By the end of this year, the country is expected to have more new residents than any previous year on record.

As of June 6, more than 99,300 applications for the 2021 Resident Visa had been received by Immigration New Zealand.

Of these, 23,800 applications (52,900 people) have been approved for residency.

British-born applicant Topaz Dominique has lived in Wanaka for the past eight years and said the new visa guidelines felt like a “miracle”.

“There’s not many pathways to residency. It’s taken a very long time, and life through those years has felt very stagnant,” she said.

She arrived in New Zealand in 2014 on a two-year working holiday visa, which transitioned into a sponsored working visa.

Ms Dominique said being dependent on sponsorship was difficult due to restrictions.

“It’s just waiting for your freedom, really, and living in a country that feels like home, but not having the freedoms like everyone else who lives here and grew up here, is difficult.”

She believed Covid-19 had made the Government and business owners appreciate immigrants’ contributions more.

Applications for those seeking the 2021 Resident Visa opened in December last year.

The eligibility criteria extends to those who have lived in New Zealand longer than the past three years, earn a median wage of $27 per hour or work in a role in which skilled workers are scarce.