visa if we have reason to believe you:

  • are likely to commit an offence in New Zealand that is punishable by imprisonment
  • are likely to be a risk to security
  • are likely to be a threat to public order
  • are likely to be a risk to the public interest.

If you have a serious character issue, you are normally ineligible to be granted a visa unless we grant you a special direction.

Character issues that require a character waiver

You will also not meet our character requirements for residence if you:

  • have ever made or provided false or misleading information, or withheld material information when applying for a New Zealand visa, or when supporting another person’s New Zealand visa application
  • have ever been convicted of an offence against immigration, citizenship or passport laws in any country
  • have ever been convicted of an offence involving:
    • violence
    • prohibited drugs
    • dishonesty
  • have ever been convicted of an offence of a sexual nature
  • have ever been convicted of an offence for which you were sentenced to a term of imprisonment
  • have, while holding a temporary New Zealand visa, or while unlawfully in New Zealand, been convicted of an offence in any country for which the court had the power to imprison you for three months or longer.
  • have been convicted in the last five years of an offence involving:
    • dangerous driving
    • drunk driving
    • driving after consuming drugs
  • have ever publically made a racist statement
  • have ever been a member of a racist group.

If your character may prevent us from granting you a visa, you should provide a full explanation about the character issue, with supporting evidence when you apply.

We will use we this information to consider waiving the character requirement or granting a special direction for very serious character issues.

Character issues that will delay your residence application

Your application for residence will be deferred if:

  • You are under investigation, wanted for questioning, or have been charged with an offence which, if you are convicted would be considered a serious character issue or would require you to be granted a character waiver, as described above
  • There is an active arrest warrant for you in any country
  • Your residence application is based on a relationship to a person whose own New Zealand residence status is under investigation.

In these circumstances we will defer the residence application for 6 months to allow the potential issue to be resolved. Further deferrals may be made if needed.

For detailed information about Immigration New Zealand character requirements see section A5 of our Operational Manual.

Immigration New Zealand Operational Manual A5