Everything You Need To Know About
The One-off 2021 Resident Visa
On 30 September 2021, the Government announced a new one-off residence category, the 2021 Resident Visa. This new one-off residence pathway means a large number of work visa holders will be able to remain in New Zealand permanently.
The 2021 Resident Visa recognizes the immense contribution migrants have made to New Zealand during COVID-19 and the uncertainty they’ve faced with closed borders and necessary changes to immigration settings.
The new resident visa will also allow employers to retain settled, skilled, and scarce migrant workers, reflecting their critical part in New Zealand’s economy.
Partners and dependents can be included as part of these residence applications.
Immigration New Zealand expects that around 165,000 migrants currently in New Zealand will be eligible for residence under this new category.
Who is eligible?
The basic requirement to be met is that:
you should have been in New Zealand on 29 Sep 2021 on any one of the 'Eligible Visas',
you should have applied for an 'Eligible Visa' on or before 29 Sep 2021 which is later granted.
Once you meet the basic requirement, then, you need to meet one of the three criteria defined by Immigration New Zealand as ‘Settled’, ‘Skilled’ and ‘Scarce’.
'Settled', 'Skilled' & 'Scarce'
To be eligible under the ‘Settled’ criteria, you must:
have arrived in New Zealand on or before 29 September 2018, and
have spent a minimum of 821 days in New Zealand between 29 September 2018 and 29 September 2021 (inclusive).
If you need to check how much time you have spent in New Zealand, you can request your travel movements from Immigration New Zealand.
To be eligible under the ‘Skilled’ criteria, you must be paid the median wage of NZD $27 per hour or above on 29 September 2021.
To be eligible under the ‘Scarce’ criteria, on 29 September 2021 you must have been working in a job that is on a 'Scarce List'. There are four 'Scarce Lists' for this purpose. These are:
Some critical workers coming to New Zealand for a longer-term (6+ months) role do not need to meet settled, skilled or scarce criteria if they held a Critical Purpose Visa 29 September 2021 or were granted one after that date.
To be eligible, those granted a Critical Purpose Visa to obtain occupational registration as a nurse in New Zealand must:
pass their Competence Assessment Programme and secure occupational registration, or
have transitioned to an eligible work visa before or on 29 September 2021 and meet either settled, skilled or scarce requirements.
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 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).
The 2021 Resident visa will be open for applications in two phases, with the first group of people able to apply from 1 December 2021.
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.
The last date to submit these applications is 31 July 2022.
It is expected the majority of applications will be processed within 12 months, with most being processed much faster.
First Phase Applicant Requirements
To be eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa, first phase applicants will need to meet criteria on two dates:
29 September 2021, which is the day before the announcement of the 2021 Resident Visa, and
the date they submit their application.
The principal applicant is the temporary work visa holder applying for the 2021 Resident Visa. Secondary applicants are any partners or dependants included in the application.
Principal applicants can meet the skilled criteria on one date and the scarce criteria on another and still be eligible.
Principal applicants must have been in New Zealand or Australia on 29 September 2021, or subsequently granted an eligible Critical Purpose visa. Those in Australia must have left New Zealand between 6 April 2021 and 23 July 2021 (inclusive). All applicants must be in New Zealand to apply.
Partners and dependent children in New Zealand and overseas can be included in applications as secondary applicants.
Dependent children 25+
Dependent children aged 25 and over that were included in a skilled residence or Expression of Interest (EOI) on or before 29 September cannot be included as a dependent child in a 2021 Resident Visa application. However, they can submit their own application as an attached document when they submit their online 2021 Resident Visa application. No additional fee will be charged for the child.
They can be granted their own 2021 Resident visa if:
they meet standard health and character requirements, and
a parent is granted a 2021 Resident Visa.
Dependent children overseas who are granted a 2021 Resident Visa are exempt from our border restrictions and may travel to New Zealand.
To approve a 2021 Resident Visa for a partner, INZ must be satisfied that the couple have lived together in a genuine and stable relationship for 12 months or more during their relationship.
INZ will consider the relationship history of couples separated by COVID-19 border restrictions or other factors when assessing applications for partners.
A partner will not be eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa if they have not met or lived with the principal applicant.
Current resident visa requirements apply.
Cost: INZ Fee
The total cost of the 2021 Resident Visa is NZD$2,160 including GST.
This includes a NZD$1,330 application fee and NZD$830 immigration levy.
Applicants will not need to pay another fee when they apply for a 2021 Resident Visa.
However, once an in-principle decision has been made on the 2021 Resident Visa application, the application fee will need to be paid.
At this point, for those who choose to withdraw their SMC application, the fee from that application will be used to cover the cost of the 2021 Resident Visa and the difference will be refunded.
As the RfW and SMC EOI application fees are less than the 2021 Resident Visa application, these applicants who choose to withdraw their earlier application will need to pay the difference in the fees before an application is finalised.
Those who choose not to withdraw their earlier applications will need to pay the NZD$1330 application fee for the 2021 Resident Visa. This is to cover the cost of processing both applications.
Those who have paid a levy will not need to pay it again.
2021 Interim Visa
INZ will grant interim visas of up to 12 months to 2021 Resident Visa applicants awaiting a decision to ensure they remain lawful while their applications are processed.
Once a 2021 Interim Visa starts, its duration depends on the outcome of the 2021 Resident Visa application, as below.
If the application for 2021 Resident Visa is approved within 12 calendar months of the 2021 Interim Visa’s start date, the 2021 Interim Visa would be cancelled on the start date of the further visa.
If the application for 2021 Resident Visa is declined within 12 calendar months of the 2021 Interim Visa’s start date, the 2021 Interim Visa would expire 2 calendar months after the date the 2021 Resident Visa is declined.
If the application for 2021 Resident Visa is withdrawn within 12 calendar months of the 2021 Interim Visa’s start date, the 2021 Interim Visa would expire 2 calendar months after the date the application for a further temporary visa is withdrawn.
If the application for 2021 Resident Visa is still under consideration 12 calendar months after the 2021 Interim Visa’s start date, the 2021 Interim Visa would expire 12 calendar months from the 2021 Interim Visa’s start date.
If the 2021 Resident Visa application is declined or withdrawn before the applicant’s current temporary visa expires, the 2021 Interim Visa will expire the day the 2021 Resident Visa application is declined or withdrawn.
If the 2021 Resident Visa application is approved before the applicant’s current temporary visa expires, the 2021 Interim Visa will be cancelled on the start date of the 2021 Resident Visa.
Key points to note:
The 2021 Interim Visa will have the same rights as the applicant’s current temporary visa.
There would be no travel conditions applied to the 2021 interim visa.
Applicants on Employer Specific work visas like Essential Skills Work Visa holders would not be able to change their conditions of work, including their employer when they are on the 2021 Interim Visa.
Work to Residence visa holders whose visa may be expiring while their 2021 Resident Visa application is being processed and have a pathway to Residence from Work, need to consider being on the 2021 Interim Visa, as their 2021 Interim Visa would not allow them to apply for a Residence from Work application, when they become eligible; and they cannot renew a further Work to Residence Visa in the future as well.
FAQs - 2
What is the volume of applications INZ is expecting in Phase 1?
INZ is expecting about 15,000 applications in Phase 1.
For qualifying under the “Settled” criteria, is it ok if I meet all the requirements but entered New Zealand on a Student Visa?
Yes. It does not matter which visa you have entered New Zealand on. If you meet all the other requirements, you will qualify even if you entered New Zealand on a Student or a Visitor Visa.
To qualify under the “Settled” criteria, is it necessary to have spent 821 days in New Zealand consecutively?
To qualify under the “Settled” criteria, applicants need to have been in New Zealand for at least 75% of their time between 29 Sep 2018 and 29 Sep 2021. This amounts to 821 days in New Zealand. These 821 days do not have to be spent consecutively. There's also no minimum amount of days within a calendar year that should have been spent.
Can I apply even if I was not in NZ on 29 Sep 2021?
The only people who can apply for the 2021 Resident Visa, even if they were not in New Zealand on 29 Sep 2021 are, those who are on a Critical Purpose Visa – as a Critical Health Worker or Other Critical Worker. However, these people must arrive in NZ and apply for the 2021 Resident Visa before 31 July 2022.
How will remuneration be calculated under the “Skilled” criteria?
Remuneration will be calculated the same way as it is calculated now under the Skilled Migrant and the Essential Skills Work Visa categories.
Can self-employed contractors be eligible under the “Skilled” criteria?
Self-employed contractors may be eligible if they've got a consistent history of contract work and have a current contract. The employment must be genuine, and it must be full time and the employment agreement must show that they work an average of 30 hours per week over an agreed pay period.
What about a casual contract?
For a casual contract, INZ would be looking at the employment agreement. If there is no mention of hours on it, it is unlikely to meet the requirements. However, INZ may also be looking at other documents such as IRD statements, payslips or bank statements. An employer could also provide a letter confirming the average hours worked each week.
Can dependent children aged 25 or above apply at the same time as their eligible parent?
Dependent children aged 25 or above who meet all the requirements for being a dependent child except age, can make their application at the same time as their eligible parents.
Where would these applications be lodged and assessed?
These applications would be accepted and lodged by NADO. The three processing offices for the 2021 Resident Visa are Hamilton, Christchurch, and Manukau.
Can secondary applicants of an on-hand Skilled Migrant Category/Residence from Work application apply under Phase 1 if they are eligible in their own right for the 2021 Resident Visa?
Yes, secondary applicants included in a Skilled Migrant Category/Residence from Work application or a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest may qualify as a Phase 1 applicant, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.
What if I meet the “Skilled” criteria on 29 Sep 2021 and then my circumstances change?
Applicants must meet one of the three criteria on 29 Sep 2021 and at the time that they apply. So, a person can meet the “Skilled” criteria on 29 Sep, but if his circumstances change such that he loses his current job, but finds employment in a “Scarce” role, then he would still be able to qualify as he would be meeting the “Scarce” criteria at the time he applies.
Do Critical Purpose Visa holders also need to meet the “Settled”, “Skilled” or “Scarce” criteria?
The Critical Purpose Visa holders who would qualify for the 2021 Resident Visa are those who have longer-term roles, and they must have been granted entry to New Zealand for six months or more as a Critical Health Worker or an Other Critical Worker. They do not need to meet the “Settled”, “Skilled” or “Scarce” criteria, if they held a Critical Health Worker or other Critical Worker Visa on 29 Sep 2021, or they were granted a visa as a Critical Health Worker or Other Critical Worker after 29 Sep 2021. They, however, have to be in New Zealand to apply, and they must apply before 31 July 2022.
Only Critical Purpose Visa holders who have obtained a different type of eligible visa on or before 29 Sep 2021 will need to meet one of the requirements - "Skilled" or "Scarce".
Is it better to apply for Phase 1 and Phase 2 on their launch dates itself?
Immigration New Zealand does not want everybody applying in the first hour of the first day. INZ has further advised that the turnaround time for these applications will be quite quick. The applications for this visa close on 31 July 2022. There is adequate time to apply so no need to rush.
Can I apply for the 2021 resident visa and while it's being assessed depart New Zealand?
If a person chooses to leave New Zealand after they've submitted their application, Immigration New Zealand cannot approve it until the applicant has returned to New Zealand. It's also important that the applicant considers the current border restrictions, which may or may not prevent re-entry to New Zealand, along with the MIQ formalities.
There are many people who are eligible to apply under Phase 1 but have not received an email from INZ. Can they still apply?
Yes, if they are eligible to apply under Phase 1, these people can still apply even if INZ has not sent them an email yet. Many such applicants would be receiving an email soon.
How would National Security Checks (NSC) be provided?
There is no change in this. NSCs are initiated by Immigration New Zealand and they would send the necessary forms for these to such applicants when their application is being assessed.
What if my last visa was approved as ‘ASH’ – acceptable standard of health with conditions and my medicals are within 36 months? Do I still need to provide the Limited Medical Certificate?
If this is the case, and/or any other situation wherein a person’s health has changed, the Limited Medical Certificate may be needed.
Can I include my partner who is currently offshore in my application?
Yes, normal partnership requirements for residence will apply. Applicants must be living in a genuine and stable relationship for 12 months. Where the partner and the applicant are not currently living together, there are existing provisions and instructions where INZ can consider the reasons for separation which could include COVID reasons due to border restrictions. INZ will weigh and balance the evidence of the relationship, how the relationship has been maintained and how long they had lived together prior to the separation. If INZ feels that the relationship is genuine and stable but the living together requirements are not being met, they may defer the decision on the application till the condition is met.
During the processing of my 2021 resident visa application, am I required to apply for a new work visa? Will this affect my eligibility?
Applicants need to be on a valid temporary visa in order for INZ to process and decide your resident application. This means that applicants need to ensure that they have got a temporary visa for an extended period of time. However, there is no requirement for them to hold an eligible visa during the assessment of their 2021 Resident Visa.
FAQs - 1
Is there an age limit?
No, there is no age limit.
If I applied for an eligible work visa but it has not been granted yet, can I submit my residence application?
Once the work visa is granted, yes. People who had an application lodged for an eligible visa on or before 29/09/2021 may be able to apply for the one- off resident visa if the work visa is granted. This means it will need to be approved before 31/07/2022 to have time to submit the residence application.
I held an eligible work visa on 29/09/2021 but I had just been made redundant from my job. I hadn't found a new job yet and hadn't applied for a VoC/new WV. Am I eligible?
You need to be on an eligible visa and meet one of the three eligibility criteria at the time of applying for the 2021 Residence Visa as well to be eligible.
I had an eligible visa and met requirements on 29/09/2021, but what if my circumstances change (change to lower pay or non-scarce role, or no WV, etc). Am I eligible?
As we understand, you need to have met the ‘settled’, ‘scarce’, or skilled criteria on 29 Sep 2021 and should meet one of these criteria at the time of applying for the 2021 Resident Visa as well to be eligible. We will have to wait for the immigration instructions to be released to be able to confirm this.
How does eligibility work if my visa was granted under section - 61?
Clients may be eligible if they hold a Work Visa granted under Section 61, provided the applicant held another eligible visa type within 6 months of being granted a Section 61 visa. Effectively, the client must have held an eligible visa at some point in the 6 months prior to being granted a visa under s61.
I held an eligible visa then was granted a VV under section-61 - am I eligible?
If you held a Visitor Visa issued under section-61 on 29 September 2021, you will not be eligible. Only some Critical Purpose Visitor Visas are eligible. These visas will not be granted to onshore clients. This means that no section-61 Visitor Visa types will be eligible. For clarity, Student Visas granted under s61 are also not eligible.
I had a section-61 request in process on 29/09/2021. If this is granted as a Work Visa, am I eligible?
Possibly, we can discuss this on a case-to-case basis.
What if my pay rate was temporarily less than the median wage due to the level 4 lockdown? Will I still be eligible?
INZ recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic and current Alert Level changes may have impacted some applicants’ earnings and will take a pragmatic approach to any short-term ﬂuctuations in pay as a result.
Do I need to have held an eligible Work Visa for the full 3 years?
No. There is no speciﬁcation for any type of visa being held during this time. Provided the client has been in NZ long enough and holds or has applied for an eligible visa (as of 29/09/2021), they may be eligible.
What if I was unlawful at some point during the 3 years?
This is okay. Again, provided the client has been in NZ long enough and holds or has applied for an eligible visa (as at 29/09/2021), they may be eligible.
What if I came to NZ for a visit years ago, then moved here after 29/09/2018?
You may be eligible, however, we need to wait for the ﬁnal instructions to be sure.
What if I moved to NZ shortly after 29/09/2018 and had not been here before?
You may not be eligible under the 'settled' criteria. Please check if you meet skilled or scarce criteria.
Do I need to meet LTSSL requirements to be eligible?
No, you will need to provide evidence of occupational registration in New Zealand (if applicable) along with your employment agreement.
What about students with full-time work rights?
No. Masters and PhD students are also not eligible for this residence pathway, despite having work rights, unless they have applied for an eligible visa before the date of the announcement (eg PSWV).
When the median wage increases in Feb 2022, will the new or old median wage apply?
Eligibility is calculated at the date before announcement, when the median wage was $27 per hour. Even if the median wage increases afterwards, this will not affect the client's eligibility.
Can I apply if I am currently overseas?
You cannot submit the application while overseas. However, holders of critical purpose visas can travel into New Zealand and submit the application once here. Clients in Australia may also need to travel to NZ to be able to apply.
I have an eligible New Zealand visa but I am currently stuck in Australia – can I apply?
Principal applicants must have been in New Zealand or Australia on 29 September 2021, or subsequently granted an eligible Critical Purpose Visa. Those in Australia must have left New Zealand between 06 April 2021 and 23 July 2021.
What if I have not lived with my partner for 12 months yet?
You can include them in your application, however, INZ may not grant them the visa until you have lived together for 12 months.
What if my dependent child turns 17 after the announcement is made?
Then you are phase 2. Dependent children must be 17 or older on the day before the announcement is made in order to meet that criteria to apply in phase 1.
What if I sent my residence application in on paper but it was not lodged yet?
If the application was sent before the announcement then you may still be phase 1, even if it has not been lodged yet.
My SMC/RfW application has been allocated, should I apply for the new visa?
This decision is yours to make. SMC and RfW applications will continue to be processed, however the processing of these applications is more complex and therefore may take longer to process.
What about dependents who have aged out, are they eligible for this one-off pathway?
Dependents included in the existing residence application or EOI who are now over 24 years old can be included in the new one-off application. These dependents still need to meet the deﬁnition of a dependent child, except for the age requirement.
Will people still be able to apply through SMC? Will it still exist?
Yes, this one-off residence pathway does not replace the Skilled Migrant Category. The Government remains committed to reopening selections of Expressions of Interest for the Skilled Migrant Category. However, Immigration New Zealand will be prioritizing the processing of applications under the one-off residence pathway to ensure most of them are processed within a year. To do this, the EOI selections will remain suspended until after applications for this pathway close on 31 July 2022. Once applications for the one-off residence visa close on 31 July 2022, individuals will need to apply for residence through the normal pathways and meet the relevant criteria.
Will my application go to the back of the queue if I withdraw it from the SMC residence queue and apply under this new pathway?
Applications for the one-off residence visa will be processed in date order, but because the process is more streamlined than under the SMC applications will be decided more quickly. People who have already submitted an SMC or RfW application will be able to start applying for the one-off resident visa from 1 December 2021 while others will have to wait until 1 March 2022. This reﬂects the fact that individuals with skilled residence applications have already been waiting for their application to be assessed.