What you need to know for now



On 30th September 2021, the Government announced a new one-off residence pathway for some temporary work visa holders who were in New Zealand on 29th September 2021.  This announcement comes as welcomed news given the selection of Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest has been suspended for over a year, and thousands of applicants awaiting to progress their residence application.



2021 Resident Visa applications will be open in two-stages

First stage:

  • 1st December 2021 for those who already applied under the Skilled Migrant and Residence from Work categories before 29th September 2021 or had submitted a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest

Second stage:

  • 1st March 2022 for all other eligible remaining eligible applicants, including those who had submitted a Skilled Migrant Expression of Interest.

All applications under this one-off residence pathway must be lodged by 31st July 2022.



This one-off residence pathway is available for people who were in New Zealand on 29th September 2021 and hold an ‘eligible’ work visa (or have applied for and a later granted a work visa), applicants must also meet either of the 3-criteria below:

  1. Have been in New Zealand for most of the past three years  OR
  2. Are paid at or above the median wage ($27 per hour)  OR
  3. Have a work visa in certain “scarce” occupations.   There is a wide range of these “scarce” occupations ranging from skilled occupations under the current shortages lists to some unexpected occupations such as aged care or health care givers or fencers on farms.


‘Eligible’ work visas include

  • 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 already granted under Section 61 (provided the applicant held another eligible visa type within 6 months before 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).


Who’s not included?

Based on current information, those who hold the below visas are not eligible

  • Partnership based visas
  • Visitor visa
  • Student visa
  • Working Holiday work visa
  • Seasonal workers
  • Short-term critical workers


Partners and dependents can be included

If you qualify under the above criteria then you can include your partner and or dependent children even if they are outside New Zealand.  We await the detailed instructions to see how this will work in terms of border exceptions.


Health and Character

Applicants will be required to be of good health and character but there is an indication that a police certificate may not be needed from your home country.

Limited medical certificates and chest x-ray certificates may be required for some people. Immigration New Zealand may request further information as part of the application process.  Again more information is to come with the detailed instructions.


If you’re on an interim visa but awaiting a visa which fits the above criteria

Immigration New Zealand’s current advice on their assessment tool is  that you could be eligible but you need to select the visa that you have applied for. Presumably this would have to be granted for you to qualify. We await further information when the detailed instructions are issued.

This will be important for people whose visas expire prior to March 2022. We await the detailed instructions on this because the normal process does not permit people on Interim Visas to make other applications until their current application is decided.


Processing times

Immigration New Zealand say that they will be processing these applications well within 12 months but have been struggling with capacity issues with the closure of their offshore offices and backlogs and other existing categories.


Plan to stay in New Zealand during processing

Unless the border has reopened by March 2022, if you make this application you would need to plan to stay in New Zealand until the application is finalised.

If you leave New Zealand during processing under the current border settings, residence cannot be granted until you are able to re-enter New Zealand.  Currently, a border exception is needed for all but a small number of applicants.


What next

Although this is long-waited update, we are wary that the announcement is unclear on the need to meet the 160-point threshold; the need for ANZSCO; whether this an age limit, or the need to meet any English language requirement.  We understand further details are to be released next month, so watch this space!

If you are serious about gaining residence under this new one-off 2021 Resident Visa and want the assurance that your application is carefully strategized, properly prepared and presented, be sure to contact us for professional advice and representation.


Enquire through our form or contact us


Richard Small

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