Sponsorship

New Zealand citizens and residents, and organisations like registered companies, incorporated societies and charitable trusts, and government agencies can sponsor visa applications. Sponsorship doesn’t guarantee that we’ll grant a visa – people who have sponsors still have to meet other visa requirements.

Acceptable sponsors

A sponsor can be any one of the following:

  • an individual New Zealand citizen
  • an individual New Zealand residence class visa holder – as long as their visa has no section 49 conditions
  • an organisation registered in New Zealand as a company, incorporated society or charitable trust
  • a government agency, including agents and entities like tertiary institutions and school boards of trustees.

Individuals

For us to consider an individual an acceptable sponsor, they must meet all of the following criteria:

  • live in New Zealand for the term of the sponsorship (unless an exception applies)
  • not be sponsoring for a financial reward or fee
  • never have been convicted of an offence under immigration law
  • not have an outstanding debt to the Crown or other third parties as a result of another sponsorship arrangement
  • not have previously breached sponsorship obligations
  • not have entered into insolvency procedures or be bankrupt
  • not be liable for deportation
  • not be serving a custodial sentence, eg prison or be waiting to be sentenced after being convicted of a crime that carries a custodial sentence.

The profit employers expect to make from an employee’s work doesn’t exclude them from being acceptable sponsors.

Extra criterion for sponsoring student visa applications

Individuals sponsoring a student must be a family member or friend of the student.

Students who are in New Zealand and who are applying for a further student visa as a fee paying tertiary student, can only be sponsored if their first student visa was sponsored. Sponsorship must be by the same person or organization that acted as the sponsor for the initial visa application.

Extra criteria for sponsoring resident visa applications

Individuals who wish to sponsor a resident visa, must also:

  • live in New Zealand
  • have been New Zealand citizen or resident for at least 3 years
  • have spent 184 days in New Zealand in each of the last 3 years.

If needed, we will use our records to confirm a sponsor’s time spent in New Zealand as a New Zealand citizen or resident.

Organisations

For us to consider a sponsoring organisation an acceptable sponsor, it must:

  • be registered in New Zealand as a company, incorporated society or charitable trust
  • show a clear link between its activities and the reason the sponsored person is coming to New Zealand
  • not be sponsoring for a financial reward or fee
  • never have been convicted of an offence under immigration law
  • not have any listed directors, trustees or management who have been convicted of an offence under immigration law
  • not have an outstanding debt to the Crown or other third parties as a result of another sponsorship arrangement
  • not have previously breached sponsorship obligations
  • not be in receivership or liquidation
  • authorise a contact person to represent them who will be responsible for the sponsorship undertakings.

Evidence of acceptable sponsorship

Before we accept a sponsorship arrangement we need evidence that sponsors can meet their responsibilities and obligations. Sponsors needs to show us:

  • for individuals, that they’re a New Zealand citizen or resident
  • for organisations, that they’re a registered company, incorporated society, or charitable trust
  • they have enough money to cover the living costs of the person or people they’re sponsoring, like food and healthcare
  • they have either enough money to pay for accommodation, or can provide accommodation directly – we’ll need evidence that the sponsor owns, or has a rental agreement for the property where the sponsored person will stay while in New Zealand, unless the sponsored person is paying for their own accommodation
  • they have enough money to pay for the sponsored person or people’s return travel home, unless they’re providing their own funds
  • for sponsors who wish to guarantee the costs of maternity health services in New Zealand for a pregnant woman, that they have at least NZ$9,000 available to cover these costs.

Sponsorship responsibilities (undertakings)

Sponsors must agree to:

  • make sure the sponsored person has the things necessary for their health and welfare while in New Zealand, like food, clothing and health care
  • make sure the sponsored person has somewhere suitable to stay while in New Zealand, whether the sponsor provides it directly, or pays for it
  • pay the cost of the sponsored person’s return travel to their home country, if the sponsored person doesn’t
  • if the sponsored person becomes liable for deportation, pay any costs associated with deportation, like for locating, detaining and sending the person home.

Sponsors can agree to sponsor a person’s partner and dependent children too. If they agree to do this, they’ll also be responsible for covering these same costs for the partner and dependent children of the sponsored person.

Even if the sponsored person has agreed to provide all or some of their own funds, the sponsor is still legally responsible for providing for them if needed. 

Sponsors can also choose to guarantee the costs of maternity health services in New Zealand if the sponsored person is pregnant and intending to give birth in New Zealand.

When sponsorship begins and ends

Sponsorship begins from the date the sponsored person arrives in New Zealand, or if they are already in New Zealand, the date their visa is granted.

It ends on whichever of the following dates happen first:

  • the date the sponsored person is granted a new visa (either with a new, or no sponsor)
  • the date the sponsored person leaves New Zealand.

Sponsors can’t withdraw their sponsorship. It continues even if the sponsored person stays in New Zealand unlawfully after their visa expires. Sponsors who sponsor multiple entry visa applications, are responsible for their sponsorship undertakings every time the sponsored person is in New Zealand on that visa.

When sponsors don’t meet their obligations

If sponsors don’t meet their sponsorship obligations, the person they’re sponsoring can be deported.

If sponsors leave their sponsorship obligations to be paid by a third party or the New Zealand government, their obligations will become a debt. If the debt remains unpaid, sponsors can be pursued for it in court, even if the person they’re sponsoring:

  • is no longer in New Zealand, or
  • is in New Zealand unlawfully, or
  • has a new visa.