2021 Resident Visa eligibility

The eligibility criteria for the 2021 Resident Visa focuses on people whose primary purpose for being in New Zealand is to work.

Partners and dependent children, including those currently outside New Zealand, can be included in residence applications.

Applications will open in two phases from 1 December 2021 for:

  • people who have already applied for residence under the Skilled Migrant or Residence from Work categories on or before 29 September 2021, or
  • people who have submitted a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest, and have included a dependent child in the Expression of Interest aged 17 years or older on 29 September 2021.

Apply now for Phase 1

Applications open from 1 March 2022 for remaining eligible applicants.

All applications must be submitted by 31 July 2022.

Eligibility under the settled, skilled or scarce streams

You must have met the criteria on 29 September 2021 and on the date you submit your application. You can be on a different eligible work visa than the one you held on 29 September 2021 on the date you apply for the 2021 Resident Visa.

To be eligible you must:

  • have been in New Zealand on 29 September 2021, and
  • be on an eligible visa on 29 September 2021, or have an application submitted for an eligible visa on  29 September 2021 that was later granted.

You must also meet ONE of these three criteria:

  • ('settled' criteria) have lived in New Zealand for the past three or more years, OR
  • ('skilled' criteria) earn at or above the median wage ($27 per hour), OR
  • (‘scarce’ criteria) work in a role on a scarce list.

If you meet the criteria for eligibility but were in Australia on 29 September 2021 and were unable to return to New Zealand by that date, you may be considered eligible but you must be in New Zealand when you apply.

If you leave New Zealand after submitting your application, your residence visa will not be able to be processed until you re-enter New Zealand. These applications would be put on hold. Entry to New Zealand is currently restricted to those who meet the border exception criteria.

Check if you are eligible to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa

Eligible visas

On 29 September all applicants must have been on (or have applied for and later granted) one of the following 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 of the Immigration Act (provided the applicant held any of the visas above within 6 months before being granted a Section 61 visa)
  • Some Critical Purpose Visitor Visas (CPVV)

Short-term visa holders are not eligible, such as visitors, students, working holiday makers, and seasonal workers like those on the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme or those who enter as short-term critical workers.

‘Settled’ criteria

To be eligible under the ‘settled’ criteria, you must have lived in New Zealand for the past three or more years and

  • 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).

The time spent in New Zealand does not need to be consecutive. There is no minimum amount within a calendar year.

Most people will be able to work out how long they have spent outside of New Zealand in the last three years, but if you need to check how much time you have spent in New Zealand, you can request your travel movements from the Immigration Contact Centre. Most eligible work visa holders are expected to meet the 'settled' criteria. INZ will use border movement records to decide if you meet this criteria.

The application form will ask about the time spent in New Zealand. You will not need to provide evidence of your 'settled' eligibility unless asked to do so by an immigration officer.

‘Skilled’ criteria

If you haven’t been here for three or more years you may be eligible under the ‘skilled’ criteria.

To meet the skilled criteria, you must be paid the median wage of $27 per hour or more on 29 September 2021. Your job must be genuine full time work for an average of at least 30 hours per week.

Pay rates will be calculated the same way as Skilled Migrant and Essential Skills applications.

If you are a self-employed contractor with a consistent history of contract work and a current contract you are eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa. This is similar to the Skilled Migrant Category.

Applying under the skilled criteria you will need to provide:

  • an employment agreement or a letter from your employer confirming the pay and hours, and
  • a full bank statement or an Inland Revenue summary of income or payslips.

The documents must show you were paid at least $27 per hour, both on 29 September and on the date you apply.

There is some flexibility if your pay or hours are temporarily reduced due to the business being affected by COVID-19 related restrictions.

More information may be requested by INZ when your application is being assessed to help confirm the requirements are met.

Applicants must also meet ‘skilled’ criteria at the time they apply. However, they may change to meet ‘scarce’ criteria at the time of application.

'Scarce' criteria

If you haven’t been here for three or more years and are not paid at least $27 per hour, you may be eligible under the ‘scarce’ criteria.

To be eligible under this criteria, on 29 September 2021 you must work in a job on a scarce list. These are:

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

Applying under the ‘scarce’ criteria you need to be in genuine full time work for an average of at least 30 hours per week.

You will need to provide this evidence:

  • an employment agreement or a letter from your employer confirming the occupation and hours, and
  • evidence of occupational registration in New Zealand (if required).

The list of ‘scarce’ occupations is available here on INZ’s website and in Appendix 11 of the INZ Operational Manual.

More information may be requested by INZ when your application is being assessed to help confirm the requirements are met.

There is some flexibility if your hours are temporarily reduced due to the business being affected by COVID-19 related restrictions.

Applicants must also meet ‘scarce’ criteria at the time they apply. However, they may also change to meet ‘skilled’ criteria at the time of application instead.

Critical Purpose Visa holders

If you arrive in New Zealand as a critical health worker or other critical worker for a longer term role you do not need to meet settled, skilled or scarce criteria if you:

  • held a visa as a critical health worker or other critical worker on 29 September 2021; or
  • were granted a visa as a critical health worker or other critical worker after 29 September 2021.

If you meet the above but move to an eligible work visa before applying for a 2021 Resident Visa, you will not have to meet the settled, skilled or scarce criteria.

Critical Purpose visa holders must arrive in New Zealand and apply for the 2021 Resident Visa before 31 July 2022 to be eligible. You must be in New Zealand to apply.

A Critical Purpose Visa must either be for:

  • a critical health worker for a longer term role (6 months or more); or
  • another critical worker for a long term role (more than 6 months).

Reasons you can travel to New Zealand

Critical Purpose visas include Critical Purpose Visitor Visas and eligible work visas granted or varied under the Critical Purpose instructions.

If you arrived in New Zealand on a Critical Purpose visa but had already moved onto an eligible work visa before or on 29 September 2021 you will need to meet one of the settled, skilled or scarce criteria.

Critical workers in a short term or seasonal role, including fishing crew, agriculture and horticulture mobile plant operators and shearers will not be eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa.

If you were granted a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa to complete a Competence Assessment Programme (CAP) and obtain occupational registration as a nurse in New Zealand, you must show you passed your CAP and secured occupational registration to be eligible, unless you transitioned onto an eligible work visa before or on 29 September 2021.

Dependent children aged 25 years and over

If you are a dependent child and were included in a skilled residence application or Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest as at 29 September 2021 but are now aged 25 years or older you will be eligible for a 2021 Resident Visa, if your parent is approved a 2021 Resident Visa and you meet the health and character requirements.

You must apply for a 2021 Resident Visa in your own right – you cannot be included in your parents’ application. However, you may submit your application as an attached document when your parents submit their online 2021 Resident Visa application

A separate application form is available for you to complete when your parents apply online.

2021 Resident Visa Application for a Dependent Child Aged 25 or Older (INZ 1275) PDF 304KB

If you are 25 years or older and cannot be included in your parents’ application as a dependent child, you may be eligible for a 2021 Resident Visa if:

  • You meet the dependent child requirements except for age;
  • You were included in a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest or skilled residence application submitted on or before 29 September 2021;
  • One of your parents is granted residence under the 2021 Resident Visa category; and
  • You meet the standard health and character requirements for the 2021 Resident Visa category.

An ‘aged out’ dependent child does not have to be in New Zealand to be eligible to apply.

No application fee or levy will be required for these applications.

If you are an ‘aged out’ dependent child who is overseas you will be able to enter New Zealand once your new 2021 Resident Visa has been granted. This is consistent with how offshore family members included as secondary applicants on an application will be treated.

Partnership requirements

Partners do not have to be in New Zealand to be included in an application.

Partnership requirements for these applications are in line with current residence requirements for partners of New Zealanders.

How we define a partnership

You and your partner will need to be able to show you have lived together in a genuine and stable relationship for at least 12 months.

INZ recognises the COVID-19 pandemic and current border restrictions have meant some partners have been separated for genuine reasons. In these cases, INZ will take a pragmatic approach and consider the relationship history and how the relationship has been maintained during that time.

A partner in a newly established relationship where the couple has not previously met or lived together will not be eligible as a partner under the 2021 Resident Visa.

Offshore partners granted a resident visa will be eligible to travel to New Zealand as they have a partnership-based visa with a New Zealand citizen or resident.

Health and character requirements

As well as meeting specific eligibility criteria, you must meet the health and character requirements for the 2021 Resident Visa.

Health

Health requirements for the 2021 Resident Visa will be limited but will capture medical conditions which are not eligible for medical waivers (tuberculosis, haemophilia, and conditions requiring dialysis or full-time care).

If you have provided a medical certificate within the last 36 months and were assessed as having an acceptable standard of health, you will not need to provide a further medical certificate. INZ will have this information available.

If your health has changed, or you were previously assessed as not having an acceptable standard of health, you must provide a new limited medical certificate.

INZ may request more health information if required.

Character

INZ will undertake New Zealand Police checks for all 2021 Resident Visa applicants aged 17 years or older, regardless of how long they have been in New Zealand. An overseas police certificate may be requested if more information is required.

INZ will also undertake National Security Checks (NSC) for all applicants who would normally require one as part of standard immigration processes and requirements.

INZ may also request more information or verification needed as part of the process.

Visa holders outside New Zealand

Visa holders outside New Zealand cannot be granted a 2021 Resident Visa, unless they are the partner or child of a principal applicant who is in New Zealand, or they are a dependent child 25 years or older applying in their own right.

The 2021 Resident Visa is designed to provide certainty for migrant workers inside New Zealand and businesses who have been playing a critical role in supporting our economy while the border remains largely closed.

Those outside New Zealand who are wanting to make New Zealand home can apply for visas when the Government is able to safely reduce border restrictions.

Student visa holders

Student visa holders (including PhD and masters students) are not eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa. There are no plans to broaden eligibility criteria

If you wish to remain in New Zealand after you complete your studies, you will need to apply for, and meet the criteria of the temporary or residence visa types available to you.