The Government has opened its first round of applications for New Zealand’s new 2021 Resident Visa, in a bid to smooth the country's residency pathway.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced the scheme in September, following mounting criticism of the Government over its backlog for expressions of interest for the Skilled Migrant Category visa.
Applications to get the 2021 Resident Visa will open in two phases, the first of which opens on Wednesday morning at 6am, while the second will open on March 1, 2022.
The scheme is available to most work-related visa holders. These include Essential Skills, Work to Residence, and Post Study Work visas. Their immediate family members would also be eligible for residency under the scheme.
It’s estimated up to 15,000 migrants who have lived in New Zealand for the last three years or who work in skilled or scarce jobs, and were in the country on 29 September 2021, will be able to apply in this first round.
“This one-off pathway provides certainty for a great many migrant families who have faced disruption because of Covid-19 and it will help retain the skills New Zealand businesses need to support the economic recovery,” said Faafoi.
To be eligible for this first phase a person must also have already submitted either a: Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) application; or Residence from Work application; or SMC Expression of Interest (EOI) which includes dependent children who were 17 years or older as at 29 September 2021.
Faafoi said the Government is expecting “high demand” for the visa.
“We recognise that some of these individuals have been waiting for residence for a long time and are eager to get their applications in quickly, but they have plenty of time to apply.
It’s estimated that around another 150,000 migrants could be eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa in the second phase which opens for applications from 1 March 2022.
Applications for both phases will be open until 31 July 2022.