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‘Other Critical Workers’ and their Residence Pathway

07 April 2022

What is "Other Critical Worker"? 

Other Critical Worker’ is a border category that allows New Zealand employers to bring skilled and experienced offshore workers to the country for six months or one year. While overall this category remains undesirably complex and has been a source of great frustration for NZ businesses; for one specific set of workers there has been a relaxation of rules.  

These are people having job offers offering a base salary at or over $84,240 annually (which is calculated at 1.5x median wage of $27/hour) and wanting to come to NZ for over six months. Anyone below this income will need to go through the stricter process as it was set out prior to this lot of changes coming into effect on March 14, 2022.  

Of course, this creates an incentive for employers to inflate wages to allow themselves to take advantage of the relaxed rules, but this is something INZ will check. The genuineness of the job, market rate in NZ for that role compared to the salary offered, and employer's compliance with immigration and employment law in New Zealand will be checked by INZ. 

Residence pathways for higher paid workers? 

The simple answer is that higher paid workers have a different salary threshold when entering the country vs when applying for residence. While they can enter NZ at $84,240 pa, they are not eligible to submit residence under the one-off '2021 Resident Visa' (or 2021 RV for short) with this pay.

However, if a worker is paid at least $106,080 per annum (calculated at 2x median wage of $27/hr), then they would become eligible to apply for 2021RV which opened on 01 December 2021 and closes on July 31 2022.  

However, the worker must arrive in NZ before this closing date, as you can only submit a 2021 Resident Visa whilst physically being in NZ. That still allows a 3.5 month window - at the time of writing this.  

How to be successful in your planning? 

If your employee’s goal is to permanently settle in New Zealand, and you, as the employer, wish to support them for this, then you should look beyond flights and moving belongings, as immigration rules are paramount.  

As we know, immigration policies can pivot and change very quickly, so right now it is vital to have an immigration expert alongside you to assist with this planning. 

As an employer you may wish to take the lead in ensuring the right path is chosen for your overseas employees and their family. The correct path may lead to achieving your employees' immigration plans and keep them happy and committed to continue working with you.  

This situation - of being able to enter the country and submit residence swiftly - is a unique one. 2021 RV is a one-off, 'never-happened-before-will-not-happen again' category and is creating a high sense of urgency amongst migrants to get in and submit their applications before it closes, especially for those that are yet to cross the border.  

All this could be achieved in a short timeframe if the employer and the employee are well planned - in line with immigration changes made so far, and those yet to come. 


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