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Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Many migrants breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday as welcome news came in the form of an announcement from the Minister of Immigration. This outlined a new pathway to residence of New Zealand for thousands of people who have been waiting for 18 months to see whether they would ever find themselves eligible for the benefits residence conveys.

Essentially, a new 2021 Resident Visa has been created, and will provide a streamlined process to residence for those that are eligible.

The significance of this visa cannot be underestimated, as it provides a potential pathway for up to 165,000 migrants and their families who can now move forward with some certainty. Importantly for New Zealand it will also have the effect of retaining much needed skills in an increasingly tight labour market. Applicants for the new Visa will need to show:

  • they were in NZ on the 29th September 2021; and

  • are on an eligible visa, or have lodged an application for an eligible visa prior to 29th September 2021, that was later granted.

And meet one of the following criteria:

  • they will need to have lived in New Zealand for three or more years, or

  • earn at or above $27 per hour, or

  • work in a role on a scarce list.

And must have been on one of the following visas:

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) / Critical health workers for longer term roles (6 months or longer) / Other critical workers for long term roles (more than 6 months).

Partners and dependent children (including those currently outside NZ) can be included in applications, and as part of the streamlined criteria police certificates will not be required (unless specifically requested); which also applies to medicals.

This new visa category will be open for applications in 2 phases, with the first group of migrants able to apply where they:

  • have applied for residence already under the Skilled Migrant Category or Residence from Work categories before the 29thSeptember 2021; or

  • have submitted a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest and included their dependent child in the EOI aged 17 years or older on 29th September 2021.

This visa presents an opportunity for the majority of migrants currently in New Zealand to secure their future here. But, given all applications must be submitted by 31st July 2022 we suggest getting onto document preparation for your application early – as this can take months in some cases.

If you are unsure of your eligibility, or would simply like to discuss your options we are always happy to provide guidance on the pathway forward, so please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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