An additional NZ residence pathway to help many, but not all

In good news for many, the Government has this week announced a one-off residence visa pathway for some temporary work visa holders currently in New Zealand. We are cautiously welcoming the announcement, as we await the detail.

The new one-off residence visa pathway for some temporary work visa holders currently in New Zealand, promises to help a large number of people to remain in New Zealand permanently. Some critical purpose visa holders arriving in New Zealand between 30 September 2021 and 31 July 2022 on long-term visas may also be eligible for this new visa. Partners and dependents can be included as part of these residence applications.

The Government has introduced this new visa, recognising the 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 news does provide long awaited certainty for some people. For example, it will help many of our clients, such as people on Post Study or Essential Skills work visas, who previously didn’t have any pathway to residence. They might, for example, be working as carers in nursing homes or as dairy farm assistants or in supermarkets as cashiers, earning less than $27 per hour, so weren’t able to previously meet the Skilled Migrant Category requirements. 

One family we have been working with has been here for more than five years, desperate for residence but unable to find employment that would pay $27 per hour so that they could meet the criteria. The changes announced today will help them with residency. They are thrilled that this could mean they can finally call New Zealand home, for good.

But then there are those people who are separated from their family, and this new Resident Visa pathway doesn’t address their separation in the short term and possibly not in the long-term either, given how stretched Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) resources are. It is very possible processing times may blow out.

So, we are cautiously welcoming this announcement. We know that the devil is always in the detail, and we don’t know all the detail yet. For example, these are the sorts of questions our clients want answers to; what will the INZ fee be to apply for the new 2021 Resident visa, is it affordable? Will people need to withdraw their current Skilled Migrant Category or Residence from Work applications before they can apply for the new Resident Visa? What resources will INZ be allocating for the assessment of these new Resident Visa applications, and those already in the residence queue? How long is all of this going to take?”

New 2021 Residence Visa at-a-glance

  • It will be available to work visa holders who have already submitted a resident visa applications under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) and Residence from Work (RfW) category and those who have submitted an SMC Expression of Interest, as well as many other work visa holders who may not have been eligible through the current skilled residence pathways.
  • Applications open in two phases. The first group of people can apply from 1 December 2021. The second group can apply from 1 March 2022.
  • All applications must be submitted by 31 July 2022.

What does this mean for the Skilled Migrant Category?

With the introduction of the new 2021 Residence Visa, the Minister has confirmed that selections of Expressions of Interest under the Skilled Migrant category will remain suspended until at least 31 July 2022.

Migrants who have submitted an Expression of Interest are likely to benefit from applying for Residence under the new category instead of waiting for selections to resume. 

Talk to us

For more detail about the new residence visa and its eligibility criteria contact our Immigration Team today. We can help you through the process.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.

Topics: All Select

Nick Mason

Position: Partner
DDI: +64 3 545 7897