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A few years ago, I applied for a residency Visa to live and work in New Zealand.

I received an email indicating that my application was likely to be denied (tl;dr: because I had not yet finished university), and was offered the opportunity to withdraw my application. Rather than withdraw, I made some edits to address this point and crossed my fingers. My application was ultimately denied.

Of course, I made no attempt to physically enter the country.

I have since been told that this counts as having been "denied entrance" to NZ, and that this will negatively impact my ability to get a similar Visa to New Zealand in the future, or even my ability to get a Visa for other countries. I have been told that I should have taken the opportunity to withdraw.

How seriously will this impact my ability to get a Visa, to NZ or to another country, in the future?

  • Is it a non-issue?
  • Is it a minor issue that can usually be resolved by explaining the circumstances?
  • Is it something that will have a negative impact even after explaining the circumstances?
  • Is it something that will become less of a problem after a few more years have gone by?
  • this question feels like it must be a dupe. but i'm not finding a generic "are visa denials bad? how bad?" question. (some context-specific ones, like "how bad are medical-based visa denials compared to other types?" or "how to deal with serial visa denials?", but i didn't see any more generic ones) – Woodrow Barlow Jan 13 at 22:00
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This is not a non-issue. Every time you need to apply for a visa to New Zealand or any other country you will have to explain that you have been refused a visa, and give details of the circumstances. Don't be tempted to omit the details. If the country to which you are applying already knows you have been refused and you omit the information, you'll be considered to be attempting to deceive the immigration authorities and it's likely to land you with a long ban and even more trouble with visa applications. This is particularly true of the Five Eyes countries: New Zealand, Australia, the US, Canada and the UK.

It will have a negative impact forever, if only because it's something else the ECOs have to consider. How much of an impact depends on the exact circumstances of the refusal, and what visa you're applying for. If your circumstances have changed so much that the reasons for refusal have no relevance any more then another application could well succeed.

That impact can be mitigated by building up a travel history. I'm guessing you're a US citizen, so many places are accessible to you for short visits without a visa. Showing that you have a history of visiting countries and complying with the rules will raise your credibility, although even for visa-free entry you should be prepared to answer questions about your refusal.

On a personal note: getting residency in New Zealand is not easy - I know, I did it. Applying for a lesser visa, like a two-year work permit, is easier and could provide a basis for residency later. Some people I know here have been here for ten years or more, renewing their work permit every two years.

  • In addition: because it was a request for a residency visa, you may have more difficult to explain that your intention is to return back. – Giacomo Catenazzi Jan 15 at 8:50

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