Fijian nationals will be eligible to register for a residency ballot under the Pacific Access Category for the first time since the country plunged into a military coup in 2006.
Citizens of Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Fiji will be able to register for this year's ballot under the Pacific Access Category (Pac) and the Samoan Quota from Wed until April 30.
Up to 1100 Samoan citizens, 250 Tongans and 75 citizens from Tuvalu and Kiribati are selected by ballot each year for the grant of New Zealand residency.
"Following the restoration of democracy in Fiji, 250 citizens of Fiji will also now be eligible for residence each year under the Pac starting this year," Immigration New Zealand said in a statement.
"Immigration instructions recognise the special relationship between New Zealand and Samoa and the Pac countries."
To be eligible for the ballot, applicants must be aged between 18 and 45, but some are calling for a waiver on the age restrictions for Fijian citizens.
"There are more than a hundred Fijians living here who have nothing to do with the coup, and banning them since 2006 is just penalising the innocent," said immigration adviser Tika Ram.
Mr Ram said many would have qualified for residency and is asking Immigration New Zealand to "do the right thing" to accept Fijian applications without ballot.
However Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said there were no plans to make any changes to specific criteria for Fijian nationals.
"The criteria is generic to all registrants under Pac across all four countries," Mr Woodhouse said.
As part of the requirement, the principal applicant must have an acceptable job offer from a New Zealand employer.
If selected in the ballot, they will have until March 7 next year to lodge their residence visa application.
Mother of four, Ranjini Raj, who moved from Nadi to Auckland in 2007 to work, said the ban against Fijians for nearly a decade was "unfair".
"All this while, I have been working and meeting all my obligations as good worker in New Zealand," said Ms Raj, who works as a quality assurance officer.
"In 2006, I was 40 years of age ... and I could have lodged by application as a Fiji citizen without the need for ballot then.
"Now I am 49, which means I will not be eligible ... I cannot help growing older over the period of the ban, and it's just unfair."
Ms Raj said she was "very settled" here and has a New Zealand-born, citizen daughter.
"This is where my family is and this is home, but I sometimes wonder where is the justice and fairness," she added.
Registering for the Samoan Quota is free, but Fijians and the others have to pay a $70 registration fee, those applying from Fiji face an additional fee of FJD$19 (NZ$12).