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Pathways for Permanent Residency in New Zealand

The New Zealand government provides clear pathways for individuals to obtain permanent residency, enabling them to live, study, work, and explore the country freely. Additionally, these pathways offer employers the opportunity to sponsor skilled workers seeking permanent residence, contributing to the nation’s economic growth.

Various pathways exist for obtaining permanent residency (PR) in New Zealand. Among the most common are employer sponsorship through the Skilled Migrant Category, the Straight to Residence Visa, the Work to Residence Visa, and sponsorship by family members. Each of these options empowers individuals and their families to establish permanent roots in New Zealand.

Outlined below are the four most common visa options leading to permanent residency:

 

1. SKILLED MIGRANT CATEGORY (SMC)

Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) Resident Visa is a prominent pathway for skilled individuals and their families to obtain permanent residency in New Zealand. Administered by Immigration New Zealand, this visa category is designed to attract and retain talented workers who can contribute to the country’s workforce and economy.

Benefits: Include immediate permanent residency, granting individuals the ability to live, work, and study in the country indefinitely. Moreover, access to healthcare and education systems, path to citizenship and voting rights.

Length of stay: Indefinitely

Who is eligible?

  • Age: Applicants must be 55 years old or under at the time of application.
  • Applicants must have Skilled Job or Job Offer with an accredited employer in New Zealand to apply.

To be considered a skilled job, the job or job offer must be:

  1. At least 30 hours a week.
  2. Either in an ANZSCO Level 1 to 3 occupation and paid at or above the median wage, or in an ANZSCO Level 4 to 5 occupation and paid at or above 1.5 times the median wage.
  3. On a permanent contract or fixed-term contract for at least 12 months.

Applicants need to qualify for 3 to 6 points based on New Zealand occupational registration, qualifications (Bachelor’s degree or higher), or income from your job or job offer (earning at least 1.5 times the median wage in New Zealand. 

Speak and understand English. It is possible to include a partner and any dependent children up to the age of 24 in the application. They also must meet English language, health, and character requirements.

SMC Application Process:

1. Expression of Interest (EOI): Prospective migrants need to submit an EOI online, providing detailed information about their employment, NZ experience, qualifications, and income.

2. Invitation to Apply (ITA): If an EOI is successful, the applicant will receive an Invitation to Apply. The ITA invites the applicant to submit a formal residence application. There will also be an ‘Employer Supplementary Form’ for the prospective employer to complete.

3. Evaluation: Immigration authorities meticulously evaluate each application, considering the applicant’s credentials and contributions to New Zealand’s interests. There might be further requests for evidence to support the application, as well as an interview.

 

2. STRAIGHT TO RESIDENCE VISA

The Straight to Residence Visa in New Zealand is an immigration pathway designed for individuals who hold a role within New Zealand’s Green List Tier 1 Category.

Administered by Immigration New Zealand, this visa category offers a direct route to residency, bypassing the need for temporary visas and providing a clear path to becoming a New Zealand resident.

People can either arrive to New Zealand on a work visa and apply for the Straight to Residence Visa or apply from outside New Zealand.

Benefits: Immediate Permanent Residency, access to healthcare and education system, family access to residency, path to Citizenship and Voting Rights.

Length of stay: Indefinitely

Who is eligible?

  • Age: Applicants must be 55 years old or under at the time of application.
  • Individuals who are currently working, or have a job offer, from an accredited NZ employer.
  • The role is on Tier 1 of the Green List in-demand
  • Applicants meet the qualifications, registration, or experience required, they may be able to obtain residence immediately or after 2 years of work in NZ.
  • Earn at least the New Zealand median wage.

Application Process:

1. Eligibility Assessment: Applicants must first determine their eligibility based on their Green List role qualification.

2. Document Preparation: The process involves gathering documentation, including proof of identity, police certificates, health assessments, and evidence of English language proficiency.

3. Online Application: Applicants submit their applications through the official New Zealand Immigration website, ensuring that all information is accurate and complete.

4. Evaluation: Immigration authorities evaluate each application, considering the applicant’s credentials and contributions to New Zealand’s interests. There might be further requests for evidence to support the application.

 

3. WORK TO RESIDENCE VISA

Work to residence category is designed to attract skilled and experienced individuals who can contribute to the country’s workforce in a Green List Tier 2 category. And eventually, settle in New Zealand on a long-term basis.

Benefits: Holders of the work to residence visa and their immediate family members are granted residency in New Zealand, also they can have employment opportunities, possibility of family reunification, and voting rights.

Length of stay: Indefinitely

Who is eligible?

  • Age: Applicants must be 55 years old or under at the time of application.
  • Hold a valid job offer from a New Zealand employer in an occupation that is in the Green List Tier 2 category.
  • Applicants must have already worked in the Green List Tier 2 role for 24 months and fulfilled the role’s corresponding requirements.
  • Earn at least the New Zealand median wage.

Application Process:

The application process for the Work to Residence Visa involves the following stages:

1. Job Offer: Applicants must secure a genuine job offer from a New Zealand employer who is willing to support their visa application.

2. Temporary Work Visa: Initially, successful applicants are granted a temporary work visa that allows them to work and live in New Zealand. This visa is valid for 2 years as an opportunity for individuals to demonstrate their value to the New Zealand workforce.

3. Residence Application: After fulfilling the requirements of their temporary work visa, applicants can submit a residence application, seeking to transition from temporary to permanent residency. This stage may require additional documentation and proof of ongoing employment.

4. Residency: If the residence application is approved, applicants and their immediate family members are granted residency in New Zealand, allowing them to live, work, study, and access healthcare and education services indefinitely.

 

4. FAMILY VISAS:

This option is for those with family members who are New Zealand citizens or residents, including Australian citizens or residents. They may be eligible to be sponsored as family members in New Zealand if they are Partners, Dependent Children, Parents, Grandparents, etc.

Individuals can obtain New Zealand residence through the following family visas:

  • Partner of a New Zealander Resident Visa: Individuals can get the residency if one of the partners is a New Zealand citizen or resident.
  • Parent Resident Visa: Individuals can apply for permanent residency in New Zealand if they have a child who is a New Zealand citizen or resident. They will also need to fulfill the country’s income and investment requirements
  • Dependent Child Resident Visa: New Zealand citizens or residents have the opportunity to bring their children to reside with them in New Zealand. Their children are eligible to live, study, and work in the country.
  • Refugee Family Support Resident Visa: If an individual arrived in New Zealand as a refugee or protected person, they may have the opportunity to sponsor a family member to obtain New Zealand residence.
  • Intercountry Adoption Resident Visa: New Zealand citizens or residents have the option to apply for a visa allowing them to bring a legally adopted child to live with them in New Zealand indefinitely.

Depending on their situation, individuals may be eligible for multiple visa types. Each pathway offers unique benefits and opportunities for individuals and their families to establish in New Zealand.

To find out more about these pathways, please contact Arno Nothnagel, our NZ Immigration Director, at arno.nothnagel@absoluteimmigration.com to arrange an online consultation.

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