2021 Resident Visa Process: Phase 2 pressure valve release

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has released further detail on the roll out of Phase 2 of the 2021 Resident Visa (21 RV) that will start from 10.00am on 1 March 2022.

As readers will be aware, there are estimates of approximately 150,000 applicants who will be eligible to apply for the new category on 1 March.  Understandably, every applicant wants to lodge their application as soon as possible (ideally on 1 March) to enable them to be first in the queue for having their application considered.  We have regularly expressed our concerns in relation to the pressure this will place on INZ’s system, but also on the immigration industry, who are handling thousands of these applications on behalf of anxious clients.  Many will recall that when Phase 1 went live on 1 December there were system crashes and a variety of other technical problems – and that was for around just 10,000 applications.  This pressure impacted not only 21 RV applicants, but also all other visa applicants (in other categories) that were trying to lodge their online applications at that time.

In order to control application upload and to create a fair system, INZ has now announced that applicants who have not already been invited to apply under Phase 2 will be able to apply from 10.00am on 1 March, however, no application in this cohort will be assigned for assessment until the end of March.  At the end of March, all these applications lodged in the system will be allocated to immigration officers for processing based on the expiry date of the main applicant’s temporary visa at the time of lodging their application.  In essence, instead of allocating based on the date the application was received in March, they will prioritise them based on the expiry date of the visa instead (e.g. an application with a temporary visa expiry on 1 July will be allocated and processed before an application with a visa expiry on 15 July – the date these applications were filed is irrelevant).

This is a very sensible way to approach the process.  It means there is no advantage to anyone based on when they file, so applicants have a full month to lodge their application (i.e. there is nothing to be gained by filing early in March).  With a system that can handle 75,000 applications uploaded in a week, it would appear as long as applicants approach lodgement in a sensible way, there will be no issues with ability to upload and start an application like there was in Phase 1.

Although not specifically confirmed in the INZ press release today, it should be noted that we believe that the early invitations issued for Phase 2 applicants who have a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest in the Pool that was submitted on or before 29 September 2021, should expect to have their applications processed without the assignment delay noted above.  There are approximately 10,500 individuals in this group and to date INZ has received 1,502 applications.  This makes sense to us as INZ will not wish to “waste” valuable processing time to get through these as the Minister wants all these applications decided as soon as is possible.  We therefore believe March will be reserved for completion of Phase 1 and these priority invitations for Phase 2.

For the main March cohort for filing from 1 March, INZ are also streamlining the initial lodgement process.  The only information that will need to be uploaded on lodgement is identification documentation (ID page of passport) and payment of the application fee ($2,160).  Post lodgement a standard email will be sent out providing further guidance on what further documents will be required that can then be uploaded. Again, the application will not progress further from there until it is allocated based on the expiry date of the main applicant’s temporary visa.

INZ is taking a pragmatic approach here that has been formulated by consultation with the private sector.  There is no need to rush and file; rather, you have a full month to file to be on equal terms with everyone else.  Provided that is understood, the issues encountered with the system crashing under Phase 1 will be prevented and stress for those that have temporary visas expiring within the next three months will be alleviated.

This new approach does mean that for some applicants whose temporary visa will expire in the near future (e.g. visa expires around May/June/July 2022) it may be worth waiting to file your temporary visa extension as there will be a fairly good chance these applications will be processed and the 21 RV residence issued soon after they are allocated in April.

Readers will be aware that applicants who lodge a 21 RV application can get an automatic interim visa once their underlying temporary visa expires.  However, there are some good reasons to consider making a further visa application rather than accepting the automatic interim visa.

Please get in touch with our team of immigration experts below to discuss the best way to approach the 21 RV application for you and/or your employees.

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Mark Williams
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