On 30 September 2021, the Government announced a one-off resident visa. The 2021 Resident Visa will be available to most onshore (in New Zealand) work visa holders and their immediate family members.
The full policy has not been released yet, therefore, everything noted below is subject to change. Some details are still missing. Immigration New Zealand has indicated that more information will be available in late October 2021.
Immigration New Zealand is proposing to have no English language requirements and no age cap for the 2021 Resident Visa. This still needs to be confirmed by the full policy.
It is important to note that the 2021 Resident Visa will not be a Permanent Resident Visa.
This article will outline and explain what the Government and Immigration New Zealand (INZ) have confirmed.
Skilled Migrant Category Pool Selections Deferred & Comparison
To focus on the processing of the 2021 Resident Visa, selections from the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) Expression of Interest (EOI) pool will remain closed until the 2021 Resident Visa closes on 31 July 2022. Applicants who are in the Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest pool can apply for the 2021 Resident Visa if they meet the criteria and should consider doing so.
Applicants who have already applied for their Skilled Migrant Category or Residence From Work (RFW) applications will still have their applications processed. Immigration New Zealand has explained that the 2021 Resident Visa will be prioritised. Immigration New Zealand has also explained that it will be possible to have 2 Resident Visa applications submitted concurrently (at the same time).
Immigration New Zealand has indicated that it is not possible to convert existing residence applications into the 2021 Resident Visa.
It is likely that the 2021 Residence Visa will be faster because is it more straightforward when compared to the Skilled Migrant Category. For example, for the Skilled Migrant Category, applicants need to prove (with evidence) to Immigration New Zealand that they meet the requirements for the 160 points. If Immigration New Zealand is not satisfied that they meet the 160 points, they may be declined. Therefore, with the 2021 Resident Visa, applicants are less likely to have issues simply due to its simplicity.
Applications for the 2021 Resident Visa will be allocated for processing in date order of when they are received.
To be eligible, the applicant must have been in New Zealand on 29 September 2021 and must hold or have applied for (and subsequently be granted) one of the eligible work visas (listed below). They must also meet one of the following criteria:
‣ Settled: Lived in New Zealand for 3 or more years; or
‣ Skilled: Earn above the median wage; or
‣ Scarce: Work in a role on a scarce list. This includes:
o The Long Term Skill Shortage List, or
o Roles that require occupational registration and work in the health or education sector, or
o Specified primary industry roles.
The key point to note here is that applicants must only meet 1 of the criteria listed in the bullet points above. This is because it states “or” not “and”.
Applicants need to be on an eligible work visa at the time of application. For example, if an applicant was initially on an Essential Skills Work Visa (an eligible work visa), but later lost their job and changed to a Student Visa (non-eligible temporary visa) and they remained on the Student Visa, they may no longer be eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa.
Immigration New Zealand has indicated that applicants must be in New Zealand at the time of application. For example, if an applicant met the entry date requirement, but then left New Zealand and got stuck offshore, they may not be able to apply if they miss the cut-off date. This still needs to be confirmed by the full policy.
To meet the Settled criteria, applicants need to be in New Zealand for 3 years. This means, applicants who have lived in New Zealand for the past 3 or more years and:
- Have arrived in New Zealand on or before 29 September 2018, and
- Have spent a minimum of 821 days in New Zealand between 29 September 2018 and 29 September 2021 (inclusive).
The time spent in New Zealand does not need to be a consecutive 3 years. There is no minimum number of days a person needs to spend within each calendar year. Applicants can request their travel movements from Immigration New Zealand to check their total days.
To meet the Skilled criteria, applicants must be paid the median wage ($27.00 per hour or above) on 29 September 2021 and remain so at the time of application. Immigration New Zealand has also indicated that for the paid at the median wage ($27.00 per hour or above) criteria, applicants must also be in full-time employment (defined as a minimum of 30 hours per week). The employment must also be genuine and credible. This still needs to be confirmed by the full policy.
To meet the Scarce criteria, applicants must work in a role on one of the lists listed above as at 29 September 2021 and remain so at the time of application.
If an applicant met the criteria for eligibility but is in Australia and have been unable to return to New Zealand by 29 September 2021, the applicant may still be eligible.
Eligible Work Visas
Not every work visa will be eligible. The 2021 Resident Visa is only for some temporary work visa holders who are currently in New Zealand. Eligible visas are:
- Post-Study Work Visas;
- Work To Residence (Talent – Accredited Employer) Work Visas;
- Essential Skills Work Visas;
- Work To Residence (Religious Worker) Work Visas;
- Work To Residence (Talent – Arts, Culture, Sports) Work Visas;
- Work To Residence (Long Term Skill Shortage List) Work Visas;
- Silver Fern Practical Experience Work Visas;
- Trafficking Victim Work Visas;
- Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visas;
- Skilled Migrant Category Job Search Work Visas;
- Victims of Family Violence Work;
- Visa South Island Contribution Work Visas;
- Work Visas Granted Under Section 61 (Only if the applicant held another eligible visa type within 6 months of being granted a Section 61 Visa.);
- Some Critical Purpose Visitor Visas:
- Critical Health Workers for Long Term Roles (For 6 months or more.); and
- Other Critical Workers for Long Term Roles (For 6 months or more.).
Some Critical Health Workers for long term roles (for 6 months or more) and some Other Critical Workers for long term roles (for 6 months or more) may still be eligible to apply if they arrive in New Zealand between 30 September 2021 and 31 July 2022 and apply before 31 July 2022.
This means that the 2021 Resident Visa will not be available for migrant workers who hold visas that are intended for a shorter stay. These include:
- Visitor Visas;
- Student Visas;
- Working Holiday Work Visas;
- Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Limited Visas;
- Specific Purpose & Short-Term Critical Purpose Visas;
- Visa holders who have arrived since the border closure on Critical Purpose Visitor Visas for Short Term (Seasonal) Work;
- Entrepreneur Category Visa Holders;
- Investors Category Visa Holders; and
- Critical Purpose Visitor Visa holders who came through a border exception for Deepwater/Deepsea Fishing Crews, Agricultural/Horticultural Mobile Plant Operators, and Shearers.
People who are unlawfully in New Zealand are not eligible.
Visa holders who do not meet the criteria will need to look at other residence pathways.
Eligible applicants can also include their partners and dependent children in their application, including those currently outside of New Zealand. Partners will likely need to meet the “living together in a genuine and stable relationship for 12 months” requirement.
Submission & Processing Times
Applicants will be able to submit the 2021 Resident Visa online. All 2021 Resident Visa applications must be submitted by 31 July 2022.
Immigration New Zealand has explained that the majority of the 2021 Resident Visa applications will be granted within a year of the category opening.
Good Health & Good Character
The application process for the 2021 Resident Visa will be simplified. All applicants must still meet the good health and good character requirements.
Overseas police certificates will not be required unless specifically requested by an Immigration Officer due to concerns. Limited Medical Certificates and Chest X-ray Certificates may be required for some applicants. Immigration Officers can still request additional information.
The 2021 Resident Visa applications will open in 2 phases. On 1 December 2021 and then on 1 March 2022.
From 1 December 2021, people who have submitted a Skilled Migrant Category or Residence from Work application before 29 September 2021 can apply, as well as those who currently have a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest submitted and have included dependent children 17 years or older on 29 September 2021.
From 1 March 2022, all other eligible applicants, including any others in the Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest pool, can apply.
Immigration New Zealand is still working on the fees. The Minister of Immigration has signalled that it is not within his intention for applicants, who have already submitted their Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa or Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest, to pay another application fee upfront. The Minister of Immigration is considering both a fee refund and fee top-up system. Fees will be confirmed by the end of October 2021.
To check if an applicant is eligible, use Immigration New Zealand’s new tool (https://www.immigration.govt.nz/formshelp/one-off-residence-checker). Immigration New Zealand will also contact visa holders (or their lawyers/advisers) who are eligible to apply from 1 December 2021 by the end of October 2021.
You can also download our free eligibility flowchart.
Lauren Qiu is the Principal of Stay Legal. She is an experienced specialist immigration lawyer who provides honest advice and practical solutions. She has presented at national and regional seminars on immigration law. Lauren is currently an immigration law guest lecturer teaching aspiring immigration advisers.
Lauren is practical, effective, and dedicated. Lauren has assisted employers with practical advice, high net worth individuals with tailored solutions, skilled migrants and their families to gain residency, and unlawful migrants regain their lawful status. She has successfully requested character waivers, medical waivers, ministerial special directions, and appealed decisions. Connect with Lauren via email or LinkedIn