Residence Visas- Where to now?

 In Coronavirus, immigration, immigration issues, opinion, Studying in NZ

26 July 2021

In March 2020 Immigration New Zealand suspended the processing of Expression of Interest (EOI) visas for Residency under Skilled Migrant Category. As discussed in the past on this blog INZ still have a massive backlog of applications to process. This is in addition to borders and off-shore processing currently being closed until February 2022. 
While there is no certainty as to whether or when  EOIs for Skilled Migrant Category will reopen there is no doubt still interest in it. As a recent article in stuff revealed – in March 2020 there were 460 people with EOIs submitted – now in July 2021 there are 11,130 EOIs waiting to be actioned. 

Reimagining New Zealand’s Residency Visa program

It is our understanding that the whole program is under review by the Minister Kris Faafoi. While the pause in EOI selection and ongoing review breeds further uncertainty – this represents a historic opportunity to repurpose. It is also an opportunity to better fit the NZ Residency Program and Skilled Migrant Category to the current economic and health realities in New Zealand. 

Key Health Workers Considering their options

In the meantime over a year has passed since EOIs were selected and even key health workers are currently considering their options as reported in the media. Uncertainty around when Residence Visa applications will be made available can be a catalyst in making these health workers look elsewhere like Canada and Australia. There too key health workers are needed and also where residency programs may still be available. 
I think we can all agree that NZ needs to and the lesson of Covid-19 is that NZ retain its key health workers and keep them in NZ for the long term. 

Covid-19 Key Workers need to be recognised

It bears repeating but our Key Workers during Covid-19 were not just health workers but the others which kept New Zealand going during the Level 4 lockdown last year. The people who worked without break while the bulk of New Zealanders were at home. 

The supermarket workers, the cleaners, the truck drivers and the food service workers helped us during Covid-19. They moved, fed, cleaned and supplied New Zealand throughout this period. 

Due to many of these positions being considered ‘low-skilled’ under ANZSCO there is no class of Residency available to most of them. 

It is also the case that many key workers under Covid such as retail managers, chefs and others, already had applications under Skilled Migrant Category. They have had contributions during Covid disregarded by INZ case officers playing hardball. This is a world away from our PM’s message to ‘be kind’.

It is high time that the kindness and hard work of our Covid-19 key workers be recognised with their own class of Residence Visa. The contributions during Covid also be taken into account with existing Skilled Migrant Category visas and Work to Residence Visas. 

Regions not getting their fair share 

As discussed on this blog in the past – Auckland (along with the large cities like Christchurch and Auckland) get the bulk of successful Skilled Migrant Category visas. One year later this hasn’t changed. In the year 2020/21 – of the 8199 successful applications – 2819 were in the Auckland region – or 1/3 of them. 
The current incentives (30 points in Skilled Migrant Category) is clearly not enough to encourage successful residence applications from the regions. 
Better fitting the future Residence Visas to our regions such as an increase in points or quotas for visas to be issued in particular regions would make better economic sense. 

Other Doors Closing

While a lot of focus has been on Skilled Migrant Category closing. Other doors for Residency in New Zealand are also closing. Work to Residence Visas are in the process of being closed down. These Work to Residence Visas allow those who hold them to apply for Residence after two years. The Work to Residence Visas under ‘Talent Accredited Employer’ and ‘Long Term Skills Shortage List’ are also closing on 31 October 2021. 

People working for key employers and those with jobs on the Long Term Skills Shortage will need to get their visa applications in by 31 October 2021. 

Please contact Idesi Legal for Assistance. 


At IDESI LEGAL we provide help for migrants and refugees coming to New Zealand. If you’re a NZ migrant and need help with the immigration process, get in touch.

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