Gaining residence status in New Zealand can be a challenging and rigorous process. Recently, it had also become a very long process, with many applicants waiting in excess of two years for their applications to be processed. However, the benefits of becoming a New Zealand resident, including access to education, welfare and voting rights, make it worthwhile even in the face of these obstacles.
The “one-off” 2021 Resident Visa was introduced on the 29th of September 2021. The purpose of this visa is to provide the opportunity for up to 165,000 migrants who are already in New Zealand streamlined access to residence over the next year. The key objectives of the resident visa include:
The 2021 Resident Visa targets migrants whose primary purpose for being in New Zealand is to work. If you are an essential skills work visa holder, or a critical purpose visitor visa or work visa holder in New Zealand, you are likely to be eligible to apply for residence under the new 2021 Resident Visa. Examples of other qualifying visas include post-study work visas, religious worker work visas and talent visas.
Applications were divided into two phases:
Phase 1 – Phase one applicants were eligible to apply from 01 December 2021. These are applicants who on 29 September 2021, either had lodged a Skilled Migrant Category or Residence from Work application lodged or had submitted a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest which included a dependent child aged 17 years or older.
Phase 2 – Phase two applications opened for the majority of remaining eligible applicants on 01 March 2022. Unless they are a Critical Worker, the applicant must also satisfy one of the secondary qualifying criteria of being Settled, Skilled, or Scare as at 29 September 2021.
Both Phases will close on 31 July 2022. Applicants who have partners and dependent children overseas (aged 24 years and younger) are also able to include their family members in their application.
Settled – To be eligible under this category, the applicant must have been in New Zealand for the past 3 or more years. This includes arriving in New Zealand on or before 29 September 2018 and spending a minimum of 821 days in New Zealand between that date and 29 September 2021.
Skilled – Applicants who have not been here for 3 years could still be eligible under the skilled migrant category. To meet this, the applicant must be earning at or above the median wage ($27.00 per hour) in genuine, full time work for an average of at least 30 hours per week.
Scarce – If the applicant does not meet the settled or skilled criteria, they may be eligible under the scarce criteria. To be eligible, the applicant must work in an occupation included on one of four “scarce lists” by Immigration New Zealand.
There are several favorable aspects of this streamlined 2021 resident visa application process. In particular, the number of hurdles in the application process has been reduced. For example, there is no English requirement, no age limit, and no requirement for an overseas police certificate.
To allow for the online application system to be able to handle the large volume of Phase 2 applications, and address the frustrations unfortunately experienced by Phase 1 applicants who were unable to submit their applications for many days in December 2021 due to overloading of the system, Immigration New Zealand made some operational changes to ensure that individuals who were unable to apply on the 1st of March are not disadvantaged.
These changes include:
The 2021 Resident Visa is an opportunity that should not be missed by those eligible. It is not too late to submit either a Phase 1 or Phase 2 application, but do not delay much longer as all applications under this category must be submitted by 31 July 2022. If you would like more advice regarding your eligibility, the 2021 Resident Visa Application process or assistance applying for any other type of visa, please contact Wakefield’s Lawyers on 04-970-3600 or email email@example.com.
– Kailey Northcott (Law Clerk)