2021 Resident Visa: more details are revealed

Our recent blog introduced the new one-off 2021 Resident Visa – a pathway to residence for people already living and working in New Zealand. The full instructions have now been released about this category. Pacific Legal is able to provide more details and to help guide you through the process.


What’s the intention of this resident visa?

The new visa has three objectives:

  1. Provide certainty for employers
  2. Enable migrants on many work visas to remain permanently, provided they are well settled in New Zealand or are working in skilled or scarce roles
  3. Attract  a small number of health workers and other highly-skilled critical workers.


How many people will be able to apply?

It is estimated that up to 165,000 people (110,000 applications) may be eligible.


What’s the essential requirement for all applicants?

You must have been in New Zealand on a qualifying visa on 29th September 2021 and remain on a qualifying visa at time of lodging the application. The most common qualifying visa is an Essential Skills work visa, others include Talent Visas, Post-Study work visas and Religious Worker work visas. Contact our office for more details of qualifying visas.


Who is definitely excluded?

Partnership visa holders, working holiday, visitor visa holders, limited visa holders, those with no visa, student visa holders and some others.  Contact us for details.


Any other exceptions to having to be here on 29th September 2021?

There are small number of exceptions for people temporarily in Australia on 29th September 2021 and for some highly skilled health and other workers offshore.  Contact us if this might apply to you.


What are the other main requirements – you need to be able to meet ONE of the criteria below


  • Settled criteria

You must have lived in New Zealand for 3 years or more (arrived on or before 29th September 2018 and spent a minimum of 821 days in New Zealand between then and 29th September 2021) OR

  • Skilled criteria

Have been earning the median wage ($27 per hour) or above on 29th September 2021 OR

  • Scarce criteria

Have been working in a job on one of the approved scarce list

  • Scarce criteria

If you have not been here for 3 or more years and or if you are  less than $27 per hour, you may still be eligible under the ‘scarce’ criteria.


To be eligible under this criteria, on 29th September 2021 you must work in a job on a scarce list. These are:

The list contains some surprising job types that would not normally be considered skills. Contact us for more details.


You must apply at the right time

Phase 1

These applicants can apply from 1st December 2021.  These are applicants who on 29th September 2021:

  1. had made an application for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category or a Residence from Work category; or
  2. had a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest in the Pool which included a dependent child aged 17 years or older as at 29th September 2021.

Phase 2

All other work visa holders must wait until Phase 2 on 1st March 2022 to apply, early applications will not be accepted.  The majority of applicants will be in phase 2.




Applying early means your application will be declined.

All 2021 Resident Visa applications must be lodged by 31st July 2022, no exceptions.

If you’re unsure what Phase you’re in contact us.





I’m going be eligible on 1st March 2021..…what are some key things to remember?

 You need to stay on a qualifying visa continuously from 29th September 2021 through to when your application is lodged.


My visa will expire  before 1 March 2022. What can I do?

If you on a work visa and staying with the same employer you may qualify for a streamline essential skills work visa which has reduced requirements. See our previous blog about this.


How will I apply?

There will be an online process. Phase 1 applicants will use the current immigration online platform but it is hoped by March 2022 to have a new platform on-line.


What other new details have been announced?

On 29th October 2021, detailed instructions and other details were released which confirmed:

  • The application fee will be $2,160 including GST. There will be some allowance made for people withdrawing other residence applications such as a skilled migrant or residence from work. Those who already entered a skilled migrant expression of interest will pay a top up fee being the difference between that fee and the above.
  • The criteria are applied to applications at the date of lodgement (important for anyone whose circumstances changed after 29th September 2021 (such as new job/employer, a job loss, health or character changes, pay cut etc).
  • Dependent children who already have turned 25 years old will still be able to be included in their parents’ application.
  • Partners and dependent children living offshore included will still need to prove an ongoing relationship with the New Zealand based applicant.
  • There is no age limit. This is a very generous aspect!
  • There is no English language requirement.


What about medical and police certificates?

You will not need to provide a medical certificate if these were completed within the last 36-months and assessed as having an acceptable standard of health (ASH).  However, if your health has changed or previously assessed as not ASH, you must provide a new limited medical certificate.

You will not need to  provide a police certificate from oversea, including your home country unless one is requested by Immigration New Zealand.


Your next steps

It makes sense to get all the paperwork ready now in preparation to apply when the application process opens. This is especially true if any documents need to be secured from overseas.

You can read more about the eligibility criteria for the 2021 Resident Visa here.

People holding working holiday visas, partnership work visas, and specific purpose work visas (SPV) are among those not eligible to apply.

If the 2021 Resident Visa is not open to you, your options are limited but still worth considering

  • Have you entered into a relationship with a New Zealand citizen or resident?
  • Do you currently hold a Work to Residence Visa from an accredited employer?
  • Do you have an offer of skilled employment? If so, employer supported visas and whatever replaces the Skilled Migrant Category may be relevant for you
  • Do you have access to a large amount of capital to invest in New Zealand? If so, the Investor categories may be good for you.

Contact us

Our experienced team are already advising many clients on eligibility for this new residence category.   Email or send us an enquiry form today for some initial free information about this new category.

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