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Fact or Fiction - 3 Popular 2021 Resident Visa Myths Debunked

20 January 2022

Now that 2021 Resident Visa Phase 1 applications have been open for more than seven weeks, we have seen a great deal of progress both in terms of the number of visa approvals and processing guidelines. But with any change comes confusion, and with confusion comes creative (incorrect) answers that can lead to an unfortunate spread of misinformation - especially around Facebook and the migrant community within NZ!

We hope this article will provide clarity regarding some of the main sources of uncertainty regarding the 2021 Resident Visa.

Fact or Fiction - I have to stay in New Zealand while my 2021RV application is being processed

Back in October 2021, this was a fact. However after a high court ruling in December 2021, this policy was changed, and the above statement is now fiction. You no longer need to remain in NZ while your visa is being processed. In fact, based on this recent decision, if you leave NZ while your RV is being processed then not only will your RV continue to be processed, but if it is approved while you are outside of NZ, then you can use this new residence visa to re-enter New Zealand.

However, we recommend you exercise caution when it comes to leaving NZ. Firstly, your application will be put into second priority for processing. Secondly, even if your visa allows for valid re-entry, you may not be able to easily re-enter the country.

That’s because you are still required to secure an MIQ spot in order to re-enter NZ, which comes with a few different challenges outside of the lottery itself:

  • The 20th January room release was indefinitely postponed to minimise the threat of Omicron within the community, and no new date has been provided - meaning that people outside of NZ's borders are trapped outside the country for the time being.
  • The IT system currently used by INZ to verify visas does not work for certain categories of visas - leaving nearly 200 offshore visa holders unable to progress past the MIQ lobby. While the MIQ associate deputy secretary noted that MIQ  is investigating the issue and actively seeking to resolve it, no official resolution date has been given.

Fact or Fiction - “Settled” criteria is better than “Skilled” or “Scarce” criteria

This is not a fact. As far as Immigration New Zealand is concerned, each one of the three criteria - Skilled, Scarce and Settled - carries the same weight within the application process.

However, Settled criteria requires far less information to be provided, and then to be reviewed by INZ. Therefore, it is possible that approvals for the Settled category may come through faster than applications under the Scarce or Settled categories. For that reason, if you are able to apply under Settled criteria, we recommend that you do so, as INZ will see if you meet this criteria first. If not though, rest assured that your Skilled or Scarce application is no less valid and will be processed in due course.

Fact or Fiction - Approvals in Principle (AIPs) are not the same as an actual visa approval

Technically speaking, the above statement is a fact. Approvals in Principle (AIPs) are essentially conditional approvals, but under most circumstances, there are only one or two conditions you will have to meet to meet its requirements:

  • Successful payment
  • Withdrawal of your previous application (SMC, for example)

So while it’s possible that you weren’t expecting to see an AIP arrive your inbox - only the traditional visa approval - this is not a new or unexpected step in the visa application process.

Once these steps are completed and the conditions of your AIP are met, you are eligible to receive your actual eVisa. Although turnaround time can vary substantially, some of our clients have seen their eVisas come through in just a few days.

Get Ready for Phase 2 of the 2021 Resident Visa

As of 20th January, Immigration NZ had approved and issued over 2,800 2021 Resident Visas - and we expect to see this number climb rapidly over the next few weeks. However as Phase 2 is set to open in just under six weeks - and will remain open for only five months - we encourage you to begin preparing for this now.

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