Good character for temporary visas

To get a work, student or visitor visa you must be able to show you are of good character. If you have a criminal history or could be a risk to NZ we can decline your application.

Being of good character

Applicants for all visas must be able to show they are of good character. When you apply you must tell us about current issues or activities in your past that may affect how we assess your character when we process your visa application.

Depending on the issue we can:

We may approve a character waiver if your issue is minor. If a waiver is approved, it means we can still grant you a visa if your application meets all our other requirements.

Issues you must tell us about

You must tell us if you have been:

  • involved in criminal activities
  • involved in human rights abuse activities, or
  • if you have ever been removed or deported from another country.

Issues preventing us giving you a visa

We will decline your application for a visa (unless a special direction is given) if you have been:

  • convicted of an offence and were sentenced to a prison term of 5 years or more
  • convicted in the last 10 years of an offence and were sentenced to a term in prison of 12 months or longer
  • prohibited from entering New Zealand, or
  • removed, excluded or deported from any country, including New Zealand.

We may not grant you a visa if we have reason to believe you may be:

  • intending to commit an offence in New Zealand you could be sent to prison for
  • a risk to our security
  • a threat to public order
  • a risk to the public interest.

If any of the above apply to you and you still want to come to New Zealand, you may ask for a special direction. We can grant a visa through a special direction in exceptional circumstances.

Other issues which fail our 'good character' test

You will not normally be granted a temporary visa if you have:

  • been convicted at any time for an offence:
    • for which you have been imprisoned, or
    • for which you could have been sentenced to 3 months or longer in prison
  • been charged or are under investigation for serious criminal offending
  • provided us with misleading information about your own, or anyone else’s application.

If any of these apply to you, we can consider granting you a character waiver. This will depend on your circumstances, the significance of any false or misleading information provided, and your reason for travelling to or staying in New Zealand.

What to explain when you apply

When you apply, provide:

  • a full explanation of any character issues, and
  • reasons why you would like a special direction or a character waiver.

If we need more information we will contact you.