2021 Resident Visa - the game-changing one-off - what you need to know
Early this morning the Minister made a major announcement of a new category of residence visa which is estimated to impact up to 165,000 migrants. Called the “One-Off 2021 Resident Visa”, this category offers a straightforward pathway to residence for thousands of migrants working in New Zealand.
What are the criteria?
You must be in New Zealand on 29 September 2021 and hold an eligible visa or have applied for an eligible visa before this date, that is later granted.
For the purposes of this residence category, eligible visa means most work visa categories, plus some Critical Purpose visitor visas which allow work in longer-term roles. It includes work visas granted under section 61, provided the applicant held another eligible visa type within 6 months of being granted a visa under section 61. The full list of eligible visa types is as follows:
- 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
- South Island Contribution Work Visa
- Work Visa granted under Section 61 (provided the applicant held another eligible visa type within 6 months of being granted a Section 61 visa)
- Some Critical Purpose Visitor Visas (CPVV):
- Critical health workers for longer term roles (6 months or longer), and
- Other critical workers for long term roles (more than 6 months).
It does not include visitor visas, student visas, working holiday visas, or visas allowing short-term work only such as RSE visas or Critical Purpose visas for short-term or seasonal roles. Nor does it include Partner of a New Zealander work visas, holders of which have an existing pathway to residence on the basis of their relationship.
Some people who are not in New Zealand on 29 September 2021 may also be eligible under this category. If you meet all the other criteria but are in Australia and were unable to return to New Zealand by 29 September 2021, you may still be considered eligible.
In addition, partners and dependent children can be included on an application under this category even if they are not currently in New Zealand, provided the principal applicant meets all the criteria.
Some Critical Purpose visitor visa holders will be eligible even if they were not in New Zealand on 29 September; provided they are in longer-term roles and arrive in New Zealand before 31 July 2022, and apply before this date, they will remain eligible under this category.
You must meet one of three other criteria
In addition to being in New Zealand and holding an eligible visa type, you must meet one of the three following criteria. You do not need to meet all three of these.
1. Lived in New Zealand for 3 or more years
To meet this criteria, you must have arrived in New Zealand on or before 29 September 2018, and have spent at least 821 days in New Zealand between 29 September 2018 and 29 September 2021. This means you must not have spent more than 9 months out of New Zealand in that time.
This does not mean the 821 days need to have been consecutive and there is no minimum number of days required in any particular calendar year.
2. Earn $27 per hour or more
You must have been receiving this pay rate on 29 September 2021. If your pay rate is raised to $27 per hour after that date, you will not meet this requirement.
3. Work in a role on a scarce list
These are jobs where there is a recognised shortage of New Zealand workers; if your role is on one of these lists, you will meet this criteria. For the purposes of this category, the scarce lists are:
- The Long Term Skill Shortage List
- Jobs which require occupational registration in the health or education sector
- Personal carers, and other critical health workers
- Specified primary sector jobs
General criteria apply
All applicants must still meet the health and character requirements for residence, however the usual requirement to provide up-to-date police and medical certificates does not apply. Overseas police certificates will not be required unless specifically requested by an Immigration Officer. Limited medical certificates and chest x-rays may be required for some candidates and INZ may ask for further information around health and character during the application process.
INZ has not stated that there will be an age cap to this category and so it is likely that those who exceed the age threshold for Residence from Work or the Skilled Migrant Category, will remain eligible under the 2021 One-Off category.
When can I apply?
If you meet the above requirements and are therefore eligible under this category, you will be able to submit an application over the coming months.
Applications will be open in two phases. The first phase opens on 1 December 2021, and will be open to people who:
- Have already applied for residence under the Skilled Migrant or Residence from Work Categories before 29 September 2021, or
- Have submitted an Expression of Interest under the Skilled Migrant Category before 29 September 2021, and you have included a dependent child aged 17 years or older in that Expression of Interest. This is to avoid situations where dependent children who have finished high school are left unable to work or study while their families’ residence applications process; families in this situation are moved to the first phase to minimise the time spent in this position.
Candidates who are eligible to apply in the first phase will receive an email in October with further information.
All other eligible candidates will be able to apply from 1 March 2022.
This is an online application, and all applications need to be submitted by 31 July 2022. More information about the fees and application process will become available over the next month.
INZ estimates that applications submitted under this category will take up to 12 months to process, but most will come through “much faster”. This category will be prioritised for processing and as a result, Skilled Migrant Expressions of Interest will remain frozen until 31 July 2022, when the One-Off category closes. Applicants in the EOI pool will still be able to apply under the One-Off category however, provided they meet the above criteria.
This news will come as a major relief to anyone who has been playing the waiting game with Immigration over recent years, particularly with the major processing delays for residence applications and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding when EOI draws will resume, and what the criteria will be.
For more information or feedback on how this change may impact you, contact us.