Indian migrant workers major beneficiaries of Residence Visa programme

Venkat Raman

Venkat Raman

Auckland, September 30, 2021

Scope for partners and dependents for inclusion
Changes promise residency status to 165,000 migrants
Simplified process to cover a wide range of workers from December 1, 2021

                                             

                                                                                   Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi

Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers of Indian origin, waiting to become permanent residents will now have an opportunity to fulfil their ambition as the government introduces a new, one’-off Residence Policy today.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has announced significant changes to the immigration system, the most insignificant of which is a simplified process of granting about 165,000 residence visas to migrants currently in New Zealand.

This would include more than 5000 health and aged care workers, about 9000 primary industry workers, and more than 800 teachers.

They would however be required to comply with the health, police and security criteria.

Certainty for migrant families

Mr Faafoi said that the government is providing a way forward for migrant families who have been disrupted by Covid-19 while ensuring businesses have the certainty they need to plan for their future and help in economic recovery.

“The changes give migrants certainty about their future here, allowing them to continue putting down roots, and will help reunite families separated by the border restrictions that prevent Covid-19 from entering the community. We acknowledge the uncertainty and difficulties caused to the migrant community. We have been carefully working through this residence option to offer certainty they need to truly make New Zealand their home,” he said.

Mr Faafoi said that the 2021 Resident Visa will also help in attracting and retaining the skills New Zealand businesses need to help relieve labour pressures caused by Covid-19.

“This is something employers have asked for and we are delivering. 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,” he said.

                                                                                       Scope for skilled migrants and essential workers -Auckland Airport (RNZ Photo by Liu Chen)

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) estimates that the eligible visa holders will include more than 5000 health and aged care workers, around 9000 primary industry workers, and more than 800 teachers. There are also about 15,000 construction and 12,000 manufacturing workers on relevant visa types, some of whom will be eligible for the one-off pathway.

“These people have all played an important role in keeping our country moving over the last 18 months,” Kris Faafoi said.

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

The eligibility criteria

To be eligible, the principal applicant must have been in New Zealand on September 29, 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 will also be available for those who enter New Zealand as critical workers, and their families, for roles six months or longer until July 31, 2022.

 
Migrants add value- Chart Web


Partners, dependents included

Visa holders can also include their partners and dependents in their applications.

According to Mr Faafoi, the application process for the 2021 Resident Visa has been simplified to deal with applications as quickly as possible. Applicants must however meet health requirements and pass police and security checks, as required under the current residence application process. The one-off arrangement for the new 2021 Resident Visa would see a majority of applications granted within a year of the category opening.

“The government is committed to rebalancing the immigration system for those who can come to work, study and live in New Zealand once our borders re-open. The 2021 Resident Visa is part of the process and this initiative addresses that immediate issue while work on the immigration rebalance looks longer-term at preparing for the eventual reopening of New Zealand’s borders.

“But our message to industries and employers remains clear; they need to look for ways to build resilient workforces and to attract, train and retain local workers and reduce their reliance on low-skilled migrant labour,” Mr Faafoi said.

Applications for the 2021 Resident Visa will open in two phases: on December 1, 2021 and March 1, 2022.

INZ will contact visa holders who are eligible by the end of October 2021 to apply from  December 1, 2021 with more information about the application process.

About the 2021 Resident Visa

The 2021 Resident Visa covers most work-related visas, including Essential Skills, Work to Residence, and Post Study Work visas. People will need to hold, or have already applied for, and are subsequently granted, one of the eligible work visas. Workers entering New Zealand through the critical worker border exceptions before July 31, 2022 for roles longer than six months will also be eligible for this one-off residence pathway.

Visa holders must be in New Zealand to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa.

The pathway does not include visas that are intended for a shorter stay, such as visitors, students, working holidaymakers, and Recognised Seasonal Employer workers.

There is a large number of temporary migrants on relevant visas working across a range of sectors who may be eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa, including around 10,000 in the healthcare and social assistance sector, 9000 in agriculture, forestry and fishing, 15,000 in construction, 9000 in professional, scientific and technical services, 17000 in the accommodation and food sectors, 12,000 in manufacturing, 10,000 in administration and support services, and 10,000 in retail. While not all of these visa holders will be eligible for this one-off pathway to residence, a large number may qualify by meeting the three-year or median wage criteria.

Applications for the 2021 Resident Visa will be accepted from December 1, 2021 to July 31, 2022 in two phases: From December 1, 2021, people who have submitted a Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) or Residence from Work (RfW) application can apply, as well as those with dependent children 17 years or older who currently have an SMC Expression of Interest (EOI) submitted. 

All other eligible applicants, including any others in the SMC Expression of Interest pool, can apply from March 1, 2022.

To prioritise the processing of the 2021 Resident Visa, selections from the Skilled Migrant Category Expressions of Interest pool will remain closed until the 2021 Resident Visa closes on July 31, 2022, but applicants who meet the criteria in the EOI pool will be able to apply for this visa from December 1, 2021 or from March 1, 2022, depending on the category.

An eligibility checker is available on INZ’s website. The checker is only a guide and not a confirmation of eligibility.

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