Immigration News: April 2023

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During April 2023, Immigration New Zealand added over 50 occupations to the Green List and finalised the Work the Residence pathway details for the transport sector.

There was also good news for New Zealanders living in Australia. The Australian government announced a direct pathway to citizenship for eligible New Zealanders living Down Under!

1. The Green List now includes 59 new skilled occupations

New Zealand announced in April that it’s adding 32 healthcare occupations to the Green List and 27 professions to the Work to Residence pathway. Eligible health professionals can apply for Accredited Employer Work visas from 29 May 2023.

32 Healthcare roles:

New Zealand said that the 32 roles it’s adding to the Green List are ‘critical to the delivery of health services in New Zealand’. These are as follows:

  • Addiction Practitioner/Alcohol & Drug Clinician
  • Audiometrist
  • Chiropractor
  • Clinical Dental Technician
  • Clinical Physiologists (Sleep, Renal, Exercise, Respiratory, Neurology, and Cardiac)
  • Counsellor
  • Dental Specialists
  • Dental Technician
  • Dental Therapist
  • Dentist
  • Dietician
  • Dispensing Optician
  • Drug and Alcohol Counsellor
  • Enrolled Nurse
  • Genetic Counsellor
  • Medical Laboratory Pre-Analytical Technician
  • Medical Resonance Imaging Technologist
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Optometrist
  • Oral Health Therapist
  • Orthotic and Prosthetic Technician
  • Orthotist/Prosthetist
  • Osteopath
  • Paramedic/Emergency Medical Technician
  • Perfusionist (Cardiac)
  • Pharmacist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Play Therapist (Hospital)
  • Social Worker
  • Speech-Language Therapist
  • Sterile Processing Technician

These roles and all other healthcare occupations on the Green List will qualify for the Straight to Residence pathway. That means eligible professionals don’t have work in New Zealand for two years before applying for residence.

27 Work to Residence occupations:

New Zealand is adding over 20 roles across different sectors to the Green List’s Work to Residence pathway to help address labour shortages.

These roles are as follows:

  • Auditor:
    • External Auditor
    • Internal Auditor
  • Civil Construction Supervisors
    • Building Associate
  • Drainlayers
  • Gasfitters
  • Skilled crane operators
  • Crane, Hoist or Lifter Operator
    • Skilled civil machine operators
    • Earthmoving Plant Operator (General)
    • Backhoe Operator
    • Bulldozer Operator
    • Excavator Operator
    • Grader Operator
    • Loader Operator
  • Halal slaughterers
    • Slaughterer
  • Skilled motor mechanics
    • Motor mechanic – General
    • Motorcycle mechanic
  • Skilled telecommunications technicians
    • Telecommunications Technician
  • Teachers
    • School Principal
    • Kaiako Kura Kaupapa Māori – Māori-medium Primary School Teacher
    • Pouako Kura Kaupapa Māori – Māori-medium Primary School Senior Teacher
    • Primary School Teacher
    • Middle School Teacher / Intermediate School Teacher
    • Secondary School Teachers
    • Special Needs Teacher
    • Teacher of the Hearing Impaired
    • Teacher of the Sight Impaired
    • Special Education Teachers nec
    • Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages – if working in a primary, intermediate or secondary school

2. Transport sector agreement details for Work to Residence confirmed

In December 2022, the Minister of Immigration and Transport announced a transport sector agreement with a Work to Residence pathway for truck and bus drivers. It was later announced that this agreement would include critical maritime transport roles.

Immigration New Zealand has now confirmed that residence applications under the transport sector agreement will open on 29 September 2023 to eligible candidates.

The occupations included under the agreement are the following:

  • Bus drivers working for an eligible employer in an eligible role
  • Truck drivers primarily driving vehicles that require a class 4 or 5 licence
  • Ship’s masters (skippers) holding a Skipper Restricted Limits for 500GT endorsement or higher qualification by the time of applying for residence
  • Deck hands holding a Qualified Deck Crew or higher qualification by the time of applying for residence

Bus drivers get a median wage exemption

Employers will have a median wage exemption set at NZ$28 an hour when hiring bus drivers for an eligible role on an Accredited Employer Work Visa.

To be eligible for the exemption, the role must either:

  • Be for an employer who has signed the All Parties Memorandum of Understanding on Improving Bus Driver Pay and Conditions, or
  • Be a school bus driver on a Ministry of Education-funded school bus service

Bus drivers hire under this agreement will be eligible for Accredited Employer Work Visas for three years, despite being paid below the median wage.

3. Direct pathway to Australian citizenship for New Zealanders

On 22 April 2023, Australia announced a new direct pathway to Australian citizenship for eligible New Zealand citizens. The pathway comes into effect on 1 July 2023, and applies to Special Category Visas (Subclass 444) who’ve arrived in Australia since 2001.

This immigration policy change will make it much easier for New Zealanders to obtain Australian citizenship:

  • It won’t be necessary for eligible New Zealanders to become permanent residents before applying for citizenship. Instead, all that’s required is four years of having lived in Australia and being able to meet the standard citizenship criteria.
  • Eligible New Zealanders also won’t have to meet minimum income requirements or health criteria.
  • New Zealand children born in Australia will become citizens at birth instead of only getting citizenship at 10 years old.

The policy change also brings the rights of New Zealanders living in Australia more in line with those of Australians living in New Zealand. New Zealanders will have access to services and benefits associated with citizenship, such as student loans and unemployment benefits.

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