Taku Ipukarea, Kia Rangatira

A safe and prosperous Cook Islands through excellence in Foreign Service and Immigration

Immigration

Immigration in the Cook Islands

Effectively managing the travel, entry, stay and departure of person without continuing rights, is the sovereign right of the Government of the Cook Islands.

Immigration is important to the:

  • success of the Cook Islands, as immigration supports investment and business development, and appropriate access to skilled and needed workers.
  • safety of the Cook Islands, as immigration legislation prevents the travel, entry and stay of persons without continuing rights whose characters are not conducive to the safety of the Cook Islands, or who are not of an acceptable standard of health.
  • security of the Cook Islands, by ensuring that there are provisions to remove or deport persons without continuing rights who do not abide by Cook Islands law, or who are considered a threat or risk to security.

Principles

The principles for the Immigration Act are:

  • balance – between security and economic development
  • fairness – burden placed on legitimate travel to be minimised
  • security – checks and processes for a high level of security and penalties sufficient to deter violations
  • implementation – ensure legislation can be implemented
  • technology – allow for maximum use of technology
  • clarity and openness – readily understood by both public officials and the Public
  • consistency – with relevant international instruments and best practice.

The immigration legislation and regulations manage the travel, entry, stay and departure of all persons to support the success, safety and security of the Cook Islands.

Becoming a Permanent Resident of the Cook Islands

The awarding of Cook Islands permanent residence (PR) was last held in 2012 and 2013 where over 200 Non Cook Islanders were awarded Cook Islands Permanent Residence Status under the Entry Residence and Departures Act 1971/72 either in their own right or as spouses of Cook Islanders.

Given this large number, unprecedented for PR previously, community sentiment was to review the mechanisms and criteria that PR was awarded and to have a clear and transparent process for awarding PR. In 2016, that community sentiment was acknowledged by Government and the review of the Immigration legislative framework was approved by Cabinet who also agreed to pause PR applications and awards until such time that a new Immigration Act was passed by Parliament.

In December 2021 the Cook Islands Immigration Act was passed and the Prime Minister announced that consideration of PR awards would be a priority consideration for Government.

Criteria for grant of permanent residence in own right
  1. A person applying for permanent residence under regulation 10 must––
    1. be aged 18 years or older at the time the application is made; and
    2. provide evidence, acceptable to the principal immigration officer, that the person has a valid permit or is otherwise lawfully entitled to live in the Cook Islands; and
    3. provide evidence, acceptable to the principal immigration officer, of having lived continuously in the Cook Islands,––
      1. in the case of an applicant who is not a New Zealand citizen, for at least 10 years: and
      2. in the case of a New Zealand citizen, for at least 5 years; and
    4. provide evidence, acceptable to the principal immigration officer, of having completed the Kia Orana Values programme (or any similar programme offered by a government education provider or registered primary school, recommended by the Department):
    5. provide at least 4 statutory declarations in support of the application, including at least 1 from each of the following persons:
      1. an Aronga-mana in the person’s village of primary residence:
      2. an official from a community organisation for which the applicant has completed voluntary service:
      3. a member of the Cook Islands community who is not an immediate family member or a business associate of the applicant:
    6. provide evidence, acceptable to the principal immigration officer, of having completed at least 312 hours of community service in the 5-year period before lodging the application for permanent residence:
    7. comply with the requirements in these regulations to––
      1. provide original or certified copies of all documents; and
      2. translate documents not in English into English; and
      3. provide acceptable evidence of identity; and
      4. provide acceptable evidence that the person is of good character.
  2. In subclause (1)(f), community service means voluntary service to a community organisation, acceptable to the chief immigration officer (for example, being an officer-holder in a church, community, or sports group, or a non-governmental organisation).
Criteria for grant of permanent residence on spouse ground

A person applying for permanent residence under regulation 20 must––

  1. be married to, or in a de facto relationship with, a Cook Islander or permanent resident; and
  2. provide evidence, acceptable to the principal immigration officer, that the person has a valid permit or is otherwise lawfully entitled to live in the Cook Islands; and
  3. provide evidence acceptable to the principal immigration officer of having lived continuously in the Cook Islands,––
    1. in the case of an applicant who is not a New Zealand citizen, for at least 10 years; and
    2. in the case of an applicant who is a New Zealand citizen, for at least 5 years; and
  4. provide evidence acceptable to the principal immigration officer that––
    1. the applicant is married to or in a de facto relationship with a Cook Islander or permanent resident; and
    2. the relationship is genuine and stable; and
  5. provide evidence acceptable to the principal immigration officer that the marriage or de facto relationship is of at least 5 years duration; and
  6. provide evidence acceptable to the principal immigration officer of the applicant having completed the Kia Orana Values programme (or any similar programme offered by a government education provider or registered primary school, recommended by the Department); and
  7. comply with the requirements in these regulations to––
    1. provide original or certified copies of all documents; and
    2. translate documents not in English into English; and
    3. provide acceptable evidence of identity; and
    4. provide acceptable evidence that the person is of good character
Criteria for permanent residence by eligible children
  1. A person applying for the grant of permanent residence under regulation 25 must—
    1. be under the age of 18 years at the date of application; and
    2. provide evidence, acceptable to the principal immigration officer, that the person has a valid permit or is otherwise lawfully entitled to live in the Cook Islands; and
    3. be single (that is, not married or in a de facto relationship); and
    4. provide evidence, acceptable to the principal immigration officer, that the applicant is a dependent child of a Cook Islander or permanent resident; and
    5. have lived continuously in the Cook Islands for the past 5 years with a parent or guardian; and
    6. provide––
      1. an original or certified copy of a birth certificate showing the names of 1 or both of the child’s parents; or
      2. an original or certified copy of adoption papers showing that the child has been legally adopted by a parent or guardian; or
      3. an original or certified copy of a parenting order that has force in the Cook Islands; and
    7. comply with the requirements in these regulations to––
      1. provide original or certified copies of all documents; and
      2. translate documents not in English into English; and
      3. provide acceptable evidence of identity.
Permanent resident by descent
  1. Application for recognition as permanent resident by descent
    1. A person may apply, at any time, to the principal immigration officer to be recognised for official purposes as a permanent resident by descent.
    2. An applicant under this regulation must––
      1. complete an application form approved by the principal immigration officer; and
      2. provide documents (for example, adoption papers) that satisfy the principal immigration officer that the applicant should be recognised as a permanent resident by descent (see Article 76A of the Constitution (amended by the Constitution Amendment (No. 29) Act 2021); and
      3. comply with the requirements in these regulations to––
        1. provide original or certified copies of all documents; and
        2. translate documents not in English into English;
        3. provide acceptable evidence of identity
          Please email [email protected] to request an application.

Expression of Interest is closed as of Thursday 19th May 2022 4pm CKT