Tuesday, June 18, 2024

85,000 new Kiwis fly through simplified visa path

More than a third of eligible migrants are now New Zealand residents thanks to the Government’s one-off, simplified path to residence, providing a way forward for migrant families and certainty for New Zealand businesses, Minister of Immigration Michael Wood said today.

“This is great news for our migrant families and kiwi businesses,” Minister Wood said.

“The 2021 Resident Visa gives migrants certainty about their future here, allowing them to continue to put down roots. It is helping reunite many families who were separated by the border restrictions that prevented COVID-19 entering the community.”

85,000 out of 215,000 applicants had their 2021 Resident Visa approved in the eight months since the application process opened – with 95% of phase one applications now processed, the Minister confirmed.

“These people have key skills for our businesses and economy, including 3,626 health workers, 6,249 construction workers and 524 teachers, people who want to be here and have certainty about their ability to stay here and make New Zealand their home,” he said.

“The 2021 Resident Visa is part of the Government’s immigration rebalance, to simplify immigration settings and address immediate skill shortages in New Zealand.

“These new Kiwis help us relieve labour pressures. Employers will now have the opportunity to retain their settled and skilled migrant workers, reflecting the critical part they play in our economy, essential workforce and communities.

“Over the coming months we can look forward to thousands more critical workers committing their future to New Zealand. The interest in the 2021 Resident Visa has exceeded expectations. It shows that New Zealand is an attractive place to live and stay for migrants who will help secure our economic future,” Mr Wood said.


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

To be eligible, the principal applicant must have been in New Zealand on 29 September 2021 and must hold or have applied for (and subsequently be granted) one of the eligible work visas. They must also meet one of the following criteria:

  • lived in New Zealand 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.

The visa was also 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 could also include their partners and dependents in their application.


The application process for the 2021 Resident Visa was simplified to deal with applications as quickly as possible. Applicants still needed to meet health requirements and pass police and security checks, as is required under the current residence application process.

Each application had a series of checks which needed to be done, so people should not expect an even flow of approvals. Decisions will not necessarily be made based on when the application was released or the principal applicant’s visa expiry date. The time taken to make a decision depends on a number of factors, including:

  • how long each task takes to complete
  • if manual assessments are required
  • if Immigration New Zealand has to wait for information from an applicant


Applications for the 2021 Resident Visa were accepted from 1 December 2021 to 31 July 2022 in two phases:

  • From 1 December 2021, people who have submitted a Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) or Residence from Work (RfW) application could apply, as well as those with dependent children 17 years or older who currently have an SMC Expression of Interest (EOI) submitted. 
  • From 1 March 2022, all other eligible applicants, including any others in the SMC Expression of Interest pool, could apply.

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