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Have you applied for South Island Work to Residence visa yet?

The Ministry of Immigration in New Zealand recently announced new changes to their immigration policy.
The Government of New Zealand has stated that their policy changes have been designed to help control record-high levels of migration to the country.

This is happening amid growing concern about housing shortages, road congestion and overcrowding in Auckland, and other major New Zealand cities.
I have written about these changes and how they relate to your quest to become a Kiwi.
In this article, I’d like to concentrate on the Government’s announcement of a new policy to provide a one-off pathway to the residence for over 1000 migrant workers and their families who have been living in the South island for more than five years.
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What’s This South Island Visa Thing About Anyway?
So here is the dealio.
The Government of New Zealand will grant an initial Work to Residence temporary visa to eligible migrants.
The temporary visa makes them eligible for residence after two years with the caveat that they stay in the same industry and region.
After this two year period, eligible workers will then be granted a resident visa. Of course, the resident visa comes with a condition – workers are required to stay in the same South Island region for a further two years.
The New Zealand Government has scheduled the new policy to come into effect on 22 May 2017.
Once the new policy is in effect, applications for the visa will be accepted for 12 months from the effective date.
So Why Is The Government Introducing The Visa?
The New Zealand Government recognizes there are a number of low-skilled temporary migrants – in particular in the South Island – who
• Have been in New Zealand long-term and are well settled
• Currently, have no pathway to residence
This pathway policy provides citizenship certainty for a pool of long-term lower-skilled migrant workers in the South Island.
The Pathway allows these migrant workers to settle permanently as well as commit to their geographic regions.

Ok – I Understand The New Visa – How Many People Does This Affect?
On the South Island, there are ~1600 temporary workers who have been on an Essential Skills visa for five plus years.
In addition, it is estimated there is likely to be approximately 3,200 – 4,000 people in total who may qualify.
This includes the partners and dependent children of workers.

Who Qualifies Then For The Visa?

To get a Visa under the new policy you must –
• Have an Essential Skills work visa for a job in the South Island
• Hold current full-time employment. The employer cannot have a significant adverse employment record
• Have been employed on an Essential Skills work visa in the South Island for five years or more when the visa is implemented
• Be 55 or less years of age
• Meet requirement so for health and character

What’s The Damage To The Wallet?
The cost of the Visa includes Standard Work to Residence, Residence from Work, and immigration levy charges.
Standard application fees also apply for partners and dependent children.

So How Can I Apply For The South Island Visa?
The Government will make applications available on the May 22nd rollout,
Applications must be made using the paper form. You cannot apply online.

Final Thoughts On The New South Island Visa Policy
The Government’s new one-off policy is being limited to long-term migrants in the South Island. This is because South Island regions tend to have lower unemployment rates than North Island regions. Custom Logo Design Services addition, approximately half of the 3,200 long-term temporary migrants in lower-skilled occupations live in the South Island.

The Visa policy has some flexibility regarding the five-year period to ensure that workers based primarily in the South Island who have been on the North Island because of their employment are not penalized unfairly.

There will also be some leeway to ensure that those who fall just short of the five-year requirement will not be excluded from pathway application. Applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

In order to ensure that the workers are meeting genuine labor market needs and potential impacts on New Zealand workers are minimized, only Essential Skills visa holders will be eligible for the visa.

I hope that this explanation of the new Visa policy helps you in your quest to become a Kiwi.

If you are interested in applying for South Island Contribution Visa to settle in New Zealand, please contact me for further details at babita@immigrationlawadvice.co.nz

119 thoughts on “Have you applied for South Island Work to Residence visa yet?

  1. hi there i have a question here..if the applicant have a skilled work.like me with dairycattle farm manager position..live 9 yearsin south island and not more than 55 years old..had been applied for residency but denied because job did not match the ANZCO DESCRIPTION..do you think iam eligible to apply for South island Contribution visa?

      1. 9 years at essential visa..with good employer..and stay for the same employer for 9 years…also at 73k salary threshold.

        1. Hi there,

          You won’t be eligible for South Island Contribution Visa as you need to be in South Island for 5 years on Essential Work Visa to apply for that.

      2. hi im just want to ask something im asphalt operator or machine operator in road asphalting im 2yrs now here in christchurch and my family is now already here last december im just want to know if im iligible to aply a resedence visa

        1. You won’t be eligible to apply for South Island contribution visa.
          To know about your eligibility for a skilled migrant category, I need to do a detailed assessment of your case. Charges will apply.
          You may contact me at services@immigrationlawadvice.co.nz and I can give you more details. Thanks.

    1. Hi we’ve been in NZ for 8 years, my husband is a dairy farm worker and main principle. Can I change the visa under my name and apply the new visa from the ones of 22 May.

      1. Hi Moneeka,

        This particular Visa is for people who are on essential skill category Work Visa for five years or more in South Island. So, I believe you may not be eligible to apply as a principal applicant for this visa. Though your husband may apply if he is on essential skill Work Visa from last five years or more. Please feel free to contact me at babita@immigrationlawadvice.co.nz if you would like to discuss this in more details.

  2. Good day.. just want to know if i can apply for residency under essential skill , been staying here in south island for almost 5 years just a matter of 5 months and i am exactly 5 years..is there a possibility that i can apply?

    1. Hi Roselle,

      For South Island Contribution Visa, there is some flexibility with regards to the time spent on essential skill work visa in south Island on a case by case basis. I would advise you to apply though the final decision will be made by INZ. As I mentioned earlier it would be considered on a case by case basis. If you would like me to help you in application, you may contact me at babita@immigrationlawadvice.co.nz

  3. Hi!

    Ive been working here in the south island for almost 10 years now and have an essential skill work visa for the same period. Ive been on skill level 1 for almost 8 years now, would I qualify for the said one-off pathway residence visa? Would I still need to take an english exam?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Jan Barros,

      You should definitely apply for this visa. For the English eligibility, we will come to know more about that closer to the application date; which is 22nd May 2017. Please contact me after 15th May and hopefully I will have an answer for you by then. You may email me at babita@immigrationlawadvice.co.nz

  4. Hi, i just wanna ask if this is first come first serve basis for the 1600 slots? or that is already in database that there are 1600 work visa holder over five years here already in south island that can apply anytime within 1 year span of the offer? We just want to know if we need to apply first thing on may 22nd., thank you so much..

    1. Hi Ray,
      Nothing has been mentioned so far by INZ that it’s a first come first serve basis visa.
      Hope this helps. Thanks.

  5. Hello,

    I have been lived here in South Island since 10/10/2012 on essential skill work visa. Which make up 4 years 7 months and 12 days by 22/05/2017. Am I qualified for this South Island Contribution Visa Category?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Ankit,

      The requirement for this visa is 5 years in South Island on essential skills Work Visa. There will be some flexibility with time on a case by case.

      1. yes i am in christchurch. i don’t know if i am under essential skills work visa but right now im holding 3yrs work visa.

        1. Hi Laney,
          You would need to know the category of Work Visa you are currently on to know your eligibility for this pathway. You can look at below link to see if this helps you to know more about essential skills Work Visa in NZ.

          https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/about-visa/essential-skills-work-visa

          If you want me to do a detailed assessment or help in your application, you may contact me at babita@immigrationlawadvice.co.nz and I can send you details of the services we offer.

          1. i had a job offer from my employer when i applied for my work visa and prior to that, my employer advertise the position but no new zealander is qualified for the position. im fulltime permanent.. so i guess i am under essential skills work visa

  6. Hi there!
    I am in south island from last 1 year and 7 months, I am on essential skill visa and I am working full time as a housekeeping supervisor in a motel.
    What things I have to do for my residency application?
    Thanks

  7. Hi there,
    Am in Christchurch for last one year one month have been in north island from 2011.Came on a student visa completed the course and started working as caregiver from 2013 and got transferred to Christchurch in 2016 working with the same organization for the past 3 year 6 month.Am I eligible to apply for residence?
    Thanks

    1. Hi there,

      You will not qualify for the South Island Contribution Visa as it for people on essential skills Work Visa in South Island only
      For the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) it seems unlikely but if you want me to do a detailed assessment of your case. You may write to me at babita@immigrationalawadvice.co.nz and I can send you the details of services we offer for the assessment.

  8. Hi, we have lived in South Isalnd for 7 years…. in 2010 I was on essential work visa till 2012 in hospitality … in 2012 I went on partnership visa till mid 2014 as we were thinking of applying for residence but unfortunately my partners occupation was removed, however we remained on the same occupation and same employer, in mid 2014 I went back on essential work visa but in dairy industry till now, I have held the essential work visa for 5 years but it’s not consecutive… we were also part of volunteer fire brigade… am I eligible to apply… as I read the policy, it doesn’t mention last 5 years or consecutive

    1. Hi Shalini,

      So far the information released by INZ seems positive for cases like yourself as long as it is presented well.

      At the moment I know there will be some flexibility with the time. After or near to the rollout date, there shall be more clarity.

      Better, you contact me after 20th May and I may able to give you more input on this. You can email me at babita@immigrationlawadvice.co.nz

      Babita

  9. Hello I have a year three months in New Zealand we were working on the island about I have a vacation job and I can apply for this visa ?.
    I am very interested in being a resident and working in the South Island.

  10. My son just had his essentisl
    Skill work visa in South Island last year . Is there any consideration for this work to residence? We all NZ citizen except him as when we got our residence then, he is already married. We want him to be here with us. Is there any other way for him and his family leave here in NZ permanently? He works as Diversional therapist and caregiver.

  11. Hi
    I have 7 years in Queenstown with my son and partner, I have work visa for this 7 years in same industry , but i don’t have qualifications… I have any opportunity for apply to residency?

    1. Hi Caroline,

      Are you on Essential Work Visa all this time? Are you the principal applicant? What type of Job are you doing? What type of Job your partner is doing? Thanks.

  12. Hi I know that I’m not qualified for this wonderful opportunity.but may I need to us what is the other way to apply for resident.im currently hold under essential work visa til 2019.my current position is farm 2ic and have been 4years in NZ.if I apply for resident the ielts is still required admin thanks.

  13. Hi,I am working here in south Island for 1 year and 6 month on essential skills work visa,So would I qualify to apply for it…?

    1. Sorry, you won’t qualify for this visa as one of the main requirements is to be on essential skill Work Visa in south island for five years or more.

  14. Hi i was essential skill since 2007 from north island and just move south on 2012 ill be 5 years here in south on 2018 do im qualify for INZ new rules.

    1. Hi Jay,

      Like mentioned earlier one of the main requirements is to be on essential skill Work Visa in South Island for five years or more. There may be some flexibility if some part of the essential work visa is in North on a case by case basis.
      I believe it would also depend on how you present your case in front of INZ. But more details are yet to come. You may contact me after mid of May. Hopefully, will have more information by then.

  15. can my 23 years old son be eligible for this visa? Hes been here for 6 years. as dependent child at first.. on student visa for 2years where he finished year 13 here in south island…visitors visa for 1 year and essential working visa for 3 years..he is included in our family’s residency application while in visitors visa..but we denied..after that he apply for essential skill work visa.

        1. my husband is in essential visa for 8 years at the same employer..working as dairy cattle farm manager..47 years old.

    1. Ho Leslie,

      Doesn’t look he will, though contact me closer to 22nd May when more information will be released. Thanks.

  16. My husband is working in South Island under essential skill since September 2013, and s he eligible to grab this opportunity?

    1. Hi Mitch,

      There is some flexibility but more details may be available closer to 22nd May. Though in cases like this where it’s far away from five years timeline, chances seem less.

  17. Hi, im already 7 yrs here in nz and having 5 yrs on 3may for an essential work visa. But i am not a degree holder back home just have level 3 primary ito. Do i am qualified on applying for the new rules? Thank you

  18. Hi all,

    I have got a number of questions from people who are short of 5 years timeline of being on Essential skills Work Visa in south Island. The answer to that is, there is some flexibility with the time though there will be many other factors that may impact the INZ decision most importantly how well settled you are in New Zealand and don’t have a pathway to residence.

    I think it is very important to represent your case well to INZ as applications are considered on a case by case basis.

    There will be more details available closer to 22nd may. You are welcome to contact me at babita@immigrationlawadvice.co.nz
    in case you want me to represent you to INZ.

    Babita
    Licensed Immigration Adviser-201700213

  19. Good day,,,
    I have 3 years and 9 months here in South Island, work as Essential Skills,,, im i qualified? thanks

  20. Hi there. Friend of mine worked at south island as health care assistant (it is essential skill) from march 2012-july 2014. Transferred to north island july 2014- may 2016 as health care assistant . Came back to south island from may 2016- present with the same job. Will she be eligible to apply for one-off pathway? Or may she apply sometime next year since this pathway is open for a year. Thanks!

      1. Hi admin. Thanks for replying. She is the principal and alone. Children are over 19 years old anyway. She holds work visa under essential skills (HCA). Can she apply for this opportunity even she has wait until February next year? Many thanks.

      2. Hi admin. Thanks for replying. She is the principal and alone. Children are over 19 years old. She holds work visa under essential skills (HCA). Can she apply? She can wait early next year to apply if needed. Many thanks.

  21. Hi admin. My husband was on essential skill work visa for 2yrs and I was under partnership but now m on essential skill visa from 3yrs n he is under partnership visa it’s 5yrs all together in nz can I apply….

  22. Hi,i stay at queenstown since Dec 2010,holding work visa for house keeping 3year, kitchen hand 1year ,cook 1 year ,chef 1 year,but now i just have part time position,if i change to full time position ,can i apply?Thank

  23. Hi dear I have work on dairy farm full time for 2.5 years on open work visa and then on same farm I am currently working since 3.5 years on essential skills visa. Do u think I will eligible

    1. Technically not as eligibility is essential Work Visa. Though contact me after 22nd May, they may be more information on this pathway

  24. Hi there..im under of essential skills visa and been here for 3 years and visa will expire next year by june and earning 52k$ roughly in a year. My question is there any posibility to stay here for good?

    1. Hello there, I work here in SI on essential skills (caregiver) from 2007-2013 as principal.But on April 2013 til present we swap with my husband he is now the principal and me as dependent but my work is still the same …caregiver.I am 50y0 this year.Am I qualified? Thanks heaps.

      1. Your case looks interesting. The requirement is 5 years on essential work Visa with some flexibility on case by case basis. You may conatct me at

        babita@immigrationalawadvice.co.nz

        after 22nd May 2017 for the detailed assessment and if you would like me to help you with your application.

  25. i am in christchurch. i am under essential skills work visa 7/2013-7/2014, 7/2015 until now and now im holding 3yrs work visa until 7/2019. May I know I have chance for me?

  26. Hi, I’ve been working here on essential skills from 2008- 2013 under partnership with my wife.But from April 2013 til present we swap with my wife I am now the principal , my visa will expire on 2019.By the way I am 55yo this year.Am I qualified.Thanks.

    1. Your case looks interesting. The requirement is 5 years on essential work Visa with some flexibility on case by case basis. You may conatct me at

      babita@immigrationalawadvice.co.nz

      after 22nd May 2017 for the detailed assessment and if you would like me to help you with your application.

  27. Hi there,my husband is working here in Christchurch for almost 3years and a half and his visa is gonna expires next year by June,is there any chance for him to apply for the work-residence visa under Essential Skills Category?thank you and God speed!

  28. good day,
    I had been in New Zealand on a Essential Skilled visa for 4.5 years and then I left… if I would be back on a work permit under a particular employer, would my previous years ADD to that 5 year period or I would need to start from year 0 because I left NZ last September please?

    1. Kia ora! Izzy

      Ther is some flexibility about the timeline of 5 Years on a case by case basis though more details are yet to come. Please contact me after 22nd May and I may able to answer this better.

      1. Kia Ora!
        Thank you for a reply and I will surely contact you after the 22nd for more details, thank you kindly!
        As for 5 year flexibility I think what they meant was if someone, during their period of 5 years stay in NZ, has spent some time in North Island. what bothers me the most is that I left New Zealand so I am not there anymore and my previous years may not count at all 🙁

        1. Hi Izzy,
          Probably you won’t be able to apply as you would not be in NZ on 22 May 2017 holding an Essential Skills work visa.

          1. Really bad news but oh well, can’t help it 🙁 I shouldn’t have left 🙁
            Thank you for a reply!

  29. Hi im on a partnership visa with m
    Husband who have been on essential work
    Visa for more than 5 years but unfortunately he does not meet the age requirement. ( he is 61) but i did hold a essential work visa for 6 years then but now I have partnership visa with my husband which made me on a open visa but my job is still considered as a essential job. So I’ve been here 8/9 years was on a essential work visa for 6 years here in christchurch but on an open visa for 2/3 years now. Will i be able to apply or do i have to have a current job offer? Also i have a 20 son here in living with us, hes been here almost 7 years and was on our list when we applied for our residency which we widraw because i had issues with my employer. He is now on a work visa but only been working around 5 months? Will be able to stay with us here in nz and still be listed on our residency? Thanks

  30. Hello,where is your good office?So that we will come personally..My husband had been 2yrs to work here in canterbury as Carpenter..Can we apply for this visa?

    1. Hi Neena,

      We are based in Invercargill. I am sorry but as you have been in CHC for only 2 years so won’t be eligible to apply for South Island contribution visa.
      Thanks.

  31. hi can i ask if im eligible. been in NZ for 5 yrs and 9 months working as caregiver. stayed in auckland and just moved in south last Jan.employed under essential skills. thank you

  32. My husband been working in southisland nearly 9 years.Presently working among the largest robotic farm in the world for nearly 3years. We applied for residency in 2012 but denied coz the job description do not match the ANZCO code. He is a herd manager currently having a salary remuneration of 52k, 47 y.o. has assessed at level 5 qualification for agriculture by NZQA last 2012. been trained for hoof trimming for cows, attended seminars for SOMATIC Cell count prevention and techniques on drying off cows. Is he qualified for residency? is it really a must that job offer should be match in ANZCO code job description?thanks

    1. He may apply under this category as eligibility criteria for this pathway is not similar as a Skilled Migrant Category.
      Was he on Essential Skills Work Visa from last 5 years? If so, chances are good.
      Let me know if you want me to help you with the application. You can write to me at babita@immigrationlawadvice.co.nz

  33. hello..just wanted to know if i am eligible or not for the 5yr flexibility..i have been working under essentials skills visa since April 2013 which makes it 4yrs and 1month with the same visa i am currently holding. I know i fell marginally short of the 5yr. requirement..But, as what i’ve read from the INZ media release, that the applications are accepted within one year from the effective date which is on may 2017 to may 2018. Within one year wherein the applications is still going on and it’s still open, I will be turning 5yrs in April 2018 which is just a month before the application closes, it makes me wonder if i would be eligible to apply for the pathway to residency?
    I think as for 5 year flexibility, what they meant was if someone, during their period of 5 years of stay in NZ, has spent some time in the North Island as a result of the nature of their employment will be given the chance to be assessed for their eligibility. It isn’t clear to me if we are included for that flexibility as well with regards to our case that fell one year short, and with my case that will turn 5yrs in April 2018, a month just before the application is closed which is on May 2018.
    Thank you.

    1. Five years needs to be completed by 22nd May 2017, not at later date. Flexibility may be there for people who fall short of that timeline

      marginally

      on case by case basis.

  34. Hi,I am under essential work visa from 2012 by my residency got declined from gas station still working same do I have any chance to apply for South Island visa , my previous application got declined as I my study is not matching with my job profile.

      1. Hi I am holding visa from 2012 march. Do I need to take any ielts for this visa am I qualified even if my residency declined in the year 2014.

  35. hello, just want to ask if i am qualified for this visa, i’ve been working here in south island for almost 5 yrs this coming feb. 13 2018, with the same company. Do i need to take IELTS? and my company is more willing to help us in all need requirement for 5 of us but diff. length of service with the company.

    1. Five years needs to be completed by 22nd May 2017, not at later date. Flexibility may be there for people who fall short of that timeline marginally
      on a case by case basis.

  36. Hi, i had essential work visa from May 2010 to November 2015 but from December 2015 till now, i am holding a partnership visa, do i still eligible for the south island contribution visa? Thank you.

    1. You need to be holding Essential Skills work visa in order to be eligible for South Island Contribution Visa.

  37. Hi i was on essential visa in south island for 6yrs but at present i hold open visa from my husband but still on essential job full time here. Can i apply for this visa? Thanks

  38. Hi.
    I finished my college in christchurch (1 year business level 6)
    So i got open work visa for 1year
    (Worked for commercial cleaning manager in christchurch)
    After that i got an essencial skills work visa(3years) i worked for 3 years as assistant restaurant manager in christchurch) from oct 2012 to oct 2014
    Now I am on essencial skills work visa(3years) from nov 2014 – nov 2017
    Working for restaurant manager.

    I’ve been working with essencial skills work visa for 5years and 4monthes in christchurch.

    Do you think i can apply this visa?
    (Only i am worried that low skill holder can apply this visa.)

  39. Hi there just wondering im doing diploma in aquaculture in Nelson, but my study is going to finish by the end of june, after that i will have 1 yr job search visa, during that period can my wife stay as my dependent? Or she need her own visa?
    And also got job offers for aquaculture farmer does it allows me to apply for work visa after my post study job search visa? If yes how long? Is it no more than 3 yrs or any other.
    And if I continue with my current caregiver job how many years i can apply for work visa for permanent full time position?
    Thanks in advance

  40. hi there,
    i was received Essential Skills from visa 21 April 2012 to now (only one employer)
    and almost 5ys 1m but I’ve got two month holiday and
    I’m level skill 2 can I apply for this visa? thanks

  41. Greetings! This is a great opportunity to us essential skills workers here in NZ.I am happy about this news but little bit worried if I am qualify with this visa.I was arrived here in Christchurch October 29,2013,since then I was worked same industry, same company and renewed my work visa for another 3 years.My question are ,do you think I can apply for this visa? if yes, do I need for ielts?how about my annual income is less than $49,000 ,is this affect my application? and how much to pay for this visa?
    Thank you.

    1. eligibility for this visa is 5 years on essential work visa until 22nd May 2017. Your’s time seems to be much lesser than that.

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