2021 Resident Visa offers residence pathway for eligible migrant workers

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On 30 September 2021, the Government announced a new one-off residence visa pathway for some temporary work visa holders currently in New Zealand.

This comes as a welcome and much needed measure to provide certainty for New Zealand businesses and our invaluable migrant worker community to plan into the future. It is estimated up to 165,000 migrant workers will be eligible for residency through this pathway, which promises to be streamlined and fast-tracked. It is estimated that majority of the applications will be processed within 12-months, with majority expected to be completed much sooner.

We are eagerly awaiting further information from Immigration New Zealand regarding this pathway, but here’s what we know so far.

Who is eligible?
This one-off residence pathway is available for people who were in New Zealand on 29th September 2021, who hold an ‘eligible work visa’ (or who had applied for one by 29th September 2021 which was subsequently granted), and who meet one of the following 3 criteria:

  1. Have lived in New Zealand for the past 3 years and spent majority of time in New Zealand; OR
  2. Earn at or above the median wage of $27 per hour; OR
  3. Work in a role on a scarce list.

‘Eligible’ Visas
Eligible work visas include the following, which applicants must have either held (or applied for and later granted) as at 29 September 2021:

  • Post Study Work Visa
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Religious Worker Work Visa
  • Talent (Arts, Culture, Sports) Work Visa
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Work Visa
  • Trafficking Victim Work Visa
  • Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visa
  • Skilled Migrant Category Job Search Work Visa
  • Victims of Family Violence Work Visa
  • South Island Contribution Work Visa
  • Work Visa granted under Section 61 (provided the applicant held another eligible visa type within 6 months before being granted a Section 61 visa)
  • Some Critical Purpose Visitor Visas (CPVV), including those who arrive in New Zealand and apply before 31st July 2022:
    - Critical health workers for longer term roles (6 months or longer), and
    - Other critical workers for long term roles (more than 6 months).

What’s not included?
The pathway does not include visas which are intended for shorter stay, such as:

  • Visitor visas
  • Student visas
  • Working-holiday visas
  • Seasonal Workers (such as those on the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme)
  • Short-term Critical Workers (less than 6 months)

Partners and Dependents Can Be Included
Partners and dependent children, including those currently outside New Zealand, can be included in residence applications under the 2021 Resident Visa. We await further information from Immigration New Zealand regarding border exemptions for this.

Health and Character
There is a streamlined process for applicants under this pathway. Applicants must meet the health and character requirements for the 2021 Resident Visa, but no overseas Police Clearance Certificates will be required unless specifically requested. Limited medical certificates and chest x-ray certificates may be required on a case-by-case basis.

Application Process
2021 Resident Visa applications will be open in two-stages:

First Stage

  • 1 December 2021 – for those who already applied under the Skilled Migrant and Residence from Work categories before 29th September 2021 or had submitted a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest which includes your dependent child/ children aged 17 years or older on 29 September 2021.
  • Those who are eligible to apply from 1 December 2021 will receive an email notification of this from Immigration New Zealand by the end of October.

Second stage:

  • 1st March 2022 for all other eligible remaining eligible applicants, including those who had submitted a Skilled Migrant Expression of Interest.

All applications under this one-off residence pathway must be lodged by 31st July 2022.

Immigration New Zealand is anticipated to release more information this month regarding the application fees and application process.

How we can help
At this stage, we are awaiting further clarification around the mechanics of the 2021 Resident Visa. In particular, it is unclear whether there is a points threshold to be met, any ANZCO requirements, as well as any age or English language requirements.

If you are keen to gain residence under this new one-off 2021 Resident Visa, we can assist by ensuring your application is carefully strategised, prepared and presented.

If you do not meet the criteria for the new 2021 Resident Visa, we can assist with exploring other avenues for residence or temporary visa options available to you.

If you you require assistance or clarification, please contact our Immigration specialist Amalie Blackman