News Article

latest news in employment law

The 2021 Resident Visa

Published 25 Oct 2021

Good news for some work visa holders currently in New Zealand as well as some critical purpose visa holders not yet in New Zealand, they may be eligible to apply for residency under the new residence category – The 2021 Resident Visa.

On 30 September 2021, the Government announced a new one-off residence visa pathway for specific temporary work visa holders currently in New Zealand and for specific critical purpose visa holders arriving in New Zealand between 30 September 2021 and 31 July 2022.

There will be a two-phase application process. First applications can be submitted from 1 December 2021 and the second (and last) from 1 March 2022. All applications must be submitted by 31 July 2022.

Government announced: "The eligibility criteria for the 2021 Resident Visa is designed to focus on people whose primary purpose for being in New Zealand is to work. This provides certainty to the majority of migrant workers and businesses, reflecting the migrants’ critical part in New Zealand’s economy."

To be eligible applicants must have met the criteria as listed below prior to the announcement, on 29 September 2021. The criteria are covered in two parts;
Part one, the applicant is required to meet BOTH of the requirements;

  • Been in New Zealand on 29 September 2021, and
  • Be on an eligible visa or have applied for an eligible visa on or before 29 September 2021 that is later granted.

Part two, the applicant must also meet ONE of the three criteria:

  • Have lived in New Zealand for three or more years, OR
  • The applicant must 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 consecutive and there is no minimum amount within a calendar year.
  • Earn at or above the median wage (currently at $27 per hour), OR
  • Work in a role on a scarce list. These include:
    • Jobs on the Long-Term Skill Shortage List
    • Jobs requiring occupational registration in the Health or Education sector
    • Personal Carers
    • Critical Health Workers
    • Specified primary sector jobs

If you meet the criteria for eligibility but are in Australia and have been unable to return to New Zealand by 29 September 2021, you may be considered eligible.

Applicants must have been on (or have applied for and later granted) one of the following visas to be eligible;

  • 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)

Two groups of Critical Purpose visitor visa holders will be eligible, as long as you arrive in New Zealand and apply before 31 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).

Short-term visa holders are not eligible, such as visitors, students, working holiday makers, and seasonal workers (including Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme workers) or those who enter as short-term critical workers.

Partners and dependent children, including those currently outside New Zealand, can be included in residence applications. Limited medical certificates and chest x-ray certificates may be required for some people.

All applicants must meet the health and character requirements for the 2021 Resident Visa, this yet to be clarified further.

Overseas police certificates will not be required unless specifically requested by an Immigration Officer.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) may request further information as part of the application process, and the application process will include an online application.

From 1 December 2021 you can apply if:

  • you have already applied for residence under the Skilled Migrant and Residence from Work categories before 29 September 2021, or
  • you have submitted a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest, and have included your dependent child in the Expression of Interest aged 17 years or older on 29 September 2021.

From 1 March 2022 all other eligible applicants can apply, including all others who have submitted a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest.

We are expecting additional information to be available from INZ by the end of October this year.

INZ has indicated that those who are eligible to apply in the first phase from 1st of December 2021 will receive an email from them by the end of October with specific information regarding their application.

This move by the Government is a one-off interim measure to deal with the important issue of migrant workers. COVID-19 clearly causing major disruption to the industry and causing major delays in timelines.

INZ have also announced the long awaited Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) which was due to be rolled out in the coming month will now not be.

It was announced that the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will not be introduced end 2021 but rather mid 2022. The AEWV which is set to replace 6 current temporary work visas with just this one, has created an influx of application for accreditations by thousands of Employers. This postponement and the introduction of the one-off 2021 Resident Visa brings some relief to a large number of Employers who have migrant workers. It is estimated that 160 000 migrant workers will benefit from the 2021 Resident Visa, this in turn will create more certainty for the NZ workforce.

Please refer to our previous news article for more detail on the AEWV and its requirements.