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Your Guide to New Zealand Residence: Unravelling the Skilled Migrant Category and Green List Pathway

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Over the past two years, New Zealand made significant changes to its skilled migrant residence framework to meet the high demand for skilled workers in its labour market. Last week, the latest Skilled Migrant Category policy was confirmed, providing various pathways for applicants, all of which necessitate skilled employment. In this article, we'll provide detailed information on these pathways to help clear any confusion.


There are three potential pathways based on your skilled employment in New Zealand that enable you to obtain New Zealand residence, including:

  • The Skilled Migrant Resident pathway

  • The Green List pathway (Tier 1 and Tier 2)

  • The Care Workforce and Transport Work to Residence pathways

All three options lead to the same outcome: becoming a New Zealand resident. However, certain pathways may allow you to apply for residence immediately upon securing employment in New Zealand (such as Green List Tier 1 positions, straight 6 points of SMC), whereas others require a period of employment before becoming eligible for residency, e.g., Green List Tier 2 positions,Care Workforce and Transport sector agreements pathways.


To achieve residency efficiently, it's essential to understand these categories and policies thoroughly. By navigating the system effectively, you can streamline your path towards New Zealand residency.

 

The Skilled Migrant Resident pathway


The existing Skilled Migrant Category will be discontinued in August 2023. Under the current system, eligibility requires a minimum threshold of 180 points, which is calculated based on factors such as age, qualifications, skilled employment in New Zealand, work experience, and potential bonus point options.


The new Skilled Migrant Category will come into effect in October 2023, introducing a significant change from the previous point system to a simplified 6-point system. The main changes are:

  • Mandatory Employment in New Zealand: Applicants must have a job or a job offer in New Zealand with an accredited employer.

  • Removal of Skilled Migrant Cap: There will no longer be a cap on skilled migrants, allowing more individuals to qualify for residence.

  • Simplified 6-Point System: The revised system focuses on a clear skills threshold based on New Zealand occupational registration, recognised qualifications, or income. It eliminates points for age, location of employment, and partner's bonus points etc.

The standard criteria related to age limit, English language proficiency, health, and character will remain the same.


SMC 6-points System (opens 9 October 2023)


To meet the eligibility criteria under the simplified points system, applicants must accumulate a minimum of 6 points via the following:

  • 3 to 6 points based on your New Zealand professional registration, qualifications, or income. The exact number of points awarded will depend on the specific circumstances in these categories.

  • 1 point per year of skilled work in New Zealand, up to a maximum of 3 points.

Four different ways to achieve 6 points:


1. 6 Points: Obtain New Zealand registration in an occupation that requires a minimum of 6 years of training, or possess a PhD or doctorate, or secure a job in New Zealand with a salary at least three times the median wage. Any one of these criteria alone is worth 6 points, allowing you to apply for the visa straight away without having prior skilled work experience in New Zealand.


2. 5 Points: Gain New Zealand registration in a specified occupation requiring at least 5 years of training, or hold a Master's degree.


AND, You can earn an additional point by having 1 year of skilled work experience in New Zealand on any work visa.


3. 4 Points: Acquire New Zealand registration in a specified occupation that demands at least 4 years of training, or possess an Honours Degree or Post-graduate Diploma, or secure a job or job offer in New Zealand with a salary at least twice the median wage.


AND, you can obtain 2 extra points by having 2 years of skilled work experience in New Zealand on any work visa.


4. 3 Points: Attain New Zealand registration in a specified occupation requiring at least 2 years of training, or hold a Bachelor's Degree or Post-graduate Certificate, or secure a job or job offer in New Zealand with a salary at least 1.5 times the median wage.


AND, you can earn an additional 3 points by having 3 years of skilled work experience in New Zealand on any work visa.

 

Green List Pathway


There are two options for applying for residence through the Green List pathway.


1. Tier 1 positions (Straight to Residence): Open


If you have a job offer for an occupation listed in Tier 1 and you meet the specified qualification, registration, and wage requirements, you are eligible to apply for the Straight to Residence Visa.


2. Tier 2 positions (Work to Residence): Opens 29 September 2023


If you have a job or job offer for an occupation listed in Tier 2 and you meet the specified qualification, registration, and wage requirements, you must have 2 years of relevant work experience in New Zealand on a specified visa. After fulfilling this requirement, you can apply for the Work to Residence Visa.

 

Care Workforce and Transport Work to Residence (Opens 29 September 2023)


For individuals with a job or job offer in a specified sector agreement within the Care Workforce or Transport sector, and who meet the specified qualification, registration, and wage requirements, the following steps apply:

  1. Acquire 2 years of relevant work experience in New Zealand on a specified visa.

  2. After completing the 2-year work requirement, you are eligible to apply for either the Care Workforce or the Transport Workforce Work to Residence Visa.

Roles in Care Workforce (9 in total) with ANZSCO codes in brackets

Roles in Transport (subject to specific requirements and changes) with ANZSCO codes in brackets

  • Aged or disabled carer (423111)

  • Child or youth residential care assistant (423411)

  • Disabilities services officer (411712)

  • Kaiāwhina (hauora) (Māori health assistant) (411512)

  • Nursing support worker (423312)

  • Personal care assistant (423313)

  • Residential care officer (411715)

  • Therapy aide (423314)

  • Diversional Therapist (411311)

  • Bus driver (731211)

  • Truck Driver (733111)

  • Aircraft Refueller (733112)

  • Furniture Removalist (733113)

  • Tanker Driver (733114)

  • Tow Truck Driver (733115)

  • Deck Hand (899211)

  • Ship’s Master (231231)

The introduction of the new Skilled Migrant Category with its simplified 6-point system and the various pathways, such as the Green List and the Care Workforce and Transport Work to Residence, provide opportunities for individuals with different qualifications and work experience.


But navigating the pathways to New Zealand residence is daunting for many people – which is understandable given you are essentially packing up your life and moving to another country; there are a lot of uncertainties.


This is why you need to make sure you are on the right pathway and meet all the requirements before you get too far into the journey.

 

How can we help?


To ensure you are on the right track and meet the requirements, our firm offers a consultation service is available for a fee. This service assesses your personal circumstances, provides guidance on the correct pathway, breaks down the steps involved, and informs you about the timeline and costs of the process. If you would like to book a consult with one of our team, you can do so here:


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