Information about Religious Worker Resident Visa

If you want to live in New Zealand permanently and you’re already in New Zealand on a valid Religious Worker Work Visa you may be able to apply for residence. You’ll need to have an offer of continuing work and sponsorship from the religious organisation that’s sponsoring you now, and 5 years’ religious work experience and/or training.

Overview

Overview

Length of stay

Indefinitely

Age range

55 years and under


You can

  • Work, live and study in New Zealand.
  • Continue to do religious work for the religious organisation that’s sponsoring you.
  • Include your partner, and dependent children aged 24 and under, in your visa application - if you meet the minimum income requirements, or your religious organisation agrees to sponsor them too.

Things to note

  • You can only apply for this visa if you’ve already held a valid Religious Worker Work Visa for 3 years or more.
  • If you include your partner and children in your visa application, they’ll need to meet the same identity, health, character and English language requirements as you.
Criteria

Meeting the criteria

The criteria and evidence below will provide you with the information you need to meet the requirements.

Use the filters to display country specific tips, under evidence, to assist you with your application

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Character

You must be of good character

If you are 17 or over, you must provide a police certificate from:

  • your country of citizenship
  • any other country where you have spent 12 months or more over the last 10 years, even if you did not spend that 12 months all in one visit.

Good character

How to get a police certificate

Police Certificates must be less than 6 months old when you apply.

If you provide a police certificate that is not in English, you must provide an English translation.

This includes police certificates that record no convictions.

Current work visa

You must have held a Religious Worker Work Visa for at least 3 years

We’ll check our records and your passport for evidence:

  • that you have a current Religious Worker Work Visa
  • of when you first arrived in New Zealand on your Religious Worker Work Visa.

To be eligible for residence, you must’ve met the conditions of your Religious Worker Work Visa.

Sponsorship

You must have an acceptable sponsor

You must be sponsored by a religious organisation:

  • that’s registered as a charity with Charities Services
  • that can meet the requirements for acceptable sponsors for a period of 5 years after your resident visa is granted, including having the ability to provide you with accommodation and financial support if you need it
  • that’s main purpose is to advance religion
  • that has a genuine need for you to do religious work for them.

As evidence of your sponsorship, you must provide:

  • a 'Sponsorship Form for Religious Workers' completed by your sponsor
  • a written statement from your sponsor explaining how your religious work will continue to serve their religious aims.

Acceptable sponsors
Charities Services
Sponsorship Form for Religious Workers (INZ1190)
PDF 300KB

You can’t be an ‘officer’ or a ‘nominated person’ of your sponsoring organisation.

Religious work

You must have an offer of ongoing religious work from your sponsor

The work you’ve been offered must be in substantially one or more of the following religious activities:

  • teaching religious scripture or philosophy
  • leading religious ceremonies, worship or prayer
  • ordaining new religious leaders, initiating new members into your religious community, carrying out religious ceremonies
  • providing spiritual guidance and care.

If the work you’ve been offered is paid salary or wages, you must provide a copy of an employment agreement.

If the work you’ve been offered is paid by any means other than salary or wages or is unpaid, then you must provide a description of that work.

We don’t consider religious study to be religious work when we assess resident visa applications.

Age

You must be 55 or under

We’ll use the documents you provide as proof of your identity to confirm your age.

English language

You must be able to speak English

Evidence can include proof you:

  • have an acceptable English language test result
  • have an English-speaking background
  • are competent speakers of English for other reasons.

English language test results for residence from work

English language test results must be no more than 2 years old.

If your partner and dependent children 16 and over do not speak English, they can learn in New Zealand. You will have to pay us for English language classes before we can grant you a visa.

Learning English in New Zealand after you come to New Zealand

Religious training and experience

You must have at least 5 years’ religious training and/or work experience

Evidence may include:

  • testimonials from people in your religious community
  • documents that show you’ve been ordained
  • your curriculum vitae or résumé
  • documents that show you’ve got experience doing religious work that’s relevant to your religious work in New Zealand
  • certified copies of any qualifications that are relevant to the your religious work in New Zealand.

No welfare assistance

You must not have received any welfare benefits or assistance

If you or anyone included in your residence application, have received any welfare benefits or assistance since you were granted a Religious Worker Work Visa, you won’t be eligible to apply for residence.

When you complete your residence application, we’ll ask for your authority to contact Work and Income to check if you’ve received any welfare benefits or assistance.
Work and Income

Location

To apply for residence, you must be in New Zealand

We’ll check our records to confirm your location.

Bring family

Your family must meet the requirements for a resident visa

To include your partner and dependent children in your residence application, you must provide evidence:

  • of your relationship with your partner and dependent children, like birth and marriage certificates
  • that your partner and dependent children meet the identity, health, character and English language requirements for this visa.

Partnership
Dependent children
English language test results for residence from work

Your relationship with your partner

You and your partner must have been living together in a genuine and stable relationship for 12 months or more

You must provide evidence that you and your partner are living together in a genuine and stable relationship.

Your evidence should show:

  • how long you’ve been together
  • how long you’ve been living together
  • that you share finances and other responsibilities
  • that you spend time together, eg photos together, emails and social media conversations between you
  • that other people recognise your relationship
  • anything else you think shows you and your partner are living together in a genuine and stable relationship.

Partnership

Dependent children

Your children must be single and 24 or under

For us to consider your children dependent, they must be single and either:

  • 17 or under
  • 18-24 with no children of their own.

We’ll ask you to sign a declaration that your children are single when you complete your residence application.

We’ll use the documents you provide as proof of your children’s identity to confirm their age.

Dependent children

Children living with a partner are not considered to be single, even if they’ve been living with their partner for less than a year.

Partnership

Children aged 21-24 are only considered dependent if they rely on an adult for financial support.

Dependent children aged 21 - 24

Children aged 21-24 must rely on an adult for financial support

When we assess if your children need financial support, we’ll look at whether they:

  • are working, if the work full-time or part-time, and how long they’ve been working
  • are able to support themselves
  • live with a family member and how much support is provided 
  • are studying and if they study full-time or part-time.

We may ask for evidence that your children are financially dependent.

Children aged 21-24 are only considered dependent if they rely on an adult for financial support.

Your relationship with your children

You must be the parent or legal guardian of your dependent children

You must provide evidence that confirms your relationship to your children, which  may include:

  • full birth certificates 
  • adoption papers, or if the adoption was customary, a written declaration stating you’ve adopted the children and the date and country the adoption took place
  • any other documents that confirm your relationship to each other.

If you’re a New Zealand resident and your dependent children were eligible to be included in your residence application, but weren’t included, we may ask you to explain the reason for this.

If your children joined your family through customary adoption, we may seek confirmation of the adoption from the children’s biological parents.

You can provide household registration documents if these confirm your relationship to your child.

Custody of children 15 and under

You must have the legal right to remove dependent children from their home country

If you’re separated or divorced, you must provide legal documents that show that one of the following applies:

  • you have the sole right to decide where your children live
  • you have the right to remove your children from their home country
  • you have custody of the children and your children’s other parent agrees they can move to New Zealand if their application is approved.

If your children’s other parent has died, you must provide their death certificate.

If you have a statutory right to the custody of your children and it’s not possible to get legal documents to confirm this right, we will assess your right to remove the children on a case-by-case basis.

Process

Process

The information below will help you understand the process so you can plan ahead and have the best chance of submitting a complete application.

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Fees & receiving centre

Fees & receiving centre

The information below will help you understand the process, timeframes and costs involved in applying for this visa, so you can plan ahead and have the best chance of submitting a complete application.

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Conditions

Conditions

These are the conditions that you must meet once you have your visa.

Sponsorship

You must have an acceptable sponsor for a period of 5 years from your first day as a resident in New Zealand.

Acceptable sponsors

You must be sponsored by a religious organisation that’s:

  • registered as a charity
  • main purpose is to advance religion.

Travel

You can travel in and out of New Zealand as often as you like for a period of 5 years from your first day as a resident in New Zealand, which is when your travel conditions expire.
To travel after that, you’ll need to apply for and be granted either:

  • a Permanent Resident visa
  • a variation of your travel conditions, which would allow you to return to New Zealand at a later date.

For information about applying for a permanent resident visa or a variation of travel conditions, read:

Guide for Resident or Former Resident Visa Holders (INZ 1176)

Application from a Resident or Former Resident Visa Holder (INZ 1175)

If you’re outside of New Zealand when your travel conditions expire, your visa will expire as well.

Keep your visa in a valid passport

If you want to travel, your visa must be in a valid passport.

If your passport expires, you must apply to transfer your visa to a new passport before you can travel.

Transferring my visa to a new passport

To transfer your visa, you must:

  • send us your old and new passports
  • complete an ‘Application for Transfer or Confirmation of a Visa’
  • pay a transfer fee.

 

Application for Transfer or Confirmation of a Visa (INZ 1023)

Fees, decision times and where to apply

Work

For 5 years from your first day as a resident in New Zealand, you can only do the specific religious work, for the specific sponsoring religious organisation, in the specific location detailed in the employment agreement and/or job description that was the basis for us to grant your resident visa.

After that, you can work in any employment for any employer.

You can apply for a variation of conditions to allow you to do religious work for another religious organisation, if:

  • it’s a registered charity
  • its main purpose is advancing religion
  • it can offer ongoing religious work
  • it is an acceptable sponsor
  • it agrees to meet all its sponsorship obligations by completing a 'Sponsorship Form for Religious Workers'.

Acceptable sponsors

Sponsorship Form for Religious Workers INZ 1190

Study

You can study in New Zealand.

Employers

Employer obligations

New Zealand employers have certain obligations they must meet when employing a non New Zealand resident.

Key COVID-19 updates for Recognised Seasonal Employers (RSEs) in New Zealand

What an employer needs to do

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Sponsorship

You must sponsor your religious worker for a period of 5 years from the first day they’re granted residence

To sponsor a religious worker’s resident visa application, you must be a representative of a religious organisation:

  • that’s registered as a charity with Charities Services
  • that can meet the requirements for acceptable sponsors for a period of 5 years after your religious worker’s resident visa is granted, including providing them with accommodation and financial support if they need it
  • that’s main purpose is to advance religion
  • that has a genuine need for the sponsored religious worker to do religious work for them.

 

You must complete a Sponsorship Form for Religious Workers, as evidence of your sponsorship.

Acceptable sponsors

Charities Services website

Sponsorship Form for Religious Workers (INZ 1190) PDF 300KB

Job offer

You must provide religious work for at least 5 years

The work you offer can be paid or unpaid, but it must be mostly made up of one or more of the following religious activities:

  • teaching religious scripture or philosophy
  • leading religious ceremonies, worship or prayer
  • ordaining new religious leaders, initiating new members into your religious community, carrying out religious ceremonies
  • providing spiritual guidance and care.

 

If the work is paid employment for salary or wages, you must provide an employment agreement that complies with employment law.

Minimum employment rights

Your employment and/or job description should be included with your Sponsorship Form for Religious Workers.

If the work is unpaid or paid by other means, you must provide a job description.

Sponsorship Form for Religious Workers (INZ 1190) PDF 300KB