Visa Processing Times

We check visa processing times announced by Immigration NZ every week and update the details on this page.

The visa processing time can vary depending on many factors, such as, INZ's workload, incorrect information supplied, missing information, and if there is a sponsor involved.

Visa Application Processing Timeline

The timeline below is a representation of how an immigration application is managed by Immigration New Zealand from start to end.
  • Lodgement

    Application is lodged to Immigration New Zealand either by post or via immigration website. Recommended method is to lodge online.

  • Documentation

    A documentation officer will undertake a preliminary check to see if all lodgement required documents have been submitted. If lodged in paper form and something's missing, INZ can 'RFL' (Return Failed Lodgement) the application.

  • Queue

    The application will sit in a queue pending allocation to an immigration officer. It could be several weeks or months depending on the application.

  • Assessment

    When an immigration officer has been allocated, an initial assessment will be undertaken. The officer may ask for more information, clarification or a response to concerns raised.

  • Decision

    If it is approved, good news, but if it is declined, there may need to be follow up processes.

If you get an immigration lawyer, you will be much safer and less stressed, as you will get professional guidance in the steps involved, clearing all your questions and doubts.

2021 Resident Visa Processing Time

As of 13 January 2024, INZ has processed more than 97 per cent of applications, which means there remain more than 3,000 applications still to be decided. Their initial projection was 18 months from March 2022. 

Total applications received


Total number of applicants (incl dependents)


Applications approved


Applicants approved (incl dependents)


Declined applications


Visitor Visa and NZeTA Processing Times

The processing times depend on the time of the visitor visa you are applying for. It will take a bit longer during the peak season which is usually from October to February.

New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA)

72 hours

Visitor Visa (General)

5 weeks

Partner of a New Zealander Visitor Visa

4 months

Business Visitor Visa

3 weeks

Student Visa Processing Times

Things can slowdown a bit towards December to April each year. This is because the course commencement date for universities are usually in February or March.

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 make a formal request for escalation if there are genuine needs. For example, we were able to get escalation approved as the migrant worker was being exploited and wanted to move to the new employer urgently.

Resident Visa Processing Times

Residence visas tend to take a bit longer than temporary visa applications as there are more things to check and often includes dependent family members (partner and children).

Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa (Previous visa criteria)

11 months

Straight to Residence Visa

5 months

Work to Residence Visa

8 weeks

Permanent Resident Visa

5 weeks

How to Get Your Visa Processed Faster

Make sure that you have covered all bases in terms of the kind of supporting documents provided as well as the quality of the documents.  
You have to understand that Immigration New Zealand's guides and checklists are merely the starting point. Checking off the list does not necessarily mean your application will be approved or be processed quicker.
Getting an immigration lawyer to help with the application will ensure that the right kind of evidence is produced to INZ in an easy to understand fashion. This will ensure smoother and faster processing without hiccups.
If you are applying for an employment-based application, you may be able to apply for an escalation if there is a genuine need. We have helped many clients to be granted escalation but the threshold is high.
author headshot Michael Yoon
Last modified on 7 January 2024 by
Michael Yoon
Michael has been working as a lawyer in New Zealand since 2006. Over the years, he has successfully helped thousands of clients to get their desired outcome. Clients find Michael knowledgeable, approachable and professional — a trusted expert.

Got questions about immigration but feel lost and unsure?

We provide a tailored approach to our services to ensure your immigration process is completed as smoothly and worry-free as possible. 

From start to finish, with us, you can apply with confidence.
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