The government have just released the policy for three new residence categories which eligible migrants may apply under.

These are:

  1. Skilled Residence – Straight to Residence Tier 1 (STR)
    1. For those working in an occupation on the Tier 1 list
  2. Skilled Residence – Work to Residence Tier 2 (WTR)
    1. For those who have worked for 24 months in an occupation on the Tier 2 list
  3. Skilled Residence - Highly Paid (HP)
    1. For those who have been paid at least two times the median wage ($55.52 per hour) for their employment, for 24 months

We have outlined, in brief, a summary of the requirements for each of the three subcategories.

Generic application requirements

All principal applicants must show that:

  • They are aged 55 years or younger
  • They meet the English Language requirements under the Skilled Migrant Category (overall score of 6.5 IELTS or equivalent)
  • They meet health and character requirements
  • They have an offer of employment from, or are employed by, an accredited employer
  • They are employed full-time (at least 30 hours weekly)
  • The employment is full-time or fixed term for at least 12 months
  • The employment is genuine and not offered as a result of the employee paying the employer

Dependents children and partners will also need to meet requirements including health, character and English requirements (where applicable). Pre-Purchase of ESOL tuition is available for secondary applicants who do not meet the English test requirements.

All STR, WTR and HP residence applications will be prioritised over other skilled residence applications, including 2021 Resident Visa (2021RV) applications.

Independent contractors can also utilise the STR, WTR and HP pathways if they meet the requirements (here).

Green List – Straight to Residence

STR applications can be submitted from 5 September 2022. Principal applicants will need to show:

  • That they are employed by, or have an offer of employment from, an accredited employer that substantially matches an occupation listed in the Tier 1 Green List.
  • That they meet the qualification, experience, or remuneration requirements for that occupation as outlined in the Tier 1 Green List.
Green List – Work to Residence

WTR applications can be submitted from 29 September 2022.

Principal applicants will need to show:

  • That they are employed by, or have an offer of employment from, an accredited employer in an occupation listed in the Tier 2 Green List
  • That they meet the qualification, experience, or remuneration requirements for that occupation as outlined in the Tier 2 Green List
  • That they have worked for at least 24 months in an occupation on the Tier 2 list on and after 29 September 2021

Applicants who held or applied for a work visa or a critical purpose visitor visa with work conditions before 4 July 2022 and who were working full-time in a Tier 2 Green List occupation may count their work towards the 24 month period. This means that the earliest an application may be submitted under this sub-category will be 1 October 2023.

Note: The 24 months of work required under this category does not have to be consecutive. Where a period of employment does not substantially match a Tier 2 occupation, time worked in a highly paid role can be substituted. Work on any work visa (that is not an AEWV) applied for on or after 4 July 2022 cannot be counted towards meeting the 24 month period.

Highly paid

HP applications can be submitted from 29 September 2022.

In order to qualify, applicants must:

  • Hold employment, or an offer of employment from, an accredited employer with an occupation remunerated at 2x the median wage (currently NZ$55.52 hourly); and
  • Have held employment remunerated at 2x the median wage for 24 months

For the period 29 September 2022 to 3 July 2022, 2x the median wage equates to $54 per hour. For the period 4 July 2022 to February 2023, 2x the median wage equates to $55.52 per hour.

Note: Full-time employment from 29 September 2021 which was remunerated at twice the median wage may be count towards the 24 month period, provided the applicant held or had applied for a work or critical purpose visitor visa with conditions before 4 July 2022. This means that the earliest an application may be submitted under this sub-category will be 1 October 2023.

Meeting employment evidence requirements

Applying under one of the three residence pathways will require that applicants to provide evidence to show that they meet Green List or employment related requirements.

Examples of evidence that may be required includes:

  • Qualifications (this may require an NZQA if your qualification is not exempt from assessment)
  • Evidence of registration or professional membership
  • Evidence of acceptable employment in a specified occupation e.g. employment reference letters, employment agreements
  • Acceptable work in New Zealand e.g. employment agreements, letters from employers
  • Acceptable pay rate e.g. payslips, IRD summary of earnings
Application Fees

Band A (NZ): NZD $4290
Band B (Pacific): NZD $4020
Band C (rest of world): NZD $4890

Note: These fees exclude the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) of approximately NZ$35 but include GST. It appears that the bands look at where a principal applicant is situated when they submit their residence application.

Our thoughts

The new policy is positive news for people who wish to secure residence in New Zealand after September 2022, especially people who missed out on meeting 2021 Resident Visa requirements. The news is not favourable for the significant number of visa holders in New Zealand that have submitted 2021RVs, as it is likely to result in longer processing times.

While Immigration New Zealand have released the core policy for these residence pathways, we envisage that re-calibrations of the policy may be required to ensure that skilled migrants with health issues are not locked out of utilising the WTR residence pathway.

The new STR,WTR and HP residence categories have technical requirements that will need to be carefully navigated to successfully secure residence. If you think you may be eligible to apply under one of these pathways, we recommend contacting one of our experts to discuss.