By Elly Fleming
29 July 2022
Immigration New Zealand released further detail about the three new residence pathways for migrant workers this week.
First announced by the Prime Minister on 11 May as part of a major immigration reform package, the Green Lists are now inching towards reality with applications for the first of the three categories (Straight to Residence) opening on 5 September.
The other two categories are more than a year away however – prospective applicants for ‘Work to Residence’ and ‘Highly Paid’ (more than twice the median wage) categories will be waiting until at least 29 September 2023, although their two years of work required to qualify for residence can be backdated to a start date of 29 September 2021.
Touted as a rebalancing of the immigration system to address the country’s immediate skill shortages and speed up our economic recovery from COVID-19, the reforms might not be moving as swiftly as some employers will be hoping for – some desperately so (healthcare worker crisis sound familiar?) Nonetheless, Minister Michael Wood’s announcements this week give employers, and prospective new migrants, real milestones to plan around.
Pitt & Moore advisors can explain the new immigration rules and processes exactly as they apply to you and your business, so please contact us for some expert navigation and advice.
The three categories apply to people working in more than 85 hard-to-fill roles on the Tier 1 and Tier 2 Green Lists, and those earning at least twice the median wage. The streamlined and prioritised pathways to residency aim to incentivise high-skilled healthcare, engineers, trade and tech sector workers to relocate to New Zealand long term.
There are two tiers to the Green List.
People in Tier 1 occupations are eligible for the straight to residence pathway, meaning they can apply for residency as soon as they arrive in New Zealand. The occupations include construction, engineering, health and social sciences, primary industries and sciences, ICT, telecommunications and electronics roles, including independent contractors in these roles.
People in Tier 2 occupations are eligible for the Work to Residence pathway and can apply for residence after two years (backdated from 29 September 2021). The occupations include health and social services, trades and agricultural roles.
For either tier, employers still need to be accredited for the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) but can complete job checks without proof of advertising (other conditions apply).
Immigration processes come with varying degrees of paperwork and a range of fees. These visa categories are on the high end of fees ranging from NZD $4020 to $4890. For employers, the two Green List tiers mean that they can skip the labour market test requirement of the AEWV process – the complexities of which I described in an earlier blog.
As usual the devil is in the detail and there are plenty of fishhooks in the immigration rules for each of these pathways to residence. The following are the key requirements:
In addition, to be eligible for Green List pathways applicants must:
Straight to Residence applicants’ employment offer must:
Applicants for the Highly Paid pathway must:
To minimise time wastage and hassle we recommend seeking specialist advice. Getting the right advice early will also reduce the likelihood of having an application declined.
We offer an initial 15-minute free consultation to all new clients to discuss your particular circumstances and what services we can provide.
What sets us apart is that we are experts in each step of the immigration process as well as in employment law. This means that we can advise on all immigration, employment and visa-related issues.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.