October 21, 2021

Govt to grant one-off Residence Visa to nearly 165,000 migrants

By: Gurbir Singh

Uncertainty for around 165,000 migrants currently in New Zealand will end with Government today announcing a one-off, simplified pathway to residence to those who are already in the country.

The Minister of Immigration, Kris Faafoi, made the announcement of the 2021 Resident Visa early this morning.

The 2021 Resident Visa will be available to most work-related visa holders, including Essential Skills, Work to Residence, and Post Study Work visas and their immediate family members.

People will need to hold, or have already applied for, and are subsequently granted, one of the eligible work visas.

The visa will also be available for those who enter New Zealand as critical workers, and their families, for roles six months or longer until 31 July 2022.

Visa holders can also include their partners and dependents in their application.

Applications for the 2021 Resident Visa will be accepted from 1 December 2021 to 31 July 2022 in two phases. In the first phase, those who have submitted a SMC or RfW application can apply, and in the second phase, all other eligible applicants can apply.

The one-off arrangement for the new 2021 Resident Visa would see the majority of applications granted within a year of the category opening.

Visa holders must be in New Zealand to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa.

According to Immigration New Zealand estimates, the eligible visa holders who will benefit will include over 5,000 health and aged care workers, around 9,000 primary industry workers, and more than 800 teachers. 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.


Eligibility criteria:

  • principal applicant must have been in NZ on 29 September 2021 and must hold or have applied for (and subsequently be granted) one of the eligible work visas
  • lived in NZ for three or more years, or
  • earn above the median wage ($27 per hour or more), or
  • work in a role on the Long Term Skill Shortage List, or
  • hold 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

“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,” Kris Faafoi said.

There are currently a large number of temporary migrants on relevant visas working across a range of sectors who may be eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa, including around 10,000 in the healthcare and social assistance sector, 9,000 in agriculture, forestry and fishing, 15,000 in construction, 9,000 in professional, scientific and technical services, 17,000 in the accommodation and food sectors, 12,000 in manufacturing, 10,000 in administration and support services, and 10,000 in retail.

While not all of these visa holders will be eligible for this one-off pathway to residence, a large number may qualify by meeting the three year or median wage criteria.

An eligibility checker is available on INZ’s website for guidance and is not a confirmation of eligibility.

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