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What about the Paper Residence Queue?

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Everyone is asking what's going on with Skilled Migrant and Residence from Work applications now that the R21 has started. So here are some interesting insights:


😀 The team now has @10 case officers (versus over 70 pre-August)

😀 The last time fresh applications were allocated was on 27 September: total 33 allocated

😀 SMC decided before and since the August lockdown:

July: 372

August: 168

Sept: 21

Oct: 110

Nov: not yet reported

Talent Accredited Employer Residence decided:

July: 144

August: 121

Sept: 51

Oct: 100

Nov: not yet reported

😀 And then this all-important breakdown (note "skilled" means SMC and Res From Work).


Now that off-shore applications must be decided how is this going to play out? Will INZ put those ahead of the priority applications lodged before the Feb 2020 priorities were formally introduced? If so, that will take time as those applications may well have issues. The 813 priority applications must be Residence From Work as no SMC has been able to be lodged since December 2020. Res From Work are the easier to decide in general terms. Questions arise:

  • Why did they even make us all go through this R21 in December causing so much angst when they had all your documents already - they could just as well have said forget health, character & English and got on with it.. (dare to dream)?

  • Why should a paper priority application lodged in good faith as being priority play second fiddle to an R21?

  • Come, say May next year, will there be a tipping point where a person say # 500 in the priority queue has a better chance at paper than if # 60,000 in the R21 queue? Currently, the R21 team is around 100-strong. That's only 10 times the paper queue. In reality, the paper queue will drain out between now and March as those R21s get approved. Think bathtub with the plug removed - a total drain out. Come March there could be very little left in the tub competing with the throngs of R21s so you might be number 80 versus #60,000.

  • Would it even be lawful for INZ to stall processing of the paper applications lodged again in good faith (priority I'm talking @)?

  • Will more resources be thrown at either queue? So much still to play out here. It's going to be interesting to watch.

Given so many of the things INZ told us in the last however long have proven to be quite wrong (think priority queue slammed by the Ombudsman; think Afghan Nationals case; think all the cheerleading that 1 Dec was going to be a breeze), I would not rule out the possibility that some priority applicants may come out on top after all at some point. Given it is possible to have two applications in the system without prejudice other than the paperwork and effort involved, it may still pay to take a "two trolleys" approach. I may well be proved wrong on that. But here's some of the things we were saying in 2020/21 that went against some of the prevailing opinions yet proved to be right:

  • for non-priority applicants to lodge their Res from Work early. Many naysayers (including INZ officers) were convinced this was not possible when it totally was - the instructions don't insist on you doing 24 months before you apply - only that you complete 24 months to be granted residence. (if you don't believe me just go to the instructions: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/opsmanual/#41990.htm ). By lodging early (and getting the lodgement team to agree), we got many clients into the December cohort for R21.

  • better in than out of the EOI pool when INZ said that was not a good idea. Again, around 1400 with 17+-year-olds managed to get into the December cohort for R21 that otherwise would not have done. For others, a credit of the fee paid towards R21. Most definitely a punt that was worth taking in many cases.

All in all, it pays to understand that what INZ says or thinks is so is not always thus. A better approach is to use the power of information and critical analysis and to think laterally. Since we enjoy doing just that (because immigration is our passion and our daily bread), we can do the work for you and share as we go. We don't consider ourselves just immigration "agents". We are immigration strategists who also happen to care about you!


Let's see what the coming months bring. For now, if you have already paid for and prepared documents for a paper application and have no major health issues at least, I think it still makes sense not to totally ditch the two trolleys. Unless you are of the personality type that much prefer simple, binary. Which is also just fine. Your journey is your journey. You must do what best suits you. Our job is to provide you with the analysis so that you can make well-informed decisions.


If interested in having us on your team - register on our R21 page: it's not too late and you then become part of our amazing Resource Centre for even more updates.



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