In May 2022, the Government announced the new Green List based residence and work to residence pathways. The scheme is aimed at attracting migrants for a small number of high skilled, hard to fill occupations which had been identified as being in high demand globally and in ongoing shortage in New Zealand.
The Green List pathways are split into two subcategories: Straight to Residence and Work to Residence. There was an additional third work to residence pathway announced at the same time, the Highly Paid pathway. Fast forward to today (September 2022) and the first of the three, Straight to Residence, has now opened (5 September). If you are thinking of applying under one of the pathways, now is a good time to refresh on the requirements.
The generic requirements to qualify for either a resident visa or a work to resident visa under the Green List categories include:
- Being 55 years of age or younger;
- Meeting standard health and character requirements for residence;
- Meeting English Language requirements (at least IELTS score of 6.5 for the main applicant);
- Being employed by or having a job offer from an Accredited Employer in a full-time role which appears on the Green List; and
- Meeting the criteria of the role as stipulated on the Green List.
Depending on the pathway you are considering, further requirements include
Straight to Residence pathway:
- The employment must be permanent or on at least a 12-month contract;
- In some situations, independent contractors may also be eligible where the contract for services totals at least 6 months;
- The employment or offer of employment must be for an occupation on Tier 1 of the Green List; and
- Minimum salary requirements for some roles.
Roles in the Straight to Residence pathway include but are not limited to ICT, Telecom and Electronics, engineering, construction, health, primary industries and sciences. Applications are open for this category.
Work to Residence pathway:
- The applicant must be employed in a role on Tier 2 of the Green List with an Accredited Employer;
- The employment must be permanent or on at least a 12-month contract; and
- Must have worked in this role for 24 months from or after 29 September 2021 and this must have been done in the 30-month timeframe immediately preceding the date the residence visa application is submitted.
Roles in the Work to Residence pathway include social services, farming and agricultural, teaching, medical, trades amongst some others.
Highly Paid Work to Residence Pathway:
- Meet the generic requirements listed above except the requirement for the employment to be on the Green List;
- Current employment with an Accredited Employer;
- Remuneration must be at least twice the median wage;
- Hold an accredited employer work visa or another work visa applied for before 4 July 2022 at the time the residence application is submitted; and
- Maintain acceptable employment for at least 24 months from or after 29 September 2021 and this must have been done in the 30-month timeframe immediately preceding the date the residence visa application is made.
The full list of roles and their detailed requirements can be found on Immigration New Zealand’s website.
What are our thoughts?
The Green List is part of the Government’s Immigration Rebalance strategy aimed at shifting New Zealand towards a higher skilled migrant workforce better aligned to cater for actual skill gaps in our economy.
We note that some roles that have seen labour shortages in the past few years have been deliberately excluded from the List. There is an expectation that with the borders now open, these will be filled with migrants coming in on temporary visas.
The English language requirement and the mandatory qualifications requirement for some listed occupations can be viewed as posing some significant hurdles under this category. There may be situations where a migrant may be highly skilled, by virtue of a relevant work experience or a different qualification, but not have the exact qualification that the List requires.
Similarly, migrants who can speak, read, and write English to a high standard may not be able to secure the IELTS 6.5 equivalent score necessary for eligibility. The test may simply deter people from trying to come to New Zealand in favour of countries deemed more accessible at this time.
In our view, the Green List is a seemingly straightforward pathway to residence if you ‘tick all the boxes’. In the absence of the Skilled Migrant Category (which is still under review), the Green List and Highly Paid pathways form part of a very small set of residency options currently available for eligible skilled migrants in New Zealand.
In the uncertain immigration landscape in which we are currently operating, it would be prudent to obtain a detailed eligibility assessment before you apply under these pathways. A small error or oversight at the outset can be costly both in terms of time and money further down the track.
At TODD & WALKER Law we have an expert immigration team that can assist with the latest Immigration news, information, and application requirements. For assistance contact our immigration expert Hetish Lochan on [email protected] or +64 (0)21 075 8147.