2021 Resident Visa Category – the second batch is starting in March 2022.

2021 Resident Visa Category – Thousands become New Zealand Residents under this new category and the second batch is starting in March 2022.

By Zamelia McGarrigle

General Manager & Licensed Immigration Adviser QDI Group
Email: zamelia@qdigroup.co.nz Phone: 09-3907957

It has been nearly 6 months since Immigration New Zealand announced this one off resident visa for those who are eligible. How has that gone so far?

Around 5000 people have become residents under a fast–tracked government scheme launched in December 2021, with my clients from the Philippines, India, China and Korea topping the approvals. The majority of my clients are from the Philippines and they have been celebrating the good news, especially when their residence visa approval arrived just before Christmas.

One of my clients, from The Philippines, finally became a New Zealand resident after 12 years of living here and working alongside me since 2010. Excellent news for both of us, indeed. I am so pleased to be able to help her and to be with her throughout her journey from the Philippines all the way to New Zealand.

Now we have some ideas about the process, progress and what we need to know to keep carrying on for the next batch in March 2021. Almost 35,000 people have so far applied for the one-off residence visa and up to 165,000 may be eligible next month. Migrants are eligible if they are settled (three years-plus in New Zealand, including a minimum number of days), a skilled worker (based on wages) or scarce (in short supply).

From Immigration records and statistics, migrants from India topped the approvals under this category on the first month of its launch, followed by South Africa, the Philippines, the UK and Sri Lanka. One in five applications has been rejected so far.

Next month the second batch of this category will start – with hopes that systems will work better than they did initially back in December. But the risk remains the same and here is what you need to know should you decide to apply by yourself. So, my advice is to mitigate your risk by preparing your application meticulously. This is the only chance that you have and it is worth investing in a good Licensed Immigration Adviser to help prepare a comprehensive submission for you and your family.

I often tell my clients that you can always find money but time, once you lose it, you can’t get back. This is not the time to gamble on your future. Be aware of the points below if you decide to prepare your own application.

  • Stay Calm – No need to panic, no need to rush to fill in your application form. Read it carefully and ensure that you understand each of the questions, especially when it comes to health, character or family members. You may think that it is not that important, just a quick tick here and there and done. But for INZ, whatever you disclose there could count against you if it is incorrect and appears wrong, vague or evasive. Worse still, INZ may take your answer as “false and misleading information” and subsequently decline your application.
  • Your visa status – You can only apply for this new residence visa if you hold an eligible visa. But how about if your visa expires at any time between now and when you lodge your application? If you have not managed to get a new replacement visa under the eligible category, you are no longer qualified to apply for your residency visa. That could be a disaster, so don’t make this mistake.
  • Your job – Great! Your job is on the INZ ‘scarcity’’ list. But hang on, INZ will go one step further to assess whether your job description/tasks match the ones on their list. Apart from that, INZ will also cross check your previous records/applications and all need to be consistent. If you declare a different position from earlier documents and there appear to be anomalies – e.g. a job that is not on the ‘scarce lists’ – then you won’t qualify.
  • Hourly rate – You may have been working in a full-time position with a $27/hour wage on 20 September 2021. That figure has to be clearly reflected in your employment contract and consistent with your payslip data. If not then your application most likely won’t meet INZ’s ‘Skilled’ criteria.
  • Lost your job – If you have lost your job that previously matched one on either the ‘skilled’ or ‘scarce’ occupation lists, then unfortunately your journey ends here. You do not meet the requirements and cannot apply under this category. 
  • Your employer – You must make sure that your employer complies with all Department of Labour legislations, IRD obligations and is classed as a genuine employer. INZ can decline your application if they think that your employer is not genuine.
  • Your partner – In this application you can include your partner and children, even if they are currently overseas. You have to provide evidence of living together in a genuine and stable relationship for at least one year. INZ will look at any evidence you provided previously and the reasons for your current separation and may decide to exclude your partner from your Resident Visa application.
  • Time in New Zealand – As far as you can remember you have been in New Zealand for ages and surely meet the requirement of 821 days or more. But, check again and make sure that you have spent 821 days or more in NZ between 29 September 2018 and 29 September 2021 – and that you arrived in the country for the first time on or before September 29, 2018. If not then you won’t meet INZ’s ‘settled’ criteria.
  • Leave New Zealand – If you must leave New Zealand before you lodge your visa application for whatever reason and then you can’t get back to New Zealand by 31 July 2022, you may risk losing the chance to apply for this visa.
  • Being in New Zealand – A step developing from the above point. You already lodged your application and need to leave New Zealand because of a family emergency, for example. INZ won’t be able to decide your application until you return to New Zealand. With the current situation, there is little or no certainty. Therefore, think carefully about everything and whether you want to risk probably the best chance that you may have to gain residency. Consider all factors and assess the risks versus rewards, including potentially waiting a long time coupled with much hard work over the years.

I wish you all the best and remember, this could be the best or only chance you will be offered, so take your time and get your submission right.