On 30 September 2021, the Government announced a new one-off residence category, the 2021 Resident Visa.

If you are a work visa holder in New Zealand or a critical purpose visitor visa holder you may be eligible for residence under the new 2021 Resident Visa. Some critical purpose visa holders arriving in New Zealand between 30 September 2021 and 31 July 2022 on long term visas may also be eligible for the new visa.​

Who is eligible?

The basic requirement to be met is that:​

  • you should have been in New Zealand on 29 Sep 2021 on any one of the 'Eligible Visas', or​​

  • you should have applied for an 'Eligible Visa' on or before 29 Sep 2021 which is later granted.​

Once you meet the basic requirement, then, you need to meet one of the three criteria defined by Immigration New Zealand as ‘Settled’, ‘Skilled’ and ‘Scarce’.

'Settled', 'Skilled' & 'Scarce'

To be eligible under the ‘Settled’ criteria, you must:

  • 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). 

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

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

To be eligible under the ‘Scarce’ criteria, on 29 September 2021 you must have been working in a job that is on a 'Scarce List'. There are four 'Scarce Lists':​

Jobs on the Long Term Skill Shortage List

Jobs requiring occupational registration in the health or education sector

Personal carer and other critical health workers

Specified primary sector jobs

Eligible Visas

  • 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 Critical Purpose Visitor Visas (CPVV):

    • Critical health workers for longer-term roles (6 months or longer), and

    • Other critical workers for long-term roles (more than 6 months).

Application Process

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

Phase 1

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.​

Phase 2​

From 1 March 2022, all other eligible applicants can apply, including all others who have submitted a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest.​

The last date to submit these applications is 31 July 2022.​

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

The principal applicant is the temporary work visa holder applying for the 2021 Resident Visa. Secondary applicants are any partners or dependants included in the application. 

Principal applicants can meet the skilled criteria on one date and the scarce criteria on another and still be eligible.  

Principal applicants must have been in New Zealand or Australia on 29 September 2021, or subsequently granted an eligible Critical Purpose visa. Those in Australia must have left New Zealand between 6 April 2021 and 23 July 2021 (inclusive). All applicants must be in New Zealand to apply. 

Partners and dependent children in New Zealand and overseas can be included in applications as secondary applicants. ​

Dependent children aged 25 and over that were included in a skilled residence or Expression of Interest (EOI) on or before 29 September cannot be included as a dependent child in a 2021 Resident Visa application. However, they can submit their own application as an attached document when they submit their online 2021 Resident Visa application. No additional fee will be charged for the child.  

They can be granted their own 2021 Resident visa if: 

  • they meet standard health and character requirements, and  

  • a parent is granted a 2021 Resident Visa.    

Dependent children overseas who are granted a 2021 Resident Visa are exempt from our border restrictions and may travel to New Zealand. ​

To approve a 2021 Resident Visa for a partner, INZ must be satisfied that the couple have lived together in a genuine and stable relationship for 12 months or more during their relationship. 

INZ will consider the relationship history of couples separated by COVID-19 border restrictions or other factors when assessing applications for partners. 

A partner will not be eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa if they have not met or lived with the principal applicant. Current resident visa requirements apply.

Cost: INZ Fee​ 

The total cost of the 2021 Resident Visa is NZD$2,160 including GST.   

This includes a NZD$1,330 application fee and NZD$830 immigration levy.  

Applicants will not need to pay another fee when they apply for a 2021 Resident Visa. 

However, once an in-principle decision has been made on the 2021 Resident Visa application, the application fee will need to be paid.   

At this point, for those who choose to withdraw their SMC application, the fee from that application will be used to cover the cost of the 2021 Resident Visa and the difference will be refunded.   

As the RfW and SMC EOI application fees are less than the 2021 Resident Visa application, these applicants who choose to withdraw their earlier application will need to pay the difference in the fees before an application is finalised. 

Those who choose not to withdraw their earlier applications will need to pay the NZD$1330 application fee for the 2021 Resident Visa. This is to cover the cost of processing both applications. ​Those who have paid a levy will not need to pay it again. 

2021 Interim Visa

INZ will grant interim visas of up to 12 months to 2021 Resident Visa applicants awaiting a decision to ensure they remain lawful while their applications are processed.

Key points to note:​

  • The 2021 Interim Visa will have the same rights as the applicant’s current temporary visa.

  • There would be no travel conditions applied to the 2021 interim visa.

  • Applicants on Employer Specific work visas like Essential Skills Work Visa holders would not be able to change their conditions of work, including their employer when they are on the 2021 Interim Visa.

  • Work to Residence visa holders whose visa may be expiring while their 2021 Resident Visa application is being processed and have a pathway to Residence from Work, need to consider being on the 2021 Interim Visa, as their 2021 Interim Visa would not allow them to apply for a Residence from Work application, when they become eligible; and they cannot renew a further Work to Residence Visa in the future as well.