It’s now easier for skilled migrants to become residents of New Zealand


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Over 160,000 people have become New Zealand residents now that 80 per cent of 2021 Resident Visa (2021RV) applications have been processed.

“The 2021 Resident Visa is one of a number of measures the Government has taken to keep and attract workers to New Zealand to help fill the global skills shortage post COVID,” said Immigration Minister Michael Wood.

“We created New Zealand’s largest one-off path to residence in late 2021 to give migrants certainty about their future here, and allow them to continue to put down roots.

“Within the 160,000 Kiwis who now call New Zealand home the top occupations represented were nurses, early childhood education teachers, software engineers, and primary school teachers.

“We’re working with businesses to take practicable steps to unlock additional labour through the streamlined Accredited Employer Work Visa, the expansion of the Green List, reopening the Pacific Access Category and Samoa Quota, delivering the largest increase in a decade to the RSE scheme, and resuming the Skilled Migrant Category and Parent Category so as to strengthen our international offering.

“We’re also seeing huge demand for visitor and work visas, in particular the Working Holiday Scheme for which we have now granted over 53,300 visas, and welcomed over 33,900 of those holding these visas into the country.

“We’ve been moving quickly to review applications and have reached this important milestone of 80 per cent of 2021RV applications processed three months earlier than scheduled. The quick work to process the vast majority of applications in 15 months is equivalent to around five years of standard residence processing.

The Government has announced new residence categories that will make it easier for skilled migrants (including Engineers) to settle in New Zealand.  

There will be three new residence pathways:

  • Straight to residence pathway
  • Work to residence pathway
  • Highly paid pathway

The Straight to Residence pathway will be ready for people to apply for from 5 September 2022. The Work to Residence and Highly Paid pathways require people to have worked for 24 months and will be available for people to apply from 29 September 2023.

The Straight to Residence and Work to Residence relate to the respective Green List occupations, which allow employers to complete a Job Check for the Accredited Employer Work Visa without proof of advertising as long as the minimum requirements for the role at least match the minimum requirements.

At the same time, the new Highly Paid resident visa is for those earning twice the median wage.

These new visas are not the only pathway to skilled residence.

They are intended to complement the Skilled Migrant Category with the same health, age, and character requirements but a different, more straightforward application process.

More information about the three new pathways will be available on the Immigration New Zealand website here: New residence categories announced | Immigration New Zealand 

Eligibility Criteria

The new pathways will have the same health, age, and character requirements as the Skilled Migrant Category. Still, they will have a different application process and be more straightforward to apply for, with much faster decision times. Immigration New Zealand expects to complete most applications within six weeks once complete information has been provided.

To be eligible for these pathways, people must meet the following requirements:

  • are aged 55 or younger at the time the resident visa application is made (aligned to the Skilled Migrant Category age limit);
  • principal applicants and partners need to meet the English language requirements set out in the Skilled Migrant Category at the time the resident visa application is made;
  • meet standard health and character requirements for residence
  • the employer must be accredited at the time the resident visa is applied for
  • a person holding an Accredited Employer Work Visa in an eligible occupation will still need to meet the health and character requirements (for them and their family) for residence, which differ from the requirements for temporary work visas.

Straight to Residence and Work to Residence Pathways

  • The main requirement for both Green List pathways is to have a job in, or job offer for, one of the Green List occupations and meet the specified conditions on the list for the said occupation.
  • The employment or offer must also be full-time (at least 30 hours per week), genuine, and permanent or for at least a 12-month fixed-term contract.
  • The Straight Residence visa provides a straight-to-residence pathway. Eligible migrants in these occupations can come to New Zealand on a work visa from 4 July and apply for residence from 5 September 2022. From 5 September 2022, residents can also be used directly from offshore.
  • Contractors are eligible for the Green List Straight to Residence pathway, provided applicants meet some additional criteria.
  • The Work to Residence visa differs as the applicant must also demonstrate they have at least 24 months of acceptable work in New Zealand. Acceptable work means working in an occupation on the Green List and meeting the specified requirements for that occupation for 24 months. This work in New Zealand can only be claimed on or after 29 September 2021. Work must be on an AEWV unless the person had commenced work on another visa before 4 July 2022.

Highly Paid Resident Pathways

  • The Highly Paid resident pathway was created to provide a way to residence for people who were paid at least two times the median wage (currently $55.52 per hour) over 24 months while working in New Zealand.
  • Similar to the Work to Residence work experience requirements, the principal applicant must demonstrate they have at least 24 months of acceptable work in New Zealand. Acceptable work means earning at or above two times the median wage for at least 24 months.
  • This work in New Zealand can only be claimed on or after 29 September 2021. This aligns with the 2021 Resident Visa and ensures that the few people who do not qualify for this can still have some work in New Zealand recognised.
  • The two times median wage amount will be updated annually in February based on the June quarter median hourly earnings from wages and salaries published by Statistics New Zealand.

The application fee and levy will be between $4,020 and $4,890 depending on whether the applicant is applying from within New Zealand or another part of the world. This fee is aligned with the price for the Skilled Migrant Category.

Source: New Zealand Government

Source: © 2022 Immigration New Zealand

Source: New Zealand Government 


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