WELLINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - New Zealand will offer a one-off resident visa to as many as 165,000 migrants after delays in processing residency applications during the Covid-19 pandemic threatened an exodus of skilled foreign workers.
"We are providing a way forward for our migrant families who have long been disrupted by Covid-19, while ensuring businesses have the certainty they need to plan into the future," Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said in a statement on Thursday (Sept 30) in Wellington.
"We acknowledge the uncertainty and difficulties Covid-19 and our closed borders have caused our migrant community."
The new visa creates an easier pathway to residency for migrant workers left in limbo during the pandemic, including thousands of skilled health workers whose applications for residence had been delayed.
Mr Faafoi said the majority of applications will be granted within a year of the category opening in December.
The 2021 Resident Visa will be available to most work-related visa holders and their immediate family members.
Immigration New Zealand estimates eligible visa holders will include over 5,000 health and aged-care workers, around 9,000 primary industry workers, and more than 800 teachers.
There are also around 15,000 construction and 12,000 manufacturing workers on relevant visa types, some of whom will be eligible for the one-off pathway.