A guide to the Green List visa

As part of border reopening and immigration changes, the government has announced a new “Green List” of 85 hard-to-fill, high-skill roles that provide a priority pathway to residency. This new fast-tracked ‘Straight to Residence’ pathway means people who work in one of the Green List occupations, and have a job offer from an accredited employer, can come to New Zealand on a work visa from 4 July this year and apply for residence from September, if they meet the criteria. From September, residence can also be applied for directly from offshore.

In this guide we explain how the Green List criteria works, and what you can do to make sure your application has the best chance of success.

 What is the Green List visa? 

The Green List is a new list of 85 occupations that qualify for a fast-track to residence or have access to a work to residence pathway. A range of jobs are on the list, including health workers, vets, engineers and ICT specialists. Some of these roles will need to be paid a minimum salary, which will be tied to the median wage, with higher pay for some roles.

The list also aims to make it easier to hire skilled migrants on an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV), as accredited employers will be able to hire migrants on an AEWV if the role is on the Green List, and an employer will be able to complete the job check without proof of advertising.

You also do not need to advertise for the job check if the role is paid at least twice the median wage.

What is the list of occupations on the Green list visa?

There are 85 hard-to-fill roles included on the Green List, including roles in construction, engineering, trades, health and tech. Note: some occupations will need to work in New Zealand for two years before applying for residence, via the Work to Residence pathway.

Full list of Green List occupations

  • Construction Project Manager Project Builder
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Surveyor
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Civil Engineering Technician Civil Engineer
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Electronics Engineer
  • Electrical Engineering Technician
  • Electronic Engineering Technician
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Geotechnical Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Materials Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Production or Plant Engineer
  • Structural Engineer
  • Engineering Professionals (Not elsewhere classified)
  • Telecommunications Engineers
  • Telecommunications Network Engineers
  • General Practitioner
  • Anaesthetist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Specialist Physicians not elsewhere classified. Surgeons (Including General Surgeons, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Neurosurgeon, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Otorhinolaryngologist, Urologist and Vascular Surgeon)
  • Other Medical Practitioners (including Dermatologist, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Ophthalmologist Diagnostic and Interventional Radiologist and Radiation Oncologist)
  • Resident Medical Officer
  • Medical Laboratory Scientist, Clinical Psychologists and Psychologists, Physicist (Medical)
  • Orthoptist
  • Veterinarian
  • Other Spatial Scientist
  • Environmental Research Scientist Food Technologist
  • ICT Managers ($120,000)
  • Software Engineer ($120,000)
  • ICT Security Specialist ($120,000)
  • Multimedia Specialists ($95,000)

What is the Green List visa criteria?

To qualify for a work visa under the Green List, an overseas applicant will have to have a job offer that matches that occupation’s description or requirements and be able to prove that their overseas qualification meets the comparable New Zealand qualification standard for their occupation.

It is not simply a matter of matching a job title, and it’s a very narrowly defined list.

The specific qualification requirements that are detailed on the Green List are all based on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) unless stated otherwise.

For a candidate to qualify under that framework, the applicant must either get a New Zealand Qualifications Authority assessment of their qualification, or have a qualification that is on the list of qualifications exempt from assessment.

How do you apply for the Green List visa?

Migrants who meet the criteria and are eligible for a visa via the Green List (for example, they have qualifications that meet the comparable New Zealand qualification standard for their occupation), and have a job offer from an accredited employer can apply for a work visa from 4 July this year, and apply for residence from September if in an occupation on the direct to residence part of the Green List. Those who have a role on the Work to Residence pathway in the Green List can also seek a AEWV in July but have to complete the 2 years of work before seeking residence. Immigration New Zealand are due to release more information about eligibility and the application process soon.

The application process will be completely online.

For assistance with an application, you can contact us at New Zealand Immigration Law (NZIL) and we will do an assessment of an applicants’ qualifications and assess whether the job description meets the requirements. For applicants who have a job offer, we will also be able to assess that and tell the applicant whether they are on the Green List, and what that means for their partner, and if not, what their other visa options are.

What does the Green List visa application cost?

 Immigration New Zealand has not released the details of how much this visa application will cost yet. This is expected to be announced soon.

How long will it take to get a Green List visa approved?

 The Government says applications will be processed within 30 days once an employer is accredited. If you’re an employer not yet accredited, we recommended starting that process now, as from July 2022, you will need to be accredited to be able to hire new migrant workers, or to apply for new work visas for any existing migrant employees.

You can contact NZIL at any time for assistance with the accreditation process.

What about the partners of Green List visa holders?

The partners of migrants in Green List occupations will also have open work rights.

If you don’t meet the Green List criteria, from December, a partner will only be granted a visitor’s visa. This means your partner cannot work while on a visitor’s visa. They can look for work and attend job interviews, however their visitor’s visa status often impacts the likelihood of being employed. If your partner can find a job with an accredited employer, then they will get a work visa tied to that employer, however that is a temporary visa.

What if you are not eligible for a Green List visa?

The Green List is exclusive – in other words, if you’re not on the Green List, you don’t get on the Straight to Residence pathway or the Work to Residence pathway. It’s also quite a narrowly defined list, and requires a visa applicant’s qualifications to be equivalent to the New Zealand qualifications on the list, not just to match the job title.

If you are not eligible under the Green List, you can still apply to work in New Zealand by applying for an AEWV and obtain residence via the Skilled Migrant Category, which is currently under review.

 What can go wrong with a Green List visa application?

For migrants, because the Green List is so narrowly defined, one of the things that could go wrong for an applicant is that your qualifications do not meet the comparable New Zealand qualification standard for your occupation, or the requirements of the job description, and you won’t be eligible.

For an employer, something that could go wrong is the job description not being closely enough aligned to meet the description of the role that INZ will use and thus the applicant not meeting the requirements, and not being able to be hired via the Green List.

To avoid either of these problems, talk to the team at NZIL who can help assess an applicant’s qualifications against the New Zealand standards, the job description and job offer to make sure all the requirements are met for the worker to qualify for the Green List, before the worker takes the role.

How can New Zealand Immigration Law help?

The team at NZIL is highly experienced at assisting with visa applications, on behalf of employers and applicants.

We will do an assessment of the applicants’ qualifications and whether they meet the comparable New Zealand qualification standard for their occupation.

We can advise on whether a job offer meets the requirements, including income thresholds, and whether someone is eligible for the Green List, and what that means for their partner, and if not, what their other visa options are.

Contact the team at NZIL today.

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