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Settled, Skilled and Scarce. The new 2021 Residence Visa

Settled, Skilled and Scarce. The new 2021 Residence Visa

An estimated 165,000 people will gain New Zealand residence under a new one-off residence category designed for work visa holders who are deemed to be settled, skilled and scarce. 


In the main, these are people who were in New Zealand on 29 September 2021 and on a qualifying work visa, or who will arrive in New Zealand before the end of July 2022 on a long term critical purpose visa. In addition, they will have lived in New Zealand for three years (settled), or are paid $27 per hour (skilled), or their job is one listed on the scarce list (scarce). 


Applications open on 1 December 2021 for a limited category of folk followed by 1 March 2022 for the remainder. Each group of applications close at the end of July 2022. Partners and children will be included even if they are currently offshore, although the logistics of when those offshore members can actually arrive is yet to be determined. 


This category is most generous and contrary to what has actually been occurring given existing residence applications are progressing at a snail’s pace and Invitations to Apply For Residence are on hold. Along with applications on hold, all manner of applications having been left unattended due to lockdown restrictions and 50,000 offshore applications have been lapsed. Additionally, IT issues have seen work visa applications lodged during August revert back to paper-based, and there have of course been delays in updating new visa expiry dates to the system.


While promising a fast online application process even the Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi has voiced concern about Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) ability to deliver a timely service.  Observing INZ failings during a time when individuals and businesses need to step up has been personally frustrating and a great many people have been harmed. The pandemic is difficult however, my decades of experience within INZ tells me they can deliver a timely quality service if the right people have the will.  


The 2021 Residence Visas will not immediately bring additional people into the workforce, it will, however, help to retain existing migrant workers, and give some relief to their employers and industry leaders even if the processing is cumbersome and time-consuming. 


Nevertheless, this is a wonderful opportunity for so many. Share the news and if you, your employee or friend is likely to qualify, best they have their unique situation assessed without delay by a fully Licensed New Zealand Immigration Adviser. 


Disclaimer: Mary Noonan is Heartland Immigration Ltd’s Managing Director. Her views expressed in this article are not intended to replace the professional service provided to individual migrants by a Licensed or Registered Immigration Adviser or Migration Agent.