Petition started to broaden eligibility for fast-tracked 2021 resident visa

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi family members will be able join migrants already in NZ who meet the criteria for the 2021 Resident Visa.

A petition has been launched calling for the government’s new residency plan to be expanded to include all visa holders who have lived in New Zealand for three or more years, earn the median wage , or work in a role on a scarce list.

It was started by Aucklander Rachel Swann, who first arrived from the UK just over three years ago on a Working Holiday Visa. She was granted an Essential Skills Work Visa but swapped to a Partner of a Student Work Visa in order to improve her job prospects and gain more points to qualify for residency under the skilled migrant category.

The current 2021 Resident Visa policy is expected to supply 165,000 migrants with a fast-track to residency.

Philipp Skavantzos and Rachel Swann have been in New Zealand since 2018.
Philipp Skavantzos and Rachel Swann have been in New Zealand since 2018.

It is open to Essential Skills, Work to Residence and Post Study Work visas, but not Student or Partner of a Student visas.

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Twenty-five-year-old Swann said she was angry and upset, and her exclusion from the new policy meant she and her partner’s path to residency was once more unclear. Swann’s partner is currently studying for a PHD in computer science.

“I fit all the categories, it’s just I changed my visa to up-skill and have the opportunity to get more points to apply for the Skilled Migrant category – which is exactly what the government have been telling us to do.

“I did everything right, and I’ve still been penalised, and I’m absolutely furious.”

By 5pm on Thursday the petition had garnered over 900 signatures.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi answers questions on the 2021 Resident Visa policy.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi answers questions on the 2021 Resident Visa policy.

Immigration New Zealand general manager of visa operations Nicola Hogg said individuals who were not eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa would need to explore other visa options if they wanted to stay in New Zealand permanently.

“Individuals who are highly skilled may be able to apply under existing residence categories such as the Skilled Migrant Category,” she said.

Hogg said Immigration NZ would continue to process other temporary and residence applications in line with normal processing timeframes.

Swann and her partner met after moving to New Zealand over three years ago. She said she changed visa because her work as a human resources coordinator was making her unhappy.

She has since moved into a role as an internal recruitment consultant, which earned well above the $27-per-hour earning threshold.

“What’s the pathway to residency for the people who haven’t been captured by this visa? There’s just no certainty.

“It’s ridiculous, they act like they’ve done something for everybody, but actually they have excluded a massive portion of people.”

Swann said she and other excluded migrants had put up with inequitable access to MIQ spots and being excluded from the likes of buying a house during Covid-19 because they weren’t residents.

The couple were now considering moving to Australia as a backup, which Swann said had a clearer pathway to residency via Skavantzos’ studies, but both loved New Zealand and wanted to stay.