Pathways Desk
On 29 September 2021 the Immigration Minister Hon Kris Faafoi introduced the One-Off 2021 Resident Visa which is projected to provide up to 165,000 migrants with the certainty of New Zealand residence over the next year. Many migrants who are in New Zealand, and holding “qualifying” work visas, will be able to meet the criteria for this new one-off resident visa - which is wonderful news for them and their families.

Applications are being made in two intakes. Applicants who had a Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) or Residence from work (RfW) residence application lodged on 29 September 2021 or had a SMC Expression of Interest (EOI) submitted which included dependent children aged 17 years or older, have been able to lodge their 2021 Resident Visa application in the first intake from 1 December 2021. All other applicants must enter through the second intake which was to start 1 March but on 16 February 2022 has now been amended so that some individuals can apply sooner. For those who have previously submitted an EOI but were not eligible to apply in phase 1 they will now be eligible to apply by invitation from Immigration New Zealand (INZ) from as early as 21 February. INZ will invite people to apply based upon when the EOI was submitted with the oldest EOI’s being invited first. Applicants can only apply once they have received an email from INZ inviting them to do so. All other applicants can apply from 1 March 2022 as before. The last date to make a 2021 Resident Visa application is 31 July 2022.

The Phase 1 and the invitees from Phase 2 apply under the current online system and do not need to pay the application fee when lodging their application. The fee they will need to pay will be advised when their application is about to be decided and will take in to account the application fees already paid. However, they are required to fulfil all mandatory lodgement requirements including valid medicals upon submission.
Phase 2 applicants from 1 March will apply under the new INZ online system, application fees are to be paid upon submission, but medicals will be requested later if required. Given the current issues with delays in obtaining appointments for medicals, this will be a welcome relief for some.

However, both systems do require valid and acceptable identification documents so given the delays in issuing new passports for some countries, this will unfortunately still affect some applicant’s ability to apply when they wish to do so.

As of 16 February 2022, INZ have received more than 13,000 applications in Phase 1. Of those, nearly 6,000 have been approved, resulting in more than 12,500 people becoming residents under this new policy. INZ has allocated some 200 Immigration Officers to the processing of the 2021 Resident Visa applications with the intention to decide as many applications as possible before 1 March, and with the announcement of inviting some people from Phase 2 to now apply earlier it’s fair to say that INZ believes they are on track to meeting their delivery expectations.

A Recap on how to qualify for the One-Off 2021 Resident Visa?

Firstly, an applicant must normally be in New Zealand as of 29 September 2021 and, on this date, hold (or have applied for) a qualifying work visa which includes all of the main essential skills, work-to-residence, post-study work visas, and others. The notable work visas which do not qualify are partnership, specific purpose, and working holiday work visas. Many doctors and GPs, and high-level tech workers, are working in New Zealand as contractors and hold specific purpose work visas - which are not one of the qualifying work visa categories. It is unfortunate that these key target groups that the Government is wishing to retain in New Zealand have been overlooked with the current policy settings, and these visa holders will now have to wait until the resumption of the SMC in August 2022 to test their residence eligibility. Holders of critical purpose visitor visas for roles of 6 months or more can also qualify as long as they arrive in New Zealand, and apply for their 2021 Resident Visa, before 31 July 2022.

Secondly, unless they are a Critical Worker, an applicant must satisfy one of the secondary qualifying criteria of being Settled, Skilled of Scarce as at 29 September 2021;
• Settled: First arrived in New Zealand on or before 29 September 2018 and been in New Zealand for at least 821 days in the three years to 29 September 2021) OR
• Skilled: Be paid at or the above the median wage of $27.00 per hour, OR
• Scare: Work in a role on one of the “scarce role” lists which comprise:
– Roles on the current Long Term Skills Shortage List
– Roles in the health and education sector which require occupational registration
– Personal carers and other critical health workers
– A very wide range of primary sector and other sector roles ranging from farm manager/farm worker, forestry worker, slaughterer, stable hand, baker, cook and even pastry cook assistant, and many more roles! However, the wide variance in the roles listed, and the absence of many more deserving roles, is somewhat bewildering.

For those applicants who have partners and dependent children overseas their residence application can include these family members.

There are several favourable aspects of the 2021 Resident Visa application process.
1. There is no English requirement and no age restriction
2. As it is an online process, original documents are not required to be submitted
3. New overseas Police Certificates are not required unless requested by INZ
4. Medical certificates provided in the past 3 years can be relied upon and more health conditions can be accepted
5. Employment is based on average weekly work of 30 hours or more with allowances possible for reduced hours or pay due to the impact of Covid
6. There is a new option, for the first intake applicants, which enables dependent children aged 25 years and older to apply
7. The 2021 Resident Visa application fee is $2,160 which is favourable compared to Skilled Migrant.

To find out if you or your employee can qualify for the one-off resident visa do not hesitate – call 078349222 or contact a Pathways Licensed Immigration Adviser today!