Navigating the visa application process can be complex and time-consuming, especially when dealing with varying processing times and requirements. However, you can take control of your application journey by understanding the process and the factors that influence it. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) oversees the issuance of various visas, including visitor visas, student visas, work visas, resident visas, and partnership visas. Each visa type has its processing timeline, influenced by factors such as INZ’s workload, the provided information’s accuracy, the documentation’s completeness, and whether a sponsor is involved. Understanding these timelines and the steps involved in the application process is crucial for applicants to set realistic expectations and prepare adequately.

Visa Processing Times

Below are the processing times for various visa types, each linking to more detailed information:

NZ Visa Processing Times  

Visa processing times can vary due to multiple factors, including INZ’s workload, incorrect or missing information, and a sponsor’s involvement.

Visa Application Processing Timeline  

Below is an overview of how Immigration New Zealand handles visa applications from start to finish.

  • Step 1: Lodgement  – Applications can be submitted to Immigration New Zealand by mail or through the immigration website, but online submission is the preferred method.
  • Step 2: Documentation –  A documentation officer conducts an initial check to ensure all necessary documents have been submitted. If an incomplete application is submitted in paper form, INZ may return it as a ‘Failed Lodgement’.
  • Step 3: Queue –  Applications are placed in a queue awaiting assignment to an immigration officer, which may take several weeks or months, depending on the application.
  • Step 4: AssessmentOnce assigned, an immigration officer will perform an initial assessment, possibly requesting additional information, clarification, or addressing concerns.
  • Step 5: Decision  – The process is complete if the application is approved. If declined, follow-up procedures may be necessary.

Visitor Visa and NZeTA Processing Times  

Processing times for visitor visas vary by type and can be longer during peak season, from October to February.

Wait Times  

The following wait times are based on applications processed in May 2024.

Note: 80% of visas are processed within these times, but some applications may take longer.

Visa Type Processing Time

Student Visa Processing Times  

Processing times may slow from December to April, as most university courses begin in February or March.

Visa Type Processing Time

  • Fee Paying Student Visa: 8 weeks
  • Dependent Child Student Visa: 9 weeks
  • MFAT-funded NZ Scholarship Student Visa: 5 weeks
  • Exchange Student Visa: 2 weeks

Work Visa and Employer Accreditation Processing Times  

Employers can request expedited processing if they have urgent needs, such as a migrant worker who has been exploited and needs to be transferred to a new employer.

Visa/Product Type Processing Time

Resident Visa Processing Times  

Residence visas typically take longer than temporary visas due to more extensive checks, often involving dependent family members.

Visa Type Processing Time

Partnership Visa Processing Times  

Partnership visas, such as the Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa, typically take around 10 weeks for 80% of applications, while the Partner of a New Zealander Resident Visa generally takes about 8 months. The Partner of a Student Visitor Visa is processed in approximately 10 weeks, and the Child of a Student Visitor Visa takes around 8 weeks.

  • Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa: 10 weeks  
  • Partner of a New Zealander Resident Visa: 8 months  
  • Partner of a Student Visitor Visa: 10 weeks  
  • Child of a Student Visitor Visa: 8 weeks 

Working Holiday Visa Processing Times  

The Working Holiday Visa usually takes about 5 weeks for 80% of applications. It allows young people from eligible countries to work and travel in New Zealand for up to 12 months.

Factors Affecting Visa Processing Times  

Understanding what can slow down your visa application and how you can help minimize delays is essential.

Common Factors  

  1. Incomplete Applications: Ensure all required evidence is included, and there are no mistakes or typos.
  2. Complex Applications: Applications involving medical issues, character concerns, or extensive travel histories may take longer.
  3. Sponsor Involvement: If your application is sponsored, ensure your sponsor completes any required forms promptly.
  4. Peak Seasons: Visitor visas peak from October to February, and student visas peak from November to March, potentially slowing down processing times.

Checking Your Application Status  

  • Log in to your Immigration Online account to check your visa status.
  • Check for emails from Immigration New Zealand requesting additional information, including your junk and spam folders.

Tips for Expediting Processing  

  • Provide all required documents in the correct format and ensure they are up to date.
  • Avoid submitting unnecessary evidence that could slow down processing.
  • For online applications, submit a photo of your passport instead of the original document.


Applying for a visa to New Zealand involves navigating a structured process that varies by visa type. This process is designed to ensure the thoroughness and accuracy of each application, giving you the confidence that your application is being handled with care. Processing times are influenced by several factors, including peak seasons, the accuracy and completeness of information provided, and whether a sponsor is involved. By understanding these factors and taking proactive steps, you can help expedite the process. By ensuring all documentation is thorough and accurately submitted, applicants can improve their chances of a smooth and timely visa approval, enabling them to enjoy the opportunities that New Zealand has to offer. Staying informed and prepared is critical to a successful visa application experience.



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