Complete Guide To The Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa in New Zealand (2024)

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Michael Yoon
Principal Immigration Lawyer


The Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa in New Zealand offers a strategic immigration pathway for skilled workers in the healthcare and aged care sectors. This visa is designed to address the critical shortages in these vital areas by facilitating a route to permanent residency for professionals who are essential for the sustainability and improvement of New Zealand's public health services. By providing these workers with the opportunity to transition to permanent residency after fulfilling certain criteria, New Zealand aims to bolster its workforce in these crucial sectors and ensure the ongoing provision of high-quality healthcare services.

This comprehensive guide outlines the benefits of this visa, the eligibility requirements, the specific roles that qualify, and practical steps on how to apply. It also addresses potential challenges applicants might face during the application process, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of this valuable immigration pathway.

What is the ‘Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa’ in New Zealand?

The Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa in New Zealand is specifically aimed at supporting the healthcare and aged care sectors by providing a pathway for skilled workers to gain residency. This visa allows individuals to initially work in New Zealand with the potential to transition to permanent residency after fulfilling specific criteria. It targets professionals in critical roles that are essential to meet the country's growing healthcare demands, effectively helping to bolster the workforce in these vital sectors.

Eligibility Requirements for Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa Application

To qualify for a Care Workforce Work to Residence visa in New Zealand, applicants must meet specific eligibility criteria related to their work experience, visa status, employment conditions, and personal attributes. Here’s a breakdown of these requirements:

Work Experience Requirements

  • Duration and Timing: Applicants must have worked in a Care Workforce sector occupation in New Zealand for at least 24 months within the 30 months immediately prior to lodging their residence application. This work experience does not need to be consecutive and can include any parental leave taken.
  • Qualifying Roles: Experience can be in roles listed as Green List Work to Residence or Highly Paid roles, combined with Care Workforce experience, to fulfill the required 24 months.
  • Start Date for Counting Experience: Only work experience gained in New Zealand after 29 September 2021 is eligible, making the earliest possible date to lodge a Care Workforce Work to Residence application 29 September 2023.

Employment and Visa Requirements

  • Wage Requirements: Throughout the required 24-month work period, the applicant must have been paid at or above $28.25 NZD per hour or the equivalent salary in concerned Care Workforce role.
  • Visa Status: At the time of applying for residence, the applicant must hold an Accredited Employer Work Visa or another work visa, such as an Essential Skills Visa, applied for before 4 July 2022.
  • Current Employment: Applicants must be currently employed for an accredited employer, or have an offer of employment from an accredited employer, paid at or above the Level 4 rate per hour. The employment must be in a Care Workforce sector occupation, be genuine, and involve at least 30 hours per week. It must be permanent or on a fixed term of at least 12 months. Eligibility is determined by the main job tasks rather than the job title.

Personal Requirements

  • Age Limit: Applicants must be under 56 years of age at the time of the residence application.
  • Health and Character: Applicants must meet the acceptable standards of health and character as required by New Zealand immigration laws.
  • English Language Proficiency: Applicants must meet an English language requirement equivalent to IELTS 6.5

Meeting these criteria ensures that applicants are not only capable and experienced in critical care roles but also well-prepared to integrate into New Zealand society. These stringent requirements help maintain high standards in the care workforce, benefiting both the individuals and the communities they serve.

Which Roles Qualify for Care Workforce to Work Visa Pathway?

To be eligible for the Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa, you must be qualified and experienced in specific roles within the care workforce. The eligible roles include:

  • Kaiawhina (Hauora) (Maori Health Assistant)
  • Disabilities Services Officer
  • Residential Care Officer
  • Aged or Disabled Carer
  • Nursing Support Worker
  • Personal Care Assistant
  • Therapy Aide
  • Child or Youth Residential Care Assistant
  • Diversional

Documents Required to Support Your Visa Application

Requirement Category Required Documentation
Acceptable Employment in a Specified Occupation Employment agreement and job description specifying the occupation.
Acceptable Work in New Zealand Current and previous employment agreements and job descriptions, stating duration of employment, position held, and remuneration.

Summary of earnings from Inland Revenue confirming at least 24 months’ work in New Zealand.

Pay Rate Employment agreement and job description stating occupation, hours worked, and remuneration.

Summary of earnings from Inland Revenue if worked in New Zealand.

Possibly bank statements or payslips if further verification is needed.

Special Considerations Changes in employment details since the most recent work visa application if these are crucial for the application (e.g., changes in remuneration especially if paid at least twice the median wage). 
Review of Previous Applications Previous applications as an immigration officer may review previous work visa applications. This is to verify 24 months of acceptable work in New Zealand and compliance with specified wage rates.



Care Workforce to Work Residence Visa Application Process

Applying for a Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa involves a structured two-stage process that allows skilled workers in the healthcare or aged care sectors to eventually obtain residency in New Zealand. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to proceed:

Stage 1: Temporary Work Visa

  1. Check Eligibility: Verify that your occupation is eligible under the Care Workforce category and that you meet the required qualifications and experience.
  2. Find Employment: Secure a job offer from an accredited employer in New Zealand within the healthcare or aged care sector.
  3. Gather Documentation: Compile necessary documents, including your employment agreement, professional qualifications, proof of experience, and any other relevant certifications.
  4. Submit Visa Application: Apply for the temporary work visa through Immigration New Zealand. This application must include your job offer, qualifications, and any other documents required by the immigration authorities.
  5. Visa Issuance: Once approved, the temporary work visa will typically be valid for 30 months, during which you must work in the specified role in New Zealand.

Stage 2: Residence Visa Application

  1. Fulfill Work Requirement: Work in New Zealand in your specified Care Workforce role for at least 24 months within the 30-month period allowed by your temporary work visa.
  2. Document Your Experience: Gather documentation proving that you have completed the required 24 months of work, such as pay slips, employment verification letters, and a summary of earnings from Inland Revenue.
  3. Prepare Application: Compile all necessary documentation to demonstrate that you have met the work and employment conditions specified in your initial job offer. This includes any updates or changes to your employment situation that are relevant to your application.
  4. Submit Residence Visa Application: Apply for the residence visa through Immigration New Zealand, including all documentation of your fulfilled obligations under the temporary work visa.
  5. Review and Decision: Immigration New Zealand will review your application, which may include checks on your health, character, and continued employment status. Upon successful verification, your application for a residence visa will be processed.

Visa Grant: If approved, you will be granted residency status, allowing you to live permanently in New Zealand.

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Potential Issues with Care Workforce to Work Residence Visa Application

When applying for the Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa in New Zealand, applicants may encounter several issues related to employment classification and wage calculations. These factors can significantly impact the eligibility and process of obtaining residency. Here are the key issues to be aware of:

  • Classification as “Low Skilled” Work: Until October 2019, caregiver pay was classified as “low skilled” work. This classification can affect the terms of visas issued, as well as eligibility for certain immigration pathways, including residence visas.
  • Sleepover Shifts Pay Scale: The inclusion of sleepover shifts in wage calculations historically caused the average hourly wage for care workers to drop. This reduction in the calculated wage could revert caregivers back to the “low skilled” category. This issue was, however, resolved in April 2021.
  • Exclusion of Sleepover Rates from Wage Calculations: Current guidelines now exclude sleepover rates from being counted in wage calculations for visa eligibility. This change is meant to prevent the artificially low calculation of average hourly wages due to low-paid sleepover hours.
  • Complications from Erroneously Granted Visas: There was an issue where people had been erroneously granted 3-year visas under the medium skill category due to the previously mentioned pay scale issues. For those affected whose visas were granted in 2021, these visas are likely to expire in 2024. This situation could lead to complications in the visa renewal process this year, as corrections to align with actual qualifications and wage conditions might be necessary.

These factors highlight the importance of staying informed about current immigration policies and guidelines, especially concerning wage calculations and visa classifications. For caregivers and support workers, understanding these details is crucial to navigating the visa application process effectively and securing eligibility for residence under the Care Workforce pathway.

Interested in the Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa? We’re Here to Help

The Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa provides a pathway for healthcare professionals to contribute to New Zealand's health and aged care sectors while offering the potential for permanent residency. This visa allows skilled workers to fill important roles and provides a level of stability for them and their families. If you are a healthcare professional interested in pursuing a career in New Zealand and would like to learn more about this visa option, the experienced immigration lawyers at Immigration Lawyer NZ are available to assist you.

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Last modified on 7 July 2024 by
Michael Yoon
Principal Immigration Lawyer
Michael has been working as a lawyer in New Zealand since 2006. Over the years, he has successfully helped thousands of clients to get their desired outcome. Clients find Michael knowledgeable, approachable and professional — a trusted expert.

Remember, New Zealand immigration laws and policies change constantly, without warning.

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