Religious Worker Work Visa

You can apply for this visa if you have an offer of religious work from a religious organisation. This visa can lead to residence after 3 years of consecutive work in your field.

Length of stay
Up to

2 years

NZD $700
Processing time
80% within
6 weeks
With this visa you can
  • Do religious work in New Zealand.
  • Study for up to 3 months in any 12-month period.
Things to note
  • You can’t include a partner or dependent children in your visa application, but they can apply for visas based on their relationship to you.
    Explore family visa options
  • Dependent children are eligible for visas if you will be earning at least NZ$43,322.76 a year, or the religious organisation sponsoring you agrees to sponsor your children too.

What you need to apply

Check if you are eligible to apply for this visa and what supporting documents and information you need to provide.

View All Evidence
  • 1 acceptable photo if you apply online, or 2 photos if you use a paper application form.
  • your passport or certificate of identity.

Acceptable photos

If you apply online, you must upload a copy of your passport when you apply. We will let you know if you need to send your passport after you have applied.

Providing your passport for online applications

If you submit a paper application, provide your original passport or a certified copy.  We can usually process your application faster if you provide your original passport.


Also provide a copy of your Identity card.

Also provide your:

  • Hukou (household registration book)
  • Chinese identity card.

If you are a citizen of China and you submit a paper application form in China, you must also complete a supplementary form.

Supplementary form for Chinese citizens (INZ 1027) PDF 338KB

If you are submitting a paper application form, you must provide a supplementary form for Hong Kong and Macao visitors, workers and students.

Supplementary form for Hong Kong and Macao visitors, workers and students (INZ 1220) PDF 240KB

You must have a chest x-ray and a medical examination as proof of your good health.

Getting an x-ray or medical examination


You must provide a chest x-ray completed in the last 3 months, even if you've provided one to us previously, if:

  • you have spent 6 consecutive months in China since the last x-ray certificate was issued, and
  • you are now coming to NZ for more than 6 months.

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

  • your country of citizenship
  • any country you have lived in for 5 years or more since you turned 17 years old.

Good character

How to get a police certificate


Police certificates must be less than 6 months old at the time 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.

When we decide if your intentions are genuine, we consider all the information:

  • you provide to support your application
  • we have about your personal circumstances, and
  • you provided in any previous applications.

Genuine intentions to visit, study or work in NZ

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.

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, including having the ability to provide you with accommodation, financial support and help to return home, 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.

Your sponsor must complete a 'Sponsorship Form for Religious Workers', as evidence of your sponsorship.

We won’t normally grant a visa if your sponsor is included on the list of non-compliant employers maintained by the Labour Inspectorate.

What sponsors must do – responsibilities and obligations

Charities Services

Sponsorship Form for Religious Workers (INZ1190) PDF 300KB

List of non-compliant employers


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

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 work visa applications.

If you’re applying for another Religious Worker Work Visa, your job offer must be for:

  • religious work that continues on from your previous religious work
  • the same religious organisation that sponsored your first visa.

If you’re applying for a subsequent Religious Worker Work Visa you must meet all of the other requirements for this visa, and:

  • hold a current Religious Worker Work Visa
  • be in New Zealand
  • have been working to advance your sponsor’s religious objectives.

Evidence may include:

  • letters from your sponsor
  • pay slips
  • tax records from New Zealand Inland Revenue.

Inland Revenue


If you’ve already held a Religious Worker Work Visa for 4 years or more, you won’t be eligible for another one, but you may be eligible for a Religious Worker Resident Visa. You’ll need to be 55 or under to apply.

Process and costs

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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How to submit

Payment methods and receiving centre details if applicable.


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

Entry permission

You must apply for entry permission when you arrive in New Zealand. You can do this by completing a digital New Zealand traveller declaration (NZTD), or an NZTD paper declaration.

New Zealand Customs and Biosecurity also check that you meet their entry requirements.

Arriving in New Zealand


You can be refused entry permission if:

  • you don’t meet our character requirements
  • your circumstances have changed since you were granted a visa
  • you refuse to let us to take your photo, or provide us with your fingerprints or an iris scan, if we ask you for them.


You must have an acceptable sponsor.

Acceptable sponsors


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

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


You can only do the specific religious work, for the specific sponsoring religious organisation, in the specific location detailed in the employment agreement or job description that was the basis for us to grant your visa.


You can stay in New Zealand for up to 2 years.


You may be able to stay in New Zealand for longer, if you apply for:

  • another Religious Workers visa, which will allow to you to stay in New Zealand for up to 4 years in total
  • a Religious Worker Residence from Work visa after you’ve been doing religious work in New Zealand for 3 years on Religious Workers visa.


You can study for up to 3 months in any 12-month period.


After your first arrival, you can travel in and out of New Zealand for 2 years.

Visa expiry

You must leave New Zealand before your visa expires.


Visa expiry dates are printed on a visa label or included in a visa letter.