How to get to the land down under the land down under.
May 30, 2008 1:19 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way for an American nuclear family (2 adults, kid) to emigrate to New Zealand with permanent residency?

We have SCOURED through tons of NZ emigration websites. We kinda know the ins and outs of the process, but want to know more than just THEORY.

My wife and I (along with the kid) are all us-born citizens. We're both college grads (one with advanced degree), make adequate money, have NEVER been in trouble with the law, and are in great health in our early 30s. We're thinking Auckland, but if it were non-Auckland vs. non-NZ, we would definitely move somewhere else (Christchurch, Wellington, etc).

We are waiting to finish up a few things in the states this summer (academics, legal stuff, etc), before we actually send in an "expression of interest". After this summer, we want to get to NZ asap. We want to move there, start jobs there, setup all aspects of our life there.

Anybody have any tips? Should we do something first, or not until we get there? Does anybody want to trade residency in NZ for ours in the US (haha...unless we can actually do that)? What helps, what is a detriment?

Any legitimate help would be appreciated. If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them asap. Please feel free to send me mefi mail as well if you don't want to post here.

My god, I love this site. Thanks mefites.
posted by hal_c_on to Travel & Transportation around New Zealand (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I would suggest that one of you gets a job offer to help with obtaining residency. This goes for any country, really - because it can help to cut down waiting time, bureaucracy, and burning through your savings when you arrive.

I haven't done the move to NZ but I have moved elsewhere and it makes it a lot easier.

Good luck! NZ is amazing, enjoy the land of the long white cloud :)
posted by wingless_angel at 1:48 AM on May 30, 2008

I'm a native New Zealander who has 'imported' a couple of people via employment at my (recently, as in I left last week!) former job.

I guess you're either looking at "Skilled Migrant" or "Word to Residency" options. I've only dealt with the latter, and it has been very easy in the IT industry.

It's not difficult to get residency if you have good skills, but finding a job with an accredited employer certainly helps to grease the wheels. Generally big IT companies and some others are 'accredited'. The company I worked for was basically able to send a letter stating "we need this person" that was included with their application. Each application I worked on just sailed straight through.

I have no experience of the "Skilled Migrant" option, but it sounds like you'd be able to apply for that too. I think it is a more fast-track route to full residency/citizenship, rather than a work permit followed by residency.

Happy to follow up via Mefi mail. I have a contact at my former employee who knows all this stuff.
posted by pivotal at 2:32 AM on May 30, 2008

gah "Work to residency" not Word.
posted by pivotal at 2:33 AM on May 30, 2008

You've almost certainly gone to this page, but just in case you haven't... this might be of some help.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:00 AM on May 30, 2008

I'm an American who has been living in London for about eleven years, and if you've never actually visited New Zealand I'd suggest that you do so before uprooting your lives totally.

While a short term holiday will never approximate the residency experience, I've seen people who have moved from New York to London unable to deal with some aspect of life in The New World (my friends back home hate it when I refer to Europe that way - heh) and return, sometimes just months later.

Many of the companies bringing folks over on ex-pat contracts are aware of this, and will actually have programmes in place to insure that recent transplants adapt well (I was brought over by Deutsche Bank, who did indeed have just such a programme). If you can get a job offer, they may help you from that point of view. If not, I'd suggest a holiday just to "try on" the New Zealand experience.

What's the cost of a short term holiday there vs. the (possibly much larger) cost of totally relocating, and possibly returning rather quickly?
posted by Mutant at 4:23 AM on May 30, 2008

NZ would have a skilled migration intake.

Why don't you call the immigration department and speak with someone.
posted by mattoxic at 4:45 AM on May 30, 2008

I've seen people who have moved from New York to London unable to deal with some aspect of life in The New World (my friends back home hate it when I refer to Europe that way - heh) and return, sometimes just months later.

I was told by a relocation specialist when I was living in London, that Americans moving to England were among her most frequent failures. The problem, as she saw it, was that her American clients expected England to be just like America - they speak English don't they? - and when they get in country they are frustrated by how different it actually is.

She said American families moving to Japan have a much higher success rate because they expect it to be different and frustrating.

Expect it to be difficult, different, and frustrating and you won't be disappointed.
posted by three blind mice at 7:00 AM on May 30, 2008

My younger Brother and Wife made the move to NZ ~8 years ago using the skilled worker program. Both qualified on points. They started their family there and we moved our retired parents to Auckland from the Southwest of the U.S. ~3 years ago. I think my Brother had an offer from a local University before they moved, but I could be mistaken. They are now NZ citizens.

I could go on for ages on the culture-shock thing. London is nothing like Auckland. Plus the OP didn't share where they are moving from in the US, whether they've already visited NZ or had experience living abroad. A move for a life long New Yorker to Auckland is going to be much more of a change than someone from, say Seattle.

For me, moving from Texas to Massachusetts was a bigger transition than from Boston to Zurich. Japan was easy, Australia is now (and will remain) home and my possible posting to China for a 2-4 year stint is just a career move. But, I'll second the observation that preconceptions and false assumptions can wreck the experience and success of any large move.
posted by michswiss at 7:21 AM on May 30, 2008

Oh, and Kia Ora!
posted by michswiss at 7:22 AM on May 30, 2008

I have had to fill out many a Visa for NZ and I would suggest that if you have a high enough score on the pre-submission EOI calculator, look for and get an offer of employment in New Zealand (preferably in an area of long-term skill shortage), and then apply for a work visa and permit (attempt to get a general work visa). A valid visa will be required during the residence process.

At this point you may either try New Zealand on for size for a couple months or immediately file an EOI as a Skilled Migrant. Don't play around with the answers on the EOI as they may bounce your application, which will make any future applications more difficult.

Provided your score is in the automatic draw range you should hear back from the Dept. of Immigration in two to three months whether your residence application process can begin. The residence process is a year-long process generally, with much interaction with the immigration department so I would personally not recommend filing the EOI until you are in country. Be organized and prepared with your information and you will be much more popular with the officials. Don't bother with the phone line for the most part as you will get different answers from different people. The decision largely comes down to the agent you deal with and a good relationship with the agent can make the process go very quickly.
posted by arruns at 1:55 PM on May 30, 2008

This is the blog of one of my colleagues who has moved his household here from Tennessee. He's a nice chap: maybe you should email him.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:05 PM on May 30, 2008

A lot of wisdom so far on this thread, particularly about "holiday time" vs. "day to day commute" time spent in another country. Mutant & Three Blind Mice are spot on, but I wanted to add my expat experience 2p.

Since you're reaching a point where some of the loose ends of your life are neatly tied (or are tied enough to contemplate an international move), you should just go. Research the length of time you can go to NZ on a tourist visa, pack the basics for you and the family, and go. You can buy towels & pots & pans in NZ - just pack three weeks worth of clothes & lots of pictures, and put the rest in storage. Take a very long holiday - tour the islands - see if Kiwi culture (or even being an expat) is for you.

Three things will come of this longer visit:

1) You'll hit the "Honeymoon's Over" Wall. Speaking from personal experience and observation of other expats, 4-6 months is the point where the rubber really hits the road from the standpoint of culture shock. I know it sounds like an expensive thing to do, but an extended & well researched time overseas is a helluva lot cheaper than making an international move and having to move back.

Given you have kids and a spouse who need to adjust to a new culture, new language, new educational system *drones on for hours*, I think it's especially important to make sure this is what ALL of you really want. I have a friend who's moved his partner's family from NY to the UK and found his partner's son is having real problems adjusting here. He's being bullied at school about his accent, lack of tribal affiliation with local sports teams, being a Yank, and generally whatever other kids can pick on because he is different from the kids around him. The other son is adjusting just fine, but he's also younger and seems to have a more resilient personality overall. Older kid was a bit "meh" about moving in the first place, so maybe that's a factor as well? Your results may vary, of course, but...

2) It might also let you make some casual contacts. I know the UK has pretty strict laws about not being able to go on job interviews, for example, when you're on a tourist visa, but casual meet and greets and expressions of interest are different. Email recruitment firms in your field in NZ, send them your CV, explain that you are really serious about making this move, explain what action you've taken already towards the move, and let them come back to you. They may not be able to formally have you interview when you're over, but they could always meet you and your spouse for a drink and a chat.

3) It will help you answer with some certainty and confidence the famous expat question "why have you moved here?" You will be asked this question a lot. An awful lot. Especially by possible employers, by possible landlords, by banks. They are gauging how normal you are from your answer, as well as how long you're likely to stick around. Are you worth the hassle & opportunity loss of hiring (or renting to) a local who is more likely than not to stay, where as you could just bail back to the US?

When asked this question, I could say "my husband grew up 10 miles from here and has worked for his locally headquartered employer for 16 yrs, his family lives here, they are elderly, and though healthy, are at an age that means they just need their kids around them" Even so, I found that it took me living and working in the country for over a year before the idea I was in the UK long term really seemed to stick with folks and real doors started to open.

Your situation is very different to this. At least, if you've been to the country before, you can say you fell in love with it from afar and have confirmed that love whilst on an extended visit.

A friend of mine decided to move to NZ from the UK with her partner. From what she describes, I think the comparison with Seattle or Portland is a really good one. I'm guessing if you wanted to move to NZ, you probably already knew that, though!

Good luck!
posted by Grrlscout at 2:54 AM on June 1, 2008

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