Good character for temporary visas

To get a work, student or visitor visa you must be of good character. If you have a criminal history, have provided false or misleading information in a previous visa application, or could be a risk to New Zealand, we can decline your application.

Being of good character

Applicants for all visas must meet good character requirements. 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
  • removed or deported from another country.

Issues preventing us giving you a visa

We will decline your application for a visa 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 we decline your visa application

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 were imprisoned, or could have been sentenced to 3 months or more in prison
  • been charged or are under investigation for serious criminal offending
  • provided false or misleading information or withheld relevant information in a previous New Zealand visa application, either personally or through an agent
  • provided false or misleading information about someone else's New Zealand visa application.

If any of these apply to you, we can consider granting you a character waiver. This will depend on your circumstances, the charge or conviction, or the significance of any false, misleading or withheld information.

We will also consider your involvement and intentions in providing the information (if applicable), and your reason for travelling to or staying in New Zealand.

False, misleading or withheld information in visa applications

What to explain when you apply for a visa

When you apply for a visa, 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.