NZ 2021 Resident Visa

Well, isn’t this an interesting turn of events?

All the hard-line talk from the NZ government on migrants, then they open a simplified resident visa option.

Our initial feeling is that this is a positive move overall. However, it does exclude some people due to the particular visa type they held or applied for on the 29th of September 2021, which needs to be looked at.

As you can imagine, VisaAide is fielding a lot of queries about these changes. Therefore, if you want to discuss, you are best to book a FREE 15 minute phone call with us.

The team at VisaAide are ready to assist with manage your, or your employee’s application.

Please contact us for a quote today –  

Below is an outline of the new 2021 Resident visa and some important FAQs that looks at specific scenarios.  

IMPORTANT – The below information is based on the information on the INZ website and should not be relied upon to assess whether you are eligible or not for this new visa class.
Immigration NZ have not issued the immigration instructions as yet. Therefore, we do not have some important answers. It is dangerous to rely on the information on the INZ website as the wording is not always accurate.

All applicants must have met the criteria on the 29th of September 2021.

Primary Criteria
You must have:

  • Been in NZ on the 29th of September 2021, and
  • Held an eligible visa or have applied for an eligible visa before the 29th of September 2021

What visa do I need to hold?
You must hold an eligible visa or have applied for an eligible visa before the 29th of September 2021.These list of eligible visas are as follows:

  • 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).

Please note that those arriving in New Zealand between 30 September 2021 and 31 July 2022 on long-term critical purpose visas (for six months or more) may also be eligible for this new visa.

Visas not on the eligible list

  • Specific Purpose Work visas (which is a real shame)
  • Working Holiday
  • Student visa of any type
  • Limited
  • Visitor visa of any type
  • Partnership based visas
  • RSE or SSE
  • Trainee
  • Religious Worker

Those on Interim visas would have to be assessed on the application type they have applied for.

Those on General visitor visas that are trying to search for employment look to be out of luck.

There is no mention of a Partner of a Worker or NZder, which in a way makes some sense. However, we don’t see the point in ruling these visa holders out.

We don’t see the list specifically mentioning Variation of Conditions as many who have received a Variation of Conditions have this stated as their visa type. However, we assume that your Variation of Conditions visa will be eligible if the visa type you originally held is mentioned on the list.

Also, anyone who is unlawfully in NZ are not eligible.

Secondary Criteria
You must also meet one of the below criteria:

  • Have lived in NZ for 3 years or more, or
  • Earn at or above the median wages ($27 per hour), or
  • Work in a role on a Scarce List

Please note, for those applicants who meet the above, but are currently stranded in Australia and have been unable to return, may be considered eligible.

Have lived in NZ for 3 years or more
You must have arrived in NZ on or before the 29th of September 2018 and have spent at least 821 in NZ between the 29th of September 2018 and the 29th of September 2021 (inclusive).
The time spent in NZ does not need to be consecutive.

Earn at or above the median wages ($27 per hour)
You must have been paid $27 per hour or above on the 29th of September 2021.

Occupation on a Scarce List
You must have been working in an occupation on a Scarce List on the 29th of September 2021.
The Scarce List comprises of the following occupations:

  • 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

We assume that normal ANZSCO assessment applies to this criterion. We assume that your position would need to be assessed as a substantial match to the ANZSCO and that you may also need to be considered “Suitably Qualified”. This is in line with current criteria used in The Skilled Migrant Category assessment of Skilled Employment.

Application Process
Applications for this new 2021 Resident visa need to be lodged by the 31st of July 2022. They can be made online which will make providing relationship evidence much easier for family who are outside NZ.

You can apply from the 1st of December 2021 if:

  • you have already applied for residence under the Skilled Migrant and Residence from Work categories before 29th September 2021,


  • 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 29th September 2021.

All other eligible applicants can apply from the 1st of March 2022.  


Can I include family?
Yes, you can include a partner or dependent children in the application, whether they are in NZ or not.
It will be very interesting to see what amendments, if any, are made to the partnership criteria to allow partners who have not been living with the principal applicant while border restrictions have been in place, to meet the “living together” part of the criteria.

What are the application fees?
These is no indication as yet on what the application fee may be. We suspect that it may be between the Residence from Work Resident visa fee of NZ$1800 and the Skilled Migrant Fees of NZ$3240.
More should be known on this by the end of October 2021.

How long will it take?
An early indication is that application may take up to 12 months to be assessed. However, there is the potential for certain applications to be prioritised such as registered occupations, high salary, etc, which may see a much quicker processing time.

How can I renew my Work to Residence (Talent-Accredited Employer) Work visa if I don’t lodge a Residence from Work (Talent-Accredited Employer) Resident visa application?
At this stage, there is no confirmation that you would be able to apply for a Subsequent WTR work visa if you have not already lodged your resident visa.

Our current advice (as of the 30th of September 2021) advice is to continue to apply for your Residence from Work Resident visa so that you are same to apply renew your work visa.

There may be cases where you are safe to use an Essential Skills work visa as your renewal option. However, you would have to be certain that you meet the new 2021 Resident Visa criteria before doing this as you would be giving up on the Work to Residence pathway. Please contact us before considering this option.

I have already lodged a Resident visa. Will these continue to be assessed? Will I receive a refund if I withdraw? Is it worth applying for this new Resident visa if I already have a Resident visa lodged?
We assume all resident visa applications that have been lodged will continue to be assessed. However, if you have recently applied for a Resident visa, it might be worth considering whether to keep this application going or withdraw and lodge under the new 2021 Resident visa criteria.

There is no guarantee that you would receive a refund on any resident visa applications that have been lodged. However, you are more likely to have a chance at a refund if the application was lodged recently – within the last few months.

Will there be an ANZSCO assessment for Scarce List applications?
We assume that your position would need to be assessed as a substantial match to the ANZSCO. However, there are indications that you may not be required to prove that you are “suitably qualified” for the position which is where you provide evidence of your relevant work experience or relevant qualification that meets the ANZSCO requirements.

Do I need to be a certain age?
There is no indication of an age cut-off so far.

Am I, or my family, required to meet English?
All indications are that there will be no English criteria to meet.

I was not earning $27 per hour on the 29th of September 2021, but I had a current offer off employment for $27 per hour on that day. Will I meet the criteria?
Unfortunately, we will need to see what the instructions specifically state about this situation before we will be able to confirm.

What if I have a current Section 61 request being assessed?
The visa that is approved from the Section 61 request would need to be considered as an Eligible visa from the above list – Work visa, and you would have need to have held an Eligible visa within 6 months of the Section 61 request decision.

For more information, please contact us.

Yours in immigration,

Cameron Gray
NZ LIA 201301155

About the author

Cameron is highly experienced in visa applications and spent over a decade as a Visa Officer for the Australian Consulate General in New Zealand. He is a licensed immigration adviser for New Zealand is also an Australian Registered Migration Agent.

Cameron has extensive experience with assisting NZ businesses to look after their migrant teams as well as managing approval in principal and accreditation applications. He also specialises in employer assisted NZ work visas, as well as SMC and other residence visas.

Cameron Gray
IAA 201301155
MARN 1791918

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