The Pacific Access Category (PAC) is a unique immigration pathway designed by the New Zealand government. This program aims to provide an opportunity for citizens of specific Pacific nations to gain residence in New Zealand.
This blog post will delve into the details of the Pacific Access Category, its eligibility criteria, its application process, and its impact on the Pacific community.
What is the Pacific Access Category?
The Pacific Access Category is an annual immigration lottery that allows a certain number of citizens from Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga, and Tuvalu to become residents of New Zealand. This initiative is part of New Zealand's commitment to its Pacific neighbours, recognizing the close ties and shared history between these nations. The Pacific Access Category is run by ballot and allows up to 150 citizens of Kiribati, 150 citizens of Tuvalu, 500 citizens of Tonga, and 500 citizens of Fiji to be granted residence in New Zealand every year.
To qualify for residence under the Pacific Access Category, applicants must meet several criteria:
- Nationality and Birth: The applicant must be a citizen of one of the PAC countries (Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga, or Tuvalu) and have been born there or overseas to a PAC country citizen.
- Age: The applicant must be between 18 and 45 years old.
- Health: Applicants must be in good health, evidenced by a chest x-ray and a medical examination.
- Character: Applicants must be of good character, with police certificates from their country of citizenship and any other country where they have spent 12 months or more over the last 10 years.
- English Language Proficiency: Applicants must be able to speak English.
- Job Offer: The principal applicant or any partner included in the application must have an acceptable and sustainable full-time and permanent job offer from a New Zealand employer.
- Minimum Income: If invited to apply for residence, applicants need to provide evidence, such as employment agreements, that they and their partner will earn NZD $49,159 or more between them each year.
The Application Process
The application process for the Pacific Access Category involves several steps:
- Registration: Applicants must register for the Pacific Access Category ballot by the closing date. The registration must include copies of birth certificates for the applicant, their partner, and dependent children.
- Ballot Draw: If the applicant's registration number is drawn from the ballot, they may be invited to apply for residence.
- Invitation to Apply for Residence: If invited to apply for residence, applicants must apply within 8 months of being invited.
- Submission of Evidence: Applicants must provide proof of their identity, health, character, citizenship, country of birth, and location. They must also provide evidence of their English language proficiency and a job offer.
- Visa Grant: If the application is successful, the applicant and their family are granted a visa and must come to New Zealand within a specified time.
The Impact on the Pacific Community
The Pacific Access Category has had a significant impact on the Pacific community in New Zealand. It has allowed a considerable number of Pacific Islanders to migrate to New Zealand, providing them with new opportunities for work, education, and a better quality of life. The program has also contributed to the diversity and multicultural fabric of New Zealand society.
The Pacific Access Category represents an important aspect of New Zealand's immigration policy and its relationship with the Pacific nations. By understanding this program, potential applicants and the wider public can gain a deeper appreciation of the opportunities and complexities involved in the immigration process.