Complete Guide To the Straight to Residence Visa in New Zealand (2024)

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Michael Yoon
Principal Immigration Lawyer


The Straight to Residence Visa in New Zealand is an immigration option targeted at highly skilled individuals who can contribute to the country's economic development. This program offers the possibility of immediate permanent residency, providing a direct path for professionals to integrate into the New Zealand workforce and society. This guide covers the benefits, eligibility criteria, and application process for a New Zealand visa in this category.

What is the Straight to Residence Visa?

The Straight to Residence Visa in New Zealand is a type of resident visa tailored for individuals who meet the criteria for roles listed under New Zealand’s Green List Tier 1 Category. This visa category is designed to offer a streamlined and efficient process for gaining residency in the country, eliminating the need for temporary visas. Unlike other pathways that may require an initial temporary visa stage, this visa provides a direct route from work to residence, permanently.

Straight to Residence category facilitates the entry and permanent settlement of individuals who possess critical skills necessary for roles that are crucial to New Zealand’s development and growth. By simplifying the residency process for these key positions, the aim is to attract top-tier talent to work in New Zealand.

This visa category not only accelerates the pathway to becoming a New Zealand resident but also highlights the country's commitment to filling crucial high-skill employment gaps through targeted immigration policies.

Eligibility Requirements for Straight to Residence Visa in New Zealand

To be eligible for the Straight to Residence Visa under New Zealand’s Green List Tier 1 Category, applicants must meet specific employment and general conditions. Here’s a breakdown of the eligibility criteria:

1. Employment Criteria

  • You must have employment or an offer of employment from an accredited employer.
  • The job must be in an occupation listed on Tier 1 of the Green List.
  • The employment must meet the specified requirements for that occupation on the list.
  • The position must be full-time (at least 30 hours a week), genuine, and either permanent or at least on a 12-month fixed-term contract.

Under certain conditions, independent contractors are also eligible.

2. Eligibility for Contractors

  • Your contract or contracts for service must total at least 6 months.
  • If your role has a wage threshold as the skill requirement, you will need 10 years' relevant experience and must meet a higher wage threshold set at 50% more than the wage threshold for applicants with permanent or fixed-term employment.

3. General Eligibility Criteria for All Applicants

  • You must be aged 55 or younger at the time of your visa application.
  • You, and if applicable, your partner, and dependent children aged 16 or over, must meet the English language requirements.
  • You and any family included in your application must meet the health and character requirements for residence. These requirements are more stringent than those for temporary work visas. Even if you currently hold an Accredited Employer Work Visa or another type of work visa, these health and character standards still apply.
  • At the time of applying, you must be employed by an accredited employer.

These criteria ensure that the Straight to Residence Visa is accessible to highly skilled individuals who can meet New Zealand’s strategic skill needs, while also ensuring that applicants and their families are well-prepared to integrate into New Zealand society. Compliance with these requirements is crucial for a successful application under this prestigious visa category.

How to Prove Your Eligibility?

To prove your eligibility for the Straight to Residence Visa under New Zealand's Green List Tier 1 Category, you need to provide comprehensive and specific evidence to apply for residence. Here’s how you can demonstrate that you meet the specified evidential requirements:

Requirement  Required Documentation
Qualification Provide qualification certificates. If a New Zealand qualification is required and yours is from overseas, submit an International Qualification Assessment (IQA) by NZQA. 

IQA assesses overseas qualifications against NZ standards, determining the NZQF level and equivalent NZ qualification.

Registration or Professional Membership Submit documentation confirming registration or professional membership relevant to the Green List occupation.
Acceptable Employment Provide employment agreement and job description specifying occupation and confirming it meets Green List criteria.
Pay Rate Include details from employment agreement and job description about occupation, hours worked, and remuneration.

Provide a summary of earnings from Inland Revenue if applicable. If further verification of salary is needed, full bank statements or payslips may be required.

Changes in Employment Details Report significant changes in employment details (e.g., remuneration changes crucial to the application) since the last work visa application.
Consideration of Previous Applications An Immigration Officer may review evidence from previous work visa applications to assess ongoing eligibility according to the Green List requirements.


Green List Occupations - An Essential Condition for Your Visa Application

The Green List in New Zealand plays a significant role in the country's immigration strategy by identifying specific occupations that are essential for the nation's growth and development. These occupations are eligible for streamlined immigration processes, either through a fast-track to residence or via a work-to-residence pathway

The Green List includes a diverse array of occupations, particularly in sectors like healthcare, veterinary science, engineering, and information and communication technology (ICT). Every Green List role is identified as high-demand and critical for New Zealand’s infrastructure and services.

1. Salary Requirements

  • Many roles on the Green List require a minimum salary level, which is often tied to the median wage. This ensures that the jobs filled by skilled migrants are compensated fairly and are genuinely in need of high-level skills that cannot be readily sourced locally.
  • For certain high-skilled roles, a salary of at least twice the median wage may be required. This higher pay threshold simplifies the hiring process under the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) scheme.

2. Simplified Hiring Process for Accredited Employers

  • Accredited employers benefit as they can hire migrants for roles listed on the Green List without the need to prove that no suitable New Zealand citizens or residents were available (i.e., without the need for labour market testing).
  • For roles that pay at least twice the median wage, employers do not need to advertise the position when completing the job check, streamlining the process further.

3. Eligibility for Migrants

  • To benefit from the Green List pathways, you must possess the necessary qualifications, professional registration, or relevant experience required for the listed occupation.
  • Depending on the specific criteria and your role, you may be eligible for immediate residency or qualify for residency after a period of employment in New Zealand.

This structured approach not only helps fill critical skill gaps in New Zealand’s labour market but also provides significant opportunities for skilled migrants to establish long-term careers and residency in the country. The Green List is a key component of New Zealand’s immigration policy, reflecting the country's strategic priorities and needs.

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Application Process for Straight to Residence Visa

Obtaining a Straight to Residence Visa to come to New Zealand involves a systematic and thorough process to ensure that only qualified individuals are granted this fast-track residency. Here’s a detailed guide on how to navigate the application steps:

Step 1: Check Eligibility

Review the specific criteria for the Straight to Residence Visa under New Zealand's immigration policies. This typically requires having specialized skills or professional experience that is in high demand in New Zealand, particularly those listed on the Green List Tier 1 Category.

Step 2: Collect Documents

Gather all necessary documents which may include:

  • Academic qualifications
  • Professional certifications
  • Proof of work experience
  • Personal identification documents

Any other documents proving your eligibility such as registration with a professional body if required for your occupation. Please refer to the table above to understand document requirements in detail.

Step 3: Health and Character Checks

Undergo health examinations to ensure you meet the health standards required by Immigration New Zealand. Complete the character checks, which include police clearance certificates from every country you have lived in for 12 months or more over the last 10 years.

Step 4: Submit Application

Fill out the visa application form with great care to ensure accuracy and completeness. Attach all collected documents and submit your complete application package to Immigration New Zealand either through their online system or as directed in their application guidelines.

Step 5: Processing

An immigration officer will review your application. During this stage, you may be asked to provide additional information or to attend an interview if there are queries or further clarifications needed regarding your application.

Step 6: Decision Time

You will receive a notification from Immigration New Zealand regarding the decision on your application. If approved, you will be granted a Straight to Residence Visa.

Once approved, make arrangements for your move or adjust your status in New Zealand accordingly. Your visa will detail your rights and obligations, including travel conditions and the duration of your residency status.

Additional Tips

  • Double-check: Re-verify all the information and documents before submitting your application to avoid any possible delays due to errors or omissions.
  • Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated with any changes in the immigration policies or procedures that might affect your application.

Following these steps carefully will help ensure a smooth process for obtaining your Straight to Residence Visa, setting you on a clear path to a new life in New Zealand.

Straight to Residence Visa vs Accredited Employer Work Visa - Which One Should You Choose as a Migrant?

The Straight to Residence Visa offers several advantages over the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa for those seeking to gain residence status in New Zealand. Key benefits include:

  1. Simplicity: Applicants who work for accredited employers can qualify without needing to navigate a complex points-based system that’s required with the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa.
  2. Immediate residence: Upon approval, individuals obtain residence status right away without further waiting or additional steps to meet the 6-points criteria of the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa.
  3. Job security: Employment with an accredited company provides greater job security and stability for you, allowing you to make long-term personal and professional decisions. This is particularly appealing if you are looking to permanently relocate with your family to New Zealand.

For individuals already working for accredited employers, these factors combine to make the Straight to Residence Visa an appealing option for those looking to establish themselves in New Zealand. The simplicity, immediacy of residence, job security, family inclusiveness, and overall efficiency create a compelling case for choosing this route to settlement where one is eligible..

Key Takeaways

The Straight to Residence Visa provides a streamlined pathway to residency for skilled immigrants and contributes to New Zealand's economic and social development. This visa category allows global professionals to integrate into the local community more easily and offers them the stability to make long-term contributions to the country.

For individuals interested in obtaining permanent residency in New Zealand through a direct and efficient process, the Straight to Residence Visa is a viable option to consider. If you would like to learn more about this visa category and how it aligns with your goals of becoming a New Zealand resident, please feel free to contact us for further information.

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Author Profile Photo for Jason Xu
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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