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29 October 2021

2021 Resident Visa - the finer details

Immigration New Zealand today released further information regarding the process for applying for a 2021 Resident Visa.


Our earlier article is linked here, which provides an overall summary of eligibility. Below, we have set out the key clarification points that have come out of today’s announcement and policy release.


General clarification points

As a very brief reminder, to be eligible you must:

- have been in NZ on 29 September and when you apply;

- have held an eligible visa on 29 September and when you apply; and

- meet one of three tests: settled, skilled or scarce.  


Those who, as at 29 September, had an Skilled Migrant or Residence from Work residence application lodged, or a Skilled Migrant EOI submitted which included an adult child (17 years or older), will be eligible to apply from 1 December.


Everyone else will be eligible to apply from 1 March.


Invitations will be emailed to those eligible to apply in December, but this is unlikely to be foolproof as INZ’s system will still miss some individuals. An emailed invitation isn’t a requirement to be able to apply however; you just need to meet the criteria above.


You must have held an eligible visa on both the 29th of September and also when you submit the residence application, but you can change your visa in the meantime, provided it is to another eligible visa.


No other visa categories will be added to the list of eligible visas and no discretion will be given regarding the policy parameters.


You must be in New Zealand to apply. If you depart New Zealand after you submit your application, it will not be processed until you re-enter New Zealand, due to processing of visas for offshore individuals still being suspended.


If you are applying under either the skilled or scarce tests, you need to be in full time employment (30 hours or more) but there will be some allowances made for those who are on temporarily reduced hours due to COVID-19 related restrictions.


You can switch between the skilled test and scarce test, meaning you can be eligible under one test on the 29th of September, and the other when you apply. But you would need to prove that you were eligible under each test, on the two dates in question.


INZ has indicated that their goal is to have 80% of these applications decided within 12 months, but with most hopefully decided much sooner.


Different requirements for holders of critical worker visas

Those who held or were granted a visa after 29 September to enter New Zealand as a critical health worker or other critical worker with a visa duration greater than 6 months, will be eligible to apply without meeting one of the three tests.


They can also move onto another class of eligible visa after 29 September without needing to meet the tests. If they have already moved onto a different visa by 29 September, the normal criteria apply.


They must be in New Zealand to apply before the category closes on 31 July 2022.


Dependent children

Dependent children aged 25 years and over are eligible to obtain residence through this policy but only if they were already included in a Skilled Migrant or Residence from Work residence application, or a submitted Skilled Migrant EOI, as at 29 September.


Approval is reliant on their parent’s 2021 Resident Application being approved, the dependent child meeting health and character requirements and showing that they still meet the definition of “dependent child” but for their age.


The dependent child does not need to be in New Zealand to apply.


They will need to append a separate application form to their supporting parent’s application.



Partners do not need to be in New Zealand to be included in an application but usual partnership requirements need to be met.


This means that you need to demonstrate that you and your partner are “living together in a genuine and stable relationship” but INZ will consider reasons for any justifiable period of separation, which would include being separated due to current border restrictions.


The threshold for partners to be granted residence as secondary applicants is proof of at least 12 months cumulatively spent living together.


In cases where partners have not yet spent 12 months living together, the case officer will still assess the relationship regardless. Where they are satisfied that the couple are living together in a partnership that is genuine and stable, but the time spent living together is less than 12 months, they will proceed to grant residence to the principal applicant (provided all other requirements are met) and “defer” a decision on the partner getting residence, while allowing the partner to enter NZ (if not already here) and meet that 12 month requirement. You can therefore include your partner on your application even if you have lived together for less than 12 months at the date you submit your application.


Application form and document list

These are online applications, meaning original documents do not need to be mailed to Immigration New Zealand. Everything can be handled digitally and can be saved and completed over multiple sittings.


Phase 1 applicants (ie. those eligible to apply in December) will be asked to provide their current residence application number or their EOI number to confirm that they are eligible under Phase 1. Phase 2 applicants (those eligible to apply in March) will apply using a separate (but similar) form, which does not prompt them to provide an application number.


Phase 2 applicants cannot use the form released in December to prepare their applications in advance so that they are ready to submit immediately on 1 March. They will need to apply using the form specifically for Phase 2 applicants, which will be released in March.


Phase 2 applicants who mistakenly apply in Phase 1 will have their applications declined. They will not be barred from submitting a further application, however, and will be able to re-submit between 1 March 2022 and 31 July 2022, using the correct form, when they become eligible.


General documents


- General identity documents for each application: passport, passport size photo and birth certificate.

- New medical and chest x-ray certificates will be required for applicants whose previous medicals are more than 36 months old at the time they lodge their application; where they have previously been assessed as not having an acceptable standard of health; where their health has not previously been assessed; or where their health has changed since it was last assessed by Immigration New Zealand. Limited medical certificates will be required however, instead of general medical certificates.

- Immigration New Zealand will request New Zealand police checks internally. Applicants do not need to obtain these. Overseas police certificates will only be required if INZ specifically deems them necessary and requests them.

- Translations will be required for any documents not written in English. We can arrange these easily for any clients who require them. 

- If applying through a lawyer or adviser, a signed authority to act form will be required. This form will be released on 1 December.


Documents regarding eligibility

- INZ will be able to see what type of visa you held or had applied for on 29 September and again when your application is lodged, so evidence of this will not be required.


If applying under the settled test (having lived in NZ since 29 September 2018): 

- INZ will be able to see your travel movements in their system and so proof of your time spent in New Zealand won’t be required. You will also not be required to identify exactly how many days you have spent in New Zealand.


If applying under the skilled test ($27 per hour in full time employment):

- You will need to show that you earned $27 per hour on the 29th of September (or had lodged an application on or before 29 September with an offer of employment for $27 that was subsequently approved) and still earn $27 per hour when you apply (unless switching to the scarce test in the meantime).

- Documentary evidence of this would be your employment agreement or a letter from your employer confirming your pay rate and hours, and a full bank statement, payslips or IRD summary of earnings report.


If applying under the scarce test (a job on one of the scarce lists):

- You will need to show that your role matches an occupation on one of those lists, and did on the 29th of September (or you had lodged an application on or before 29 September with an offer of employment in a scarce list occupation that was subsequently approved).

- Documentary evidence of this would be your employment agreement or a letter from your employer confirming your occupation and hours, and evidence of occupational registration if your job requires it.

- While it hasn’t been stated, it is likely that INZ will also require a copy of your job description to be able to determine if your role is a match for a listed occupation.



INZ have now confirmed that the fee for the 2021 Resident Visa application will be $2160. This comprises a settlement levy of $830 and a processing fee of $1330.


For Phase 1 applicants, this fee will not be charged upfront when the application is submitted. Instead, INZ have advised that when the application is ready to be decided, they will then discuss any payment required with the applicant. At the same time, they will send a letter advising what the “in principle” decision will be, so applicants will know whether INZ intends to approve or decline the application.


This will involve a “credit and refund” system for those who have already paid for certain types of application, as follows:


Application submitted but not processed

Fee already paid

2021 Resident Fee

Payment/Refund at decision stage

Skilled Migrant EOI



$1630 to pay

Residence from Work



$360 to pay

Skilled Migrant



$550 refund


Any fee must be paid before a decision is made on the application and must be paid regardless of whether the decision is to approve or decline.


Any credit or refund will be contingent on a withdrawal of the earlier application or EOI already lodged. If an applicant doesn’t want to withdraw that other application or EOI, the full $2160 fee will be payable (the only logical reason for not wishing to withdraw the earlier application would be if INZ indicated an intention to decline the 2021 Resident Visa).


This discussion regarding fees occurs only once INZ are ready to make a decision on the 2021 Resident visa so you do not need to withdraw applications now.


If an applicant decides not to withdraw their other application, the $830 levy component of the 2021 Resident fee will not be charged, as it will have already been paid once in the other application.


Dependent children over 25 do not need to pay a separate fee, despite needing to provide their own application form.


Phase 2 applicants will need to pay the application fee in full when they lodge their application. 


Our fees to prepare and submit an application on your behalf are set out on our fee page.


Next Steps

Following today’s announcement and policy release, we are now in a position to start working with clients to start gathering information and preparing the necessary documentation for 2021 Resident Visa applications to be submitted. Priority will of course be given to those who are eligible to apply from 1 December.


For those we have already been liaising with on their eligibility to apply for a 2021 Resident Visa, we will be in touch with you via email very soon to discuss your individual circumstances directly.


If you are currently unsure of your eligibility for a 2021 Resident Visa, or would like to pursue this option with our assistance, please feel free to get in touch with one of the team. We will be very happy to assist.