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Update: Green List roles expanded

On April 2023, the government added 32 additional roles to its occupation Green List. The roles cover the health system and are considered critical to delivering health services in New Zealand. Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply beginning May 29, 2023.

  • Addiction practitioner/alcohol & drug clinician

  • Audiometrist

  • Chiropractor

  • Clinical dental technician

  • Clinical physiologists (sleep, renal, exercise, respiratory, neurology, and cardiac)

  • Counsellor

  • Dental specialists

  • 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

Eight health-related roles from the Green List Work to Residence pathway to the Straight to Residence pathway. They include:

  • Anaesthetic Technician

  • Audiologist

  • Medical imaging technologist

  • Medical laboratory technician

  • Medical radiation therapist

  • Occupational therapist.

  • Podiatrist

  • Sonographer

What is the New Zealand Immigration Green List?

In order to fill concerning gaps in the workforce, the New Zealand government has created a Green List of occupations that will be prioritised for residency. These occupations are split into two categories, each with their own visa application rules and requirements.

Tier 1: Straight-to-Residence visa

  • Tier 1 roles are eligible for Straight-to-Residence visa applications

  • A Straight-to-Residence visa means you can work and live in New Zealand indefinitely

  • You can apply for a Straight-to-Residence visa while still overseas or on arrival

  • You can also include your partner and any dependent children under the age of 24 in your residency application

Tier 2: Work-to-Residence visa

  • Tier 2 roles are eligible for Work-to-Residence visa applications

  • To be eligible for a Work-to-Residence visa, you must have worked in New Zealand in a Tier 2 role for at least 24 months

  • You can include your partner and any dependent children under the age of 24 in your residency application

  • Note: You can only apply for a Tier 2 Work-to-Residence visa from September 2023 onwards

If you’re applying for a Green List visa, you must either work for, or hold a job offer from, an Accredited Employer. You must also meet the residence visa English language requirements.

IELTS for Green List visas in New Zealand

Immigration New Zealand trusts and accepts IELTS as proof of English language proficiency for all visa categories. In fact, IELTS is the only test accepted by all immigration authorities of Australia, the UK, New Zealand and Canada.

For migration to New Zealand, you may need to show that you understand the English language. To prove this, Immigration New Zealand can ask you to show that you’ve done an official language test, like IELTS. You may also have to show that in the 2 years before you apply you have gained the minimum scores needed for your visa.

IELTS for migration

English language test results for residence visas

The principal applicant, their partner, and dependent children aged 16 and over must all speak and understand English. There are some exceptions, but most of the time Immigration New Zealand asks you to show this in your application with English language test results, for example, an IELTS test.

For a New Zealand residence visa, the primary applicant needs an IELTS overall score of 6.5 or more. Partners and dependent children need an overall score of 5.0 or more. IELTS has lots of free preparation materials available to help you achieve your required score.

5 top tips to ace IELTS for a New Zealand visa.

What are the roles on the Green List?

There are almost 100 different roles included in the Green List. These include occupations across different industries, including:

  • Construction - for example Project Managers, Surveyors, Civil Construction Supervisors

  • Engineering - for example Chemical Engineers, Civil Engineers, Electronic Engineers, Structural Engineers

  • Education - for example Primary School Teachers, Secondary School Teachers

  • Healthcare - for example General Practitioners, Nurses, Anaesthetists, Psychiatrists, Surgeons

  • Software - for example ICT Managers, Software Engineers, Developer Programmers, Software Testers

Note: This list isn’t the full Green List, and contains both Tier 1 and Tier 2 roles. For a full list of Green List occupations, you can use this search tool on the New Zealand Immigration website. The New Zealand Government updates the Green List often, so it’s worth checking the list regularly to see if roles have been added or removed.

Nursing in New Zealand

How do I apply for a Green List visa?

A site engineer wearing safety jacket and helmet looking a construction plan chart

Tier 1: Straight-to-Residence visa

You can apply for a Straight-to-Residence visa on arrival, or while you’re still based overseas. For your application, you’ll need to make sure that:

  • You are currently employed in, or have a job offer for a Green List Tier 1 role with an Accredited Employer

  • You have the required New Zealand or equivalent qualifications for the role

  • You, your partner, and any dependant children included in your residency application meet the residence visa English language requirements

Tier 2: Work-to-Residence visa

You can only apply for a Work-to-Residence visa after you’ve worked in New Zealand for a set period of time. To apply, you’ll need to make sure that:

  • You are currently employed in, or have a job offer for a Green List Tier 2 role with an Accredited Employer AND you’ve worked in a Tier 2 or another applicable role for at least 24 months

  • You have the required New Zealand or equivalent qualifications for the role

  • You, your partner, and any dependant children included in your residency application meet the residence visa English language requirements

  • You’re applying for this visa from September 2023 onwards

The application process for both visas is entirely online. You can begin your application using the New Zealand Immigration website. The cost of the application fee and immigration levy will depend on whether you’re applying from New Zealand or elsewhere in the world:

  • Applications from New Zealand: NZD $4290

  • Applications from the Pacific: NZD $4020

  • Applications from the rest of the world: NZD $4890

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How do I find an accredited employer?

Accredited Employers are the only employers allowed to hire migrants in New Zealand. In order to become accredited, employers are screened by the government to make sure they are up to immigration and employment standards and offer good working conditions.

Unfortunately, Accredited Employers aren’t required to register on a public list, so it can be hard to know which employers you’re eligible to apply for. Some may include their accreditation in a job listing, but many may not.

If you’re unsure, you can always ask an employer if they’re an Accredited Employer when applying for a job. If they are, they should be familiar with the work visa process, and committed to helping migrant workers settle into the country.

Note: Employers hiring for Green List roles aren’t required to perform Job Checks, meaning they don’t have to prioritise local applicants over migrant applicants. This means you’re more likely to be offered a Green List role than other types of jobs.

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Can I apply for a Green List visa if I’m a student, or work part time?

Unfortunately, you can’t apply for a Green List visa as a student or part-time worker. You need to be a full-time employee in order to be eligible.

What you can do instead is study in a subject that will lead to employment in a Green List role, so you can apply for a Green List visa once you graduate. Graduates with relevant Green List qualifications are highly sought after and are almost guaranteed work in New Zealand.

Being eligible for a Green List role will make it easier for you to find a job and become a permanent resident in New Zealand.

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Immigration and the law

Legislation about immigration changes frequently. It’s important to check the New Zealand Immigration website for changes that may apply to you. You may want to consider getting support from a lawyer or migration agent.