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A simplified pathway to residence in New Zealand

On 30 September 2021, the New Zealand Government announced a new one-off residence pathway for most work-related visa holders currently in New Zealand, including Essential Skills, Work to Residence, and Post Study Work visas. Immigration New Zealand estimates eligible visa holders will include over 5,000 health and aged care workers, around 9,000 primary industry workers, and more than 800 teachers. Additionally, there are also around 15,000 construction and 12,000 manufacturing workers on relevant visa types, some of whom will be eligible for the one-off pathway.

Partners and dependent children, including those currently outside New Zealand, can be included in residence applications. Please note that the new resident visa does not apply for short-term visa holders, such as visitors, students, working holiday makers, and seasonal workers like those on the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme or those who enter as short-term critical workers.

“We are providing a way forward for our migrant families who have been long disrupted by COVID-19 , while ensuring businesses have the certainty they need to plan into the future and continue driving the economic recovery,” Minister Kris Faafoi said.

“We acknowledge the uncertainty and difficulties COVID-19 and our closed borders have caused our migrant community. We have been carefully working through this residence option to offer certainty they need to truly make New Zealand their home.”

When can I apply for the 2021 Resident Visa?

Applications will be open in two phases from 1 December 2021 for some eligible applicants and from 1 March 2022 for remaining eligible applicants. Those who are eligible to apply from 1 December 2021 will receive an email from Immigration New Zealand by the end of October with further information.

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.

All applications can be submitted online and must be made by 31 July 2022

More information about fees and the application process will be available on this Immigration New Zealand page by the end of October.

What are the eligibility requirements?

To be eligible you must:

  • have been in New Zealand on 29 September 2021, and

  • be on an eligible visa or have applied for an eligible visa on or before 29 September 2021 that is later granted.

You must also meet one of the following criteria:

  • have lived in New Zealand for three or more years, or

  • earn at or above the median wage ($27 per hour), or

  • work in a role on a Long Term Skill Shortage List

  • hold an occupational registration and work in the health or education sector, or

  • work in personal care or other critical health worker roles, or

  • work in a specified role in the primary industries

If you meet the criteria for eligibility but are in Australia and have been unable to return to New Zealand by 29 September 2021, you may be considered eligible.

Check if you are eligible to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa

What visas do the 2021 Resident Visa cover?

All applicants must have been on (or have applied for and later granted) one of the following visas on 29 September:

Individuals who do not meet the criteria will need to look at what other residence pathways or temporary visa options may be available to them.

Applicants working in a role on a Long Term Skill Shortage List

IELTS for migration

When you apply for the new 2021 Resident Visa, you may need to demonstrate that you meet certain minimum standards of English language proficiency (unless exemptions apply). IELTS helps you prove your language proficiency.

Why take an Academic test when you don't need to? The IELTS General Training test examines your English using every-day, non-academic English, and is accepted for migration, secondary education and work experience in New Zealand. It has the same modules as the Academic test but its Reading and Writing sections are based on general interest topics. In New Zealand, you can take the IELTS General Training test on paper or on computer

*Always check with Immigration New Zealand, your migration agent, education consultant or workplace to find out which IELTS test you need.

3 top Reasons to choose IELTS General Training

Immigration and the law

Content on this page is for general information on immigration to New Zealand and does not constitute legal advice or immigration advice. Legislation about immigration changes frequently. It’s important to check the Immigration New Zealand website for changes that may apply to you.

If you are interested in New Zealand student and work visas, or looking to migrate permanently, you need to lodge an application with the New Zealand Government. You may want to consider getting support from a lawyer or registered New Zealand Immigration Consultant.

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Published on September 30, 2021

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