The New Zealand Skilled Residence Pathways

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Did you know that there are five New Zealand skilled residence pathways? These pathways offer you the opportunity to live and work in one of the best countries in the world.

With two of the pathways, you can apply for residence straight away. You must have work experience in New Zealand to apply for the remaining three pathways.

The outcome, however, remains the same if your application is successful – you’ll be able to live in New Zealand permanently.

1. Skilled Migrant Category

The Skilled Migrant Category is for migrants with skills needed in New Zealand.

You’ll apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa under this category to obtain residence. You’ll get residence immediately if your application is successful.

To qualify for a Skilled Migrant Visa, you must have an acceptable skilled job or job offer from an accredited New Zealand employer and score 6 points.

Acceptable employment

Immigration New Zealand accepts a job or job offer as ‘acceptable’ if it is:

  • At least 30 hours a week
  • Either in an AZSCO Level 1 to 3 occupation and paid at or above the median wage or in an ANZSCO Level 4 to 5 occupation and paid at or above 1.5 times the median wage
  • On a permanent contract or fixed-term contract for at least 12 months

Qualifying points score

You must score 6 points to submit an Expression of Interest. You can claim three to six points from:

  • New Zealand occupation registration, or
  • Qualification (Bachelor’s degree or higher), or
  • Income from a job or job offer (earning at least 1.5 times the median wage)

You can only claim points from one of the above categories. You cannot combine points from multiple categories.

However, you can also claim 1 point for each year of skilled work in New Zealand up to a maximum of three points. You can combine these points with points from one of the three points categories.

2. Green List Straight to Residence

You can apply for the Green List Straight to Residence pathway if your occupation is on Tier 1 of the Green List.

You must have an acceptable job or job offer from an accredited New Zealand employer, but you do not need work experience in New Zealand to apply as you do with the Work to Residence pathways.

Acceptable employment

Immigration New Zealand accepts a job or job offer as ‘acceptable’ if:

  • You meet the role’s requirements as listed on the Green List, such as median wage or salary threshold, registration, professional membership, or qualifications
  • The role is permanent, or fixed term for at least 12 months or a contract or contracts for six months or longer, and full-time, i.e. at least 30 hours per week

3. Green List Work to Residence

You can apply for the Green List Work to Residence pathway if your occupation is on Tier 2 of the Green List.

You must also have 24 months of relevant work experience in New Zealand and hold a work visa at the time of your residence application. This work visa is typically an Accredited Employer Work Visa, but it could also be other eligible work visas.

As with the other residence pathways, you must have an acceptable job or job offer from an accredited New Zealand employer.

Acceptable employment

Immigration New Zealand accepts a job or job offer as ‘acceptable’ if:

  • You meet the occupation’s specified qualification, registration, and wage requirements as listed on the Green List
  • The role is full-time and permanent or fixed-term for at least 12 months, and full-time, i.e. at least 30 hours per week.

4. Care Workforce Work to Residence

The Care Workforce Work to Residence pathway is for migrants in care workforce occupations.

You can apply for this residence pathway if you have an acceptable job or job offer from an accredited New Zealand employer and have worked in a care workforce role in New Zealand for 24 months.

Like with the Green List Work to Residence pathway, you must hold a visa that allows you to work at the time of your residence application.

Acceptable employment

Immigration New Zealand accepts a job or job offer as ‘acceptable’ if:

  • You meet the occupation’s specified qualification, registration, and wage requirements
  • The role is full-time and permanent or fixed-term for at least 12 months, and full-time, i.e. at least 30 hours per week.

5. Transport Sector Work to Residence

The Transport Sector Work to Residence pathway is for migrants in transport occupations.

You can apply for this residence pathway if you have an acceptable job or job offer from an accredited New Zealand employer. You must also have 24 months of New Zealand work experience in a land or maritime transport job in high demand.

You must also hold a visa that allows you to work at the time of your residence application.

Acceptable employment

Immigration New Zealand accepts a job or job offer as ‘acceptable’ if:

  • You meet the occupation’s specified qualification, registration, and wage requirements
  • The role is full-time, i.e. at least 30 hours per week, and permanent or fixed-term for at least 12 months

Other requirements

In addition to the specific criteria of each skilled residence pathway, you must also meet these requirements to apply for a New Zealand resident visa:

  • You’re 55 or younger
  • You have an acceptable level of English
  • You meet New Zealand’s health and character requirements

It is only when you meet all the immigration requirements associated with residence that you’ll be able to apply.

The New Zealand residence application process

When it comes to the application process, the Skilled Migrant Category follows a different process than the rest of the residence pathways. It has more steps, and you must get an invitation to apply.

However, with both types of applications, you may include your partner and dependent children aged 24 or under in your residence application.

Here’s a breakdown of how to apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa, followed by an explanation of the Straight to Residence and Work to Residence application process.

The Skilled Migrant Category application process

To apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa, you must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI).

The EOI is how you’ll show Immigration New Zealand (INZ) that you’re interested in applying for a Skilled Migrant Visa.

Your EOI will include the following details:

  • Personal information, for example, your name and surname, date of birth, countries of citizenship and/or residence
  • Your nominated occupation
  • Work experience and employment history
  • English language proficiency

INZ automatically selects EOIs with 6 points for verification, and qualifying candidates may get an invitation to apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa.

In turn, the invitation to apply will include the following information:

  • The visa subclass under which you’re getting an invitation to apply
  • The time frame within which you must submit your visa application
  • Any additional information INZ needs, if applicable

If you get an invitation to apply, you can submit your visa application for residence within 4 months. You can apply from overseas or while in New Zealand.

The Straight to Residence and Work to Residence application process

The Straight to Residence and Work to Residence application process is straightforward compared to that of the Skilled Migrant Category. You’ll gather the required documents and submit your application online.

Living as a resident in New Zealand

Resident status in New Zealand offers you freedom! You’ll be allowed to live and work in New Zealand indefinitely. You’ll also be able to study, and your family will enjoy the same rights as you do as residents.

Recapping the New Zealand Skilled Residence Pathways

New Zealand offers five Skilled Residence Pathways to skilled migrants. These pathways include the Skilled Migrant Category, the Green List Straight to Residence and Work to Residence pathways, and a Work to Residence pathway to migrants in care workforce and transport occupations.

Each pathway has unique requirements, but applicants must be 55 years old or younger, in good health and of good character, and must have an acceptable level of English.

Eligible applicants can include their immediate family in their residence applications, and successful applicants can live and work in New Zealand indefinitely.

Getting assistance with your residence application

Immigration is complex, and most people find it overwhelming. That is why so many people opt to work with an immigration advisor.

When you choose us, you’ll get a clear and understandable action plan. You’ll know exactly what to expect and what to do at every step of your residence application.

Rest assured that you’ll get advice you can trust – our advisors are licensed and registered with the New Zealand Immigration Advisers Authority.

To get in touch with our team, simply book a consultation call. It’s a 30-minute consultation call during which you’ll find out if you’re eligible for New Zealand residence.

Why wait? Book your consultation call now to take the first step on your immigration journey!

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