Saturday, July 20, 2024

Govt opens new residence pathways

The Government has announced three new residency pathways as part of its ongoing immigration rebalance efforts.

A Straight to Residence pathway will be opened for applications from 5 September 2022; with Work to Residence and Highly Paid pathways to open from September 2023.

“The Government is focused on helping to address shortages in highly skilled areas and speeding up our economic growth. Key to this is having clear pathways that migrants can use to gain residency,” said Immigration Minister, Michael Wood.

“From 5 September, skilled workers in specified occupations will be able to apply for the Straight to Residence pathway. Skilled migrants on the ‘Work to Residence’ and ‘Highly Paid’ resident pathways will be able to apply from 29 September 2023, once they have obtained 24 months of acceptable work in New Zealand.

“The Green List covers areas where New Zealand has a skills shortage and these pathways will incentivise and attract high skilled migrants to New Zealand, by providing a new streamlined process to achieve residency for those globally hard to fill roles.”

The Minister said the move was the latest step in the Government’s delivery of a rebalanced immigration system that was simple, had reduced categories, and improved online accessibility.

“The Government is rebalancing the immigration system to support its plan for a higher-productivity, higher wage economy and these pathways make it easier for employers to hire and attract migrants for specified high skilled, hard-to-fill, and high paying occupations,” he said.

“The new Straight to Residence and Work to Residence pathways are available for specified occupations on the Green List.”

Mr Wood said the new pathways would have the same health, age, and character requirements as the Skilled Migrant Category but will have a more straightforward application process with much faster decision times.

Immigration New Zealand expects to complete most applications within six weeks where complete information has been provided, he said.

“People working in Work to Residence or Highly Paid occupations can count their two years from 29 September 2021. In general, they will also need to be on an Accredited Employer Work Visa, although provisions have been made for people who have already started working in these roles on other work visas before 4 July.”

“Many skilled migrants in New Zealand will already be eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa but we are backdating when work in New Zealand can be counted to ensure that the small number of people who aren’t eligible for the 2021 Resident Visa can still have some work in New Zealand recognised for the new Work to Residence and Highly Paid pathways.

“These new pathways help provide more certainty and a streamlined path for those we are looking to attract. These are not the only pathway to skilled residence, and they are intended to complement the Skilled Migrant Category.”

He said the Government was currently reviewing the category to identify which other skills New Zealand wishes to attract and retain. Details about the new settings and when the category will reopen are expected to be announced in the coming months.

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 are different from the requirements for temporary work visas.

Straight to Residence and Work to Residence Pathways

  • The main requirement for both Green List pathways is the need to have a job in, or job offer for, one of the Green List occupations and meet the specified requirements on the list for the said occupation.
  • The employment or offer of employment must also be full-time (at least 30 hours per week), genuine, and be permanent or for at least a 12-month fixed term contract.
  • The Straight to Residence visa provides a straight to residence pathway. Eligible migrants employed 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 residence can also be applied for 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 having worked in an occupation on the Green List and meeting the specified requirements for that occupation for the duration of the 24 month period. 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 pathway to residence for people who were paid at least two times the median wage (currently $55.52 per hour) over a 24-month period 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 having earned 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 small number of 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 as 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 fee for the Skilled Migrant Category.

More information about the three new pathways will be available on the Immigration New Zealand website.

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