Five Pathways to Skilled Residence in New Zealand27 June 2023
Many surveys prove that knowing about their pathways to residence from the get-go is an important factor that migrant workers consider while choosing to move/work in New Zealand. So here is a handy guide put together for you and your international workers when these questions come up.
New Zealand recently welcomed over 200,000 people as residents through the one-off 2021 Resident Visa. Although this visa category was closed on 31 July 2022, the NZ Government has since introduced a number of ‘skilled’ residence categories to attract highly skilled migrants. These ‘skilled’ residence pathways position New Zealand as an attractive destination, with fast-tracked residence options and simplified application processes.
The ‘skilled’ residence categories below require all applicants to meet health & character requirements, the applicable minimum standard of English, and be 55 years of age or younger when applying for residence.
1. Green List - Straight to Residence (Tier 1)
Migrant workers in specific roles in health & social services, construction, primary industries and science, engineering and ICT, electronics and telecommunications may now apply for residency under the Green List Straight to Residence Visa. See the full list of eligible occupations here.
To be eligible for this residence visa, the applicant must be working for an accredited employer or hold a job offer from one, and:
- The role must be on Tier 1 of the Green List.
- They must meet the requirements set out on the list for their role.
- The role must be full-time (at least 30 hours a week), genuine, and permanent, or be at least a 12-month fixed-term contract. Under certain circumstances, independent contractors are also eligible.
2. Green List - Work to Residence (Tier 2)
From September 2023, people who have been working in certain roles for at least 24 months are eligible for residence.
To be eligible for this residence pathway , the applicant must be working for an accredited employer or hold a job offer from one, and:
- Hold an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) or another work visa (Essential Skills Work Visa, Post Study Work Visa, etc.) applied for before 4 July 2022 at the time the residence application is made
- Meet acceptable employment requirements in a Tier 2 Green List occupation
- Have completed 24 months of work in New Zealand in a Tier 2 Green List occupation
Not sure whether this pathway is relevant to you or your workforce? Complete this form for a free initial check.
3. Skilled Migrant Category - 6 Points
From 9 October 2023 you will need 6 points to apply for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident.
You must claim points from at least one section from the blue box below. If you can get all the 6 points from here, then you don’t need anything from the red box. However, if you are short of 6 points, the remaining points can come from the red box. Irrespective of where you claim points from, you must have a ‘skilled’ job offer from an Accredited NZ employer.
Maximum points blue box can give you – 6 points
Maximum points red box can give you – 3 points
This category can sometimes becomes complex to work with if there are challenges with 'substantial match' and 'suitably qualified' requirements of ANZSCO. Read more about the new SMC with 6 points here.
The high income pathway is absorbed into SMC and is no longer a separate category.
4. Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa
From 29 September 2023, people who are working in certain roles for an accredited employer and are paid at Level 4 rate (currently NZD 28.25/hr) or more will be eligible for a 2-year work to residence pathway. Note - they don't have to be working at Level 4, but they have to be paid Level 4 rate for the whole 2 years.
These certain roles are:
- Kaiāwhina (Hauora) (Māori Health Assistant),
- Disabilities Services Officer
- Residential Care Officer
- Aged and Disabled Carers
- Nursing Support Worker
- Personal Care Assistant
- Therapy Aide
- Child or Youth Residential Care Assistant
- Diversional Therapist
To be eligible, the applicant must:
- Hold an AEWV or another work visa (Essential Skills Work Visa, Post Study Work Visa, etc.) applied for before 4 July 2022 at the time the residence application is made
- Be paid at or above the Level 4 rate per hour in a Care Workforce sector occupation list for atleast 2 years.
5. Transport Work to Residence Visa
There following professions will have a time limited, 2-year work to residence pathway through a Transport sector agreement.
- Bus Driver
- Truck Driver
- Aircraft Refueller
- Furniture Removalist
- Tanker Driver
- Tow Truck Driver
- Ship’s Master
- Deck Hand
They must earn median wage for the entire period of work experience (which must be minimum of 2 years counting from 29/09/2023)
The agreement is uncapped and will be reviewed after 12 months. Any changes made to the sector agreement after this review will not affect migrants already on their 2-year work to residence pathway.
Various pathways to residence ensure that New Zealand offers an attractive destination to international workforce that are looking at coming here to fill our talent shortages. Our team works with hundreds of migrants and their families on a weekly basis, to help them decide what is the best pathway to residence for them and have helped thousands of migrants gain residence in NZ over the years. If your candidates or employees are wondering what is the best residence option for them, get them to complete this form for an initial residence eligibility consultation.