Inching closer to Green List residence applications

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.

It’s been a while. Remind me about the Green List again?

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).

Is it a smooth or bumpy pathway to residency?

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:

  • be 55 years old or younger 
  • be able to meet the Skilled Migrant Category English language requirements, 
  • be able to meet standard health and character requirements for residence, and 
  • have or have been offered a job with an accredited employer.

In addition, to be eligible for Green List pathways applicants must:

  • have or have been offered a full-time role (at least 30 hours a week), 
  • have or have been offered a Green List job, and  
  • meet the requirements of that Green List job. 

Straight to Residence applicants’ employment offer must:

  • be for at least 12 months, or, 
  • be a contract or contracts for services totalling at least six months.   

Applicants for the Highly Paid pathway must:

  • hold an Accredited Employer work visa or another work visa applied for before 4 July 2022 at the time the residence application is made.
  • demonstrate they have had acceptable work for at least 24 months in the 30-month period before the resident visa application is made. This can be accrued from 29 September 2021. 
  • have earned at or above two times the median wage for at least 24 months. 

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.  

Talk to us

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.

Elly Fleming

Elly Fleming

Position: Associate
DDI: +64 3 545 6714

Topics: All Select