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Overview
As many will be aware, the Minister of Immigration recently announced the introduction of a new residence visa pathway. The new visa, referred to as the ‘2021 Resident Visa’ is primarily aimed at providing residence to migrants who are currently in New Zealand and providing certainty to New Zealand businesses who are reliant on them.

Immigration New Zealand has now released the policy instructions for the new 2021 Resident Visa and individual eligibility as well when an individual can apply can now be confirmed. Further detail is provided below.

Eligibility Criteria
The key requirements an individual must meet in order to be eligible to apply for residence under the 2021 Resident Visa category (either in the first or second cohort) are as follows:

  • Have been in New Zealand on an eligible work visa (or have applied for one and are subsequently granted that visa) on 29 September 2021; or
  • Arrive in New Zealand on a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa (CPVV) as a critical health worker or other critical worker for more than 6 months before 31 July 2022 (additional requirements apply to nurses granted a CPVV to travel to and obtain occupational registration in New Zealand)

And meet:

  • The settled criteria in New Zealand; or
  • The skilled criteria; or
  • The scarce

Principal applicants in Australia may also be eligible if they left New Zealand between 6 April 2021 and 23 July 2021 (inclusive).

Dependent family in New Zealand and overseas can be included in the residence application as secondary applicants if they meet dependency requirements. Dependent children aged 25 and over can also be included in some circumstances.

Settled Criteria
Applicants applying under the settled criteria must have lived in New Zealand for three or more years as of 29 September 2021. This means they must have first arrived in New Zealand on or before 29 September 2018.

Applicants must also have spent at least 821 days in New Zealand between 29 September 2018 and 29 September 2021 (inclusive). Immigration New Zealand will use their travel records to determine whether applicants meet the settled criteria.

Skilled Criteria
Applicants applying under the skilled criteria must normally be paid at or above $27/hour and have been paid this on 29 September 2021 and at the time their residence application is submitted.

The $27/hour requirement excludes employment-related allowances and bonuses and is calculated on base remuneration only.

To support an application for residence under the skilled criteria, applicants will need to evidence they meet the hourly rate through submission of:

  • An employment agreement or letter from their employer confirming their pay and hours of work; and
  • A full bank statement or Inland Revenue summary of income or pay slips

Applicants who received a pay rise effective after 29 September 2021 are not eligible under the skilled criteria.

Scarce Criteria
To be eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa under the scarce criteria, applicants must have been working in a scarce occupation on 29 September 2021 and at the time their residence application is submitted. A scarce occupation is defined as:

  • A role on the Long-Term Skill Shortage List
  • A role on the specified primary sector roles list
  • A role that requires occupational registration in the health or education sector
  • Other critical health care worker or personal carer roles as defined by policy including paramedics, aged and disabled carers and workers who install, operate, or maintain medical equipment

To support an application for residence under the scarce criteria, applicants will need to provide the following evidence:

  • An employment agreement or letter from their employer confirming their occupation and hours of work; and
  • Evidence of occupational registration in New Zealand (if applicable)

Health and Character Requirements
Acceptable standard of health and good character requirements apply to all residence visa category applications and the 2021 Resident Visa pathway is no different. However, the evidential requirements have been relaxed to allow for faster visa processing.

Health Requirements
Applicants will need to submit a Limited medical certificate, obtained via an authorised panel physician only if:

  • They have not submitted a medical certificate to Immigration New Zealand in the last 36 months; or
  • There have been changes to their standard of health since their previous medical was submitted; or
  • Their standard of health was previously assessed by Immigration New Zealand as not meeting requirements

Character Requirements
Applicants are not required to provide police certificates with their application unless specifically requested by Immigration New Zealand.
Immigration New Zealand will obtain a police certificate from the New Zealand Police on an applicant’s behalf during the processing of the application.

Government Application Fee
Immigration New Zealand have confirmed the application fee for a 2021 Resident Visa will be NZD2,160 including GST.

Applicants will only be required to pay this fee once an in-principal decision (Approval in Principle) has been made on their application. It does not need to be made on application.

Once an in-principal decision has been made, applicants who have applied for residence under the Skilled Migrant or Residence from Work categories will be given the option to:

  • Withdraw their Skilled Migrant Category application and use the fee from that application to cover the cost of the 2021 Resident Visa with a refund of the difference; or
  • Withdraw their Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest or Residence from Work application and use the fee from that application towards the 2021 Resident Visa with the difference payable by the applicant before the application can be finalised

Applicants who chose not to withdraw their existing application will need to pay a fee of NZD1,330 for the processing of their 2021 Resident visa application.

How and when to apply
The application form for the 2021 Resident Visa will be available online from 1 December 2021.

Applications will be processed in two cohorts with the first cohort of applications being accepted from 1 December 2021 and the second from 1 March 2022. All applicants must be submitted by 31 July 2022. Applications submitted after this date will be declined.

Whether a migrant has already applied for residence under the Skilled Migrant or Residence from Work category or has submitted an Expression of Interest with a dependent child included in that application aged 17 or older, will determine whether they are eligible to apply in the first or second cohort.

Processing Timeframes and current Resident visa applications
Immigration New Zealand expect to process applications for residence under this new category within 12 months of receiving an application.

This means that some migrants who have already submitted a residence application are likely to obtain residence earlier if they submit a new application under the 2021 Resident Visa pathway than awaiting an outcome on their Skilled Migrant or Residence from Work category application. It also means that individuals holding Work to Residence visas under the Talent (Accredited Employer) and Long-Term Skill Shortage List instructions do not necessarily have to wait the 24 months normally required to be eligible to apply for New Zealand residence.

Given the Minister’s confirmation that selections of Expressions of Interest under the Skilled Migrant category will remain suspended until at least 31 July 2022, migrants who have submitted an Expression of Interest are also likely to benefit from applying for residence under the new category instead of waiting for selections to resume.

Next Steps
We recommend those individuals that are eligible to apply on 1 December 2021 commence their document preparation now.

Immigration New Zealand have confirmed that applications received from individuals in December 2021 who are not eligible under the first cohort must be declined. Therefore, those individuals who are not eligible until 1 March 2021 should wait until the new year before commencing the process.

Actions they can take in advance of their eligibility is:

  • Ensure they hold an up-to-date passport valid for at least 12 months
  • Obtain full unabridged birth certificates for them and their dependent family members (if not already held)
  • If they wish to include a dependent partner or spouse in their application, gather relationship supporting documents to evidence living together and genuine and stable relationship requirements are met

If you have any questions on the updates provided or have employees who are interested in assessing their eligibility and applying for residence under the new 2021 Resident Visa pathway, please do not hesitate to contact us.

DISCLAIMER This information is current as of date of publication and subject to change. The information contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It should not be used as legal advice. To the extent permissible by law, Ajuria Lawyers and its associated entities shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, defects or misrepresentations in the information or for any loss or damage suffered by persons who use or rely on such information. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Have more specific questions about your visa? Get in touch with Ajuria Lawyers today.

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Author Karen Justice

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