Hard-working migrants on farms set to gain certainty from one-off residency pathway

An estimated 9,000 migrants working in New Zealand’s primary industries and their families could benefit from the Government’s announced one-off, simplified pathway to residence, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor said.

“This is a great step that will provide certainty for hard-working migrants, their families, their employers and our rural communities,” Damien O’Connor said.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi today announced the new 2021 Resident Visa, an arrangement that could see up to 165,000 migrants granted residence.

Immigration New Zealand has published eligibility criteria that will be relevant to many migrants currently working on farms.

“Across rural New Zealand migrants are demonstrating their value to our economy and particularly during these COVID times. We need to make sure we show how we value these people and in doing so retain them.

“COVID-19 has greatly disrupted the movement of people across borders. Our focus now is to move through this process as quickly and fairly as possible.”

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

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

“This week we also announced October dates for the commencement of quarantine free travel for RSE workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, which will greatly help our growers. This step today is another example of listening to employers and their people, and responding.”

Damien O’Connor said while the announcement helps to relieve workforce pressure, he believed the primary industries still needed to say focussed on their long-term strategies for developing people.

“Immigration is one way to source people, but we also need to keep up the good work that’s been done over the past 12 months or so to attract Kiwis into life on the land or our supply chains, and of course retain them.

“Wherever you go in modern economies around the world, the most valued resource is people and it’s no different for our primary sector.”

“Across our primary industries we are experiencing very good growth in export revenues and having great people will be key to our trade-led recovery from COVID-19,” Damien O’Connor said.

Details on the 2021 Resident Visa

The 2021 Resident Visa will be available for migrants who, as at 29 September 2021:

  • have either lived in New Zealand for at least three years,
  • earn above the median wage,
  • are a registered health or education worker,
  • are a primary sector worker,
  • are a specified personal care worker, or
  • work in a role on the Long Term Skill Shortage List.

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

Immigration New Zealand will contact eligible visa holders by the end of October with more information about their application process.

Workers entering New Zealand through the critical worker border exceptions before 31 July 2022 for roles longer than six months will also be eligible for this one-off residence pathway.

Applicants will still need to pass police and security checks, as is required under the current residence application process. Applicants will also need to meet health requirements.

More information about the eligibility criteria and application process is available on Immigration New Zealand’s website. This will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.