Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has been making new visa category changes as part of its “rebalance strategy”, which aims to make the immigration process more flexible and responsive. These changes are good news for immigrants, who now have a wider range of options when it comes to choosing a visa that best suits their needs. However, the changes have faced scrutiny as some have questioned why certain professions – most notably nursing – are not eligible for the “fast track to residency” category.
Only certain occupations are qualified for fast track to residency. These include engineering, construction and science jobs, along with a range of health roles, such as GPs, anaesthetists, psychiatrists, psychologists and surgeons. People with these occupations can work in New Zealand from July and apply for residence as early as September.
Nurses belong to the second tier, along with midwives and some specific teachers. They could also start in July, but must wait two years before they can apply for residency.
A summary of the newly introduced visas is as below:
• A new fast track straight to residency visa, for well-paid, “globally in-demand” professionals who work as engineers, doctors – including surgeons, psychiatrists and GPs – and ICT specialists and developers.
• A work-to-residence visa for people from certain professions who work in New Zealand for two years and are from in-demand professions which are typically paid less than those covered by similar roles in the “fast track” category”. These include electricians and plumbers, teachers, nurses, midwives, medical technicians and dairy farm managers.
• An Accredited Employer Work Visa will give certain workers, such as most tradies and healthcare assistants, the right to work in New Zealand after two years if they earn above a certain threshold.
• An Active Investor Plus Visa targeting wealthy workers and investors willing to invest more than $5 million in New Zealand
• Minister of Immigration, Michael Wood announced another option for wealthy workers - a “highly paid - twice the median wage” visa. This would give residency to people younger than 55 years old who have worked for two years in New Zealand earning double the median wage, currently $55.22 per hour.