Want to live and gain residency in New Zealand? If you have a certain skillset, you may qualify for the Green List Work Visa. This guide explains the application process and what to expect.

As part of border reopening and immigration changes, the government has announced a “Green List” of 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 and apply for residence, if they meet the criteria. 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 NZ Immigration Green List?

The Green List is a list of 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.

Employers 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 NZ immigration green list?

There are around 100 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.  As of September 23rd, 2023, 17 new roles were added to the Green List. These roles will not be eligible until March 2024.

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
  • Registered nurses
  • Midwives
  • Anaesthetist
  • Psychiatrist
  • 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
  • Addiction practitioner/alcohol & drug clinician
  • Audiometrist
  • Chiropractor
  • Clinical dental technician
  • Clinical physiologists (sleep, renal, exercise, respiratory, neurology, and cardiac)
  • Counsellor
  • Dental Specialist
  • Dental Technician
  • Dental therapist
  • Dentist
  • Dietician
  • Dispensing optician
  • Drug and alcohol counsellor
  • Enrolled nurse
  • Genetic Counsellor
  • Medical laboratory pre-analytical technician
  • Medical resonance imaging technologist
  • Nuclear medicine technologist
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Optometrist
  • Oral health therapist
  • Orthotic and prosthetic technician
  • Orthotist/prosthetist
  • Osteopath
  • Paramedic/emergency medical technician
  • Perfusionist (cardiac)
  • Pharmacist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Play therapist (hospital)
  • Social worker
  • Speech language therapist
  • Sterile processing technician
  • 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)
  • Analyst Programmer
  • Developer Programmer
  • Software Tester
  • Software and Applications Programmers not elsewhere classified
  • Registered Auditors
  • Civil construction supervisors
  • Gasfitters
  • Drain layers
  • Skilled crane operators
  • Skilled civil machine operators
  • Halal slaughterers
  • Skilled motor mechanics
  • Skilled telecommunications technicians
  • All secondary school teachers
  • Primary school teachers

Existing roles on Green List Work to Residence pathway moving to Straight to Residence pathway:

  • Anaesthetic Technician
  • Audiologist
  • Medical imaging technologist
  • Medical laboratory technician
  • Medical radiation therapist
  • Occupational therapist.
  • Podiatrist
  • Sonographer

Existing roles on Green List Straight to Residence pathway:

  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Medical laboratory scientist
  • Medical practitioners
  • Midwife
  • Orthoptist
  • Physicist (Medical)
  • Psychologists
  • Registered Nurse

These roles will be added to the Green List from March 2024:

  • Aviation Engineer (Avionics, Aeronautical, Aerospace Engineer)
  • Naval Architects (aka Marine Designer)
  • Mechanical Engineering Technician
  • ICT Database and System Administrator
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer
  • Road Roller Operator
  • Paving Plant Operator
  • Corrections Officer
  • Metal Fabricator
  • Pressure Welder
  • Welder
  • Fitter (General)
  • Fitter and Turner
  • Fitter-Welder
  • Metal Machinist (First Class)
  • Panel Beater
  • Vehicle Painter.

What is the NZ immigration Green List 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. Employers need to be accredited to be able to offer a candidate a job role.

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 Immigration NZ 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  2022, 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 is regularly adding to and updating the list of eligible occupations, so it pays to check if your occupation is included in the list.

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 Immigration NZ Green List visa application cost?

The application fee and immigration levy will be between NZD $4,020 and NZD $4,890 depending on whether you are applying from within New Zealand or another part of the world.

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

These fees include Goods and Services Tax (GST) and exclude the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL).

How do you find an accredited employer?

Accredited employers are the only employers that can hire migrant workers from overseas. They are the only ones that can offer jobs to migrant workers.

There is not an up-to-date list of all accredited employers in New Zealand. There is also no requirement to register on a public list.

You can apply for a job, and ask them if they are an accredited employer. You can also ask them, have you done the Job check for the role advertised? In our experience, every employer who is serious about hiring an offshore candidate should be familiar and engaged with this process.


How do you get a job offer to get the NZ immigration Green List?

If you think you qualify for this visa type and you are looking to be matched to an employer, then speak to our recruitment partners at NZ Jobs Search.

They can assess your qualifications, check that you do meet the criteria, then match you with an accredited employer looking to find candidates to fill these in demand roles.

How long will it take to get an immigration NZ 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 recommend giving yourself at least a month to prepare your application. You 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 immigration NZ 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 April next year (2023) 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.

Speak to the team at NZ Jobs Search to find out more about finding a job and being matched to an accredited employer.

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 an Immigration NZ Green List 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 we assist?

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.


Want to learn more?

Check out our free guides in the resource section of this site. Or read our recent articles about immigration law news on our blog.

If you want the best chance of success, don’t leave anything to chance. Engage professional assistance from NZIL and ensure you get it right the first time. Contact us today.

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