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  • Writer's pictureE Dyer

What jobs provide the best opportunities for obtaining New Zealand residence? (Part 2)

Instead of (or in addition to) Skilled Migrant Category, some fortunate people have the option to apply for a Work to Residence (‘WTR’) Category work visa and get on the Work to Residence pathway to residence in New Zealand. There are actually a few different WTR categories under WTR instructions, but the one that I will be focusing on in this article is WTR - Long Term Skill Shortage List, as this is the one that most migrants will now be looking at.

People used to qualify for the WTR - Talent (Accredited Employer) pathway fairly easily if their employer had accreditation with Immigration New Zealand, but then Immigration New Zealand put the remuneration threshold for this up to NZ$79,560 per annum, which is not achievable for most New Zealanders, let alone migrants! Unsurprisingly, there are now fewer applications being made under this particular WTR category and it has become less relevant to the majority of my clients’ circumstances, thus shifting the focus to the Long Term Skill Shortage List and how people can qualify for a WTR visa under this instead.

So, how does the WTR pathway work, and how does it differ from Skilled Migrant Category?

People who are eligible to get on the WTR pathway to residence first start on a 30-month work visa. Then, after 24 months on this visa, they can directly apply for residence. Simple, right? The benefit of the WTR categories over Skilled Migrant Category (‘SMC’) is that there are often no English language requirements for the principal applicant, and your eligibility for residence isn’t based on an accumulation of points like it is with SMC. Obtaining residence is very straightforward once you’ve got the work visa because all you have to do to make yourself eligible for residence after that is wait out the 24 months.

WTR is therefore a great option if you meet the requirements for it. Coincidentally, many people who are eligible for the WTR - Long Term Skill Shortage List pathway are also eligible to apply for SMC residence, so they get a choice whether to apply for just one or both. You can cover your bases by having two different residence applications underway at the same time, which may bring peace of mind for some people, but there is absolutely no need to do both. As long as you and your family members don’t have any health or character issues, the success of your WTR residence application is virtually guaranteed if you met the criteria for it when you applied.

Both WTR and SMC take a long time for approval nowadays, but WTR is definitely the simpler and cheaper way to go. The combined onshore Immigration New Zealand fees for SMC are currently NZ$3,240, whereas for the WTR work visa and residence together it is only NZ$2,435. Immigration advisers and lawyers also tend to charge more to apply for SMC residence than they do for WTR residence. This is due to the relative lack of complexity involved in WTR applications as compared with SMC applications.

Okay, but what is the Long Term Skill Shortage List (‘LTSSL’)?

Now that you know how WTR Category works, I want to talk about the WTR - Long Term Skill Shortage List pathway specifically. The LTSSL is a list of skilled occupations that are in enduring demand all over New Zealand. Put simply, we just don’t have enough locals skilled in these occupations to meet the demand for work, so our government relies on migrants to come and fill the skill gaps. To try and retain foreign talent in New Zealand, the government also offers a pathway to residence for migrants who are capable of working in areas where there are recognised skill shortages in New Zealand. It's a mutually beneficial arrangement, but it's also like a way of saying thank you to migrants for their part in boosting New Zealand's economy.

Link to LTSSL:

The LTSSL contains occupations from the fields of construction, engineering, health and social services, ICT, science and trades predominantly. Three of the most common occupations that we deal with are Registered Nurses specialising in Aged Care, Chefs and Electricians. Let’s take a closer look at how people working in these occupations qualify for a WTR work visa:

Registered Nurse

To be eligible for a WTR work visa as a Registered Nurse, the applicant must have NZ registration in the scope of practice as a Registered Nurse with the Nursing Council of New Zealand AND a minimum of three years’ work experience in adult hospital care.

People who have overseas nursing registration and hold a Bachelor of Nursing degree can apply to the Nursing Council of New Zealand for NZ registration and an annual practising certificate. The link to start this process is copied below:

Once you have got your NZ registration, you will need an offer of employment from a New Zealand employer to work as a Registered Nurse in aged care.

Chef (includes Chef de Partie or higher)

To be eligible for a WTR work visa as a Chef, the applicant must have a certificate at NZQF Level 4, or a higher qualification, which includes the credit and knowledge requirements of a New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4) AND a minimum of five years' combined experience in establishments offering a la carte/banqueting or commercial catering, with a minimum of two years at Chef de Partie (Section Leader) level or higher.

Applicants also need to have an offer of employment from a New Zealand employer to work as a Chef, whether as a Chef de Partie, Sous Chef or Head Chef.


Electrician is an interesting one. Literally the only thing that a general electrician needs to be eligible for a WTR work visa is either full NZ registration or a Limited Certificate from the Electrical Workers Registration Board (‘EWRB’) and an offer of employment to work as an Electrician. The link to start the registration process is copied below:

The fact that a Limited Certificate is acceptable means that you can still be in training as an Electrician and get this visa, which is great if you haven’t completed the requirements for registration in your home country or have just started an apprenticeship in New Zealand.

Whatever you decide to do, it is worth consulting an immigration adviser to see what options are available to you first of all and, if your occupation is on the LTSSL, to check whether you meet the requirements specified for that occupation and discuss how you might prove this to Immigration New Zealand.

- Evelyn Dyer, Licensed Immigration Adviser



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