new zealand visa advisers blog post


To recognise the immense 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 Government has today announced a new one-off residence category, the 2021 Resident Visa. This is a celebration worthy news release. 

It means that a large number of work visa holders will now be able to remain in New Zealand permanently. It will be available to those who have already submitted 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 (EOI), as well as many other work visa holders who may not have been eligible through the current skilled residence pathways.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) expects that around 165,000 migrants currently in New Zealand will be eligible for residence under this new category. This Resident Visa will be open for applications in two phases, with the first group of people able to apply from 1 December 2021.

INZ  is committed to ensuring the application and fee process is as easy as possible for the applicants. The processing of these resident visa applications are a priority for INZ over the next 12 months.

New 2021 Resident Visa

Some work visa holders and Critical Purpose Visitor Visa (CPVV) holders currently in New Zealand may be eligible to apply for residence under this new category. Those arriving in New Zealand between 30 September 2021 and 31 July 2022 on long-term critical purpose visas (for six months or more) for this new visa. Partners and dependents can be included as part of these residence applications.

Applications will be open in two phases from 1 December 2021 for some eligible applicants and from 1 March 2022 for remaining eligible applicants.

All applications must be submitted by 31 July 2022.


Applicants must have met the criteria on 29 September 2021.

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 before 29 September 2021 that is later granted.

You must also meet one of the three 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 scarce list.

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.

Eligible visas

All applicants must be on an eligible visa. These are:

  • 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 granted under Section 61 (provided the applicant held another eligible visa type within 6 months of being granted a Section 61 visa)
  • Some holders of a CPVV:
    • Critical health workers for longer term roles (6 months or longer), and
    • Other critical workers for long term roles (more than 6 months).

Short-term visa holders are not eligible, 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.

Partners and dependent children, including those currently outside New Zealand, can be included in residence applications.

All applicants must meet the heath and character requirements for this Resident Visa. Overseas police certificates will not be required unless specifically requested by an Immigration Officer. Limited medical certificates and chest x-ray certificates may be required for some people. INZ may request further information as part of the application process.

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.

Critical Purpose visitor holders

Two groups of Critical Purpose visitor visa holders will be eligible, as long as you arrive in New Zealand and apply before 31 July 2022.

  • Critical health workers for longer term roles (6 months or longer), and
  • Other critical workers for long term roles (more than 6 months).

If you are in a short term or seasonal role on a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa, including fishing crew, agricultural and horticulture mobile plant operators, and shearers, you will not be eligible.

Applicants who have lived in New Zealand for three or more years

To be eligible under this criteria, you must have lived in New Zealand for the past 3 or more years and

  • have arrived in New Zealand on or before 29 September 2018, and
  • have spent a minimum of 821 days in New Zealand between 29 September 2018 and 29 September 2021 (inclusive).

The time spent in New Zealand does not need to be consecutive. There is no minimum amount within a calendar year.

If you need to check how much time you have spent in New Zealand, you are able to request your travel movements from INZ.

Applicants earning at or above the median wage

To be eligible under this criteria, you must be paid the median wage of NZD $27 per hour or above on 29 September 2021.

Applicants working in a job on a scarce list

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

Application process

This Resident Visa will be open for applications in two phases, with the first group of people able to apply from 1 December 2021.

From 1 December 2021 you can apply if:

  • you have already applied for residence under the SMC and RFW categories before 29 September 2021, or
  • you have submitted a SMC EOI, 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 must be made by 31 July 2022 and must be submitted online. More information about fees and the application process will be available by the end of October.

Those who are eligible to apply from 1 December 2021 will receive an email from INZ by the end of October with further information.

Processing timeframes

It is expected the majority of applications will be processed within 12 months, with most being processed much faster.

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