Under New Immigration Laws, Nurses Are Eligible for Immediate Residency

Read the latest update on the green list. Nurses applying for a job will get an immediate residency.

Michael Wood, Immigration Minister, announced that nurses, midwives and any specialist doctors not already eligible will be added to the straight-to-residence pathway.

Effective this Thursday, December 15th, they will be able to enter the country under the new setting. A Specific Purpose work visa will also be added for up to three years to help keep approximately 2500 critical workers in the country, and a 12-month Open Work Visa for those 1800 people who had been on Post Study Work Visas but were unable to reenter when borders closed.

The Green List is expanding to include roles such as teachers, drainlayers, mechanics and more, while bus and truck drivers will be eligible for a new pathway to temporary residence.

For those with an accreditation that starts before July 4th of next year, the employer's accreditation will be extended by one additional year. In other words, employers who are accredited before next year's date will have their accreditation for a total of two years instead of the one-year duration.

Previously, it had been proposed that accreditation requirements would be extended to all other employers; however, Wood stated this is not the case.

He announced the moves this afternoon alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern following Monday's Cabinet meeting.

Ten jobs will be added to the Green List, he said

"As part of our signalled review, we are expanding the Green List settings to include more professions in our healthcare, education and construction sectors, to give a competitive edge in a highly competitive global environment," he said.

"Since the pandemic 3474 nurses have arrived in country, but it's clear we need to do more to encourage nurses to choose New Zealand. Adding these roles will further build on the attractiveness of New Zealand to those looking to set themselves and their families up long term."

Health care workers see changes months after new system is put into place

The government has been heavily criticised since May, when it first announced its reset on immigration policy, for not allowing nurses to have a direct path to residency.

Wood agreed in July to track the settings for nurses.

Ardern stated that the World Health Organisation predicts a shortage of 10 million health workers globally by 2030, and New Zealand currently has one of the most expedited pathways for nurses to reside and work.

But in a crowded market let's make the message even simpler. Our message to nurses everywhere: we are the best place to live, work and play, you will be able to seek immediate residence.

"With wages growing faster than inflation and with the ninth-lowest inflation out of 38 OECD countries, we have much to offer."

She noted that while a high number of nurses had been applying to work in New Zealand, the government had received requests to make the process simpler.

"We were attracting nurses, we want to get ahead of the issue though."

The perception overall that the immigration settings were to blame for the labour shortage was not the whole story, Ardern said.

That means having decent wages, decent conditions, and a great place to live and work. New Zealand has that, this is about marketing ourselves successfully, not just about immigration settings.

"I think it would be wrong to say it's simply about the rules, there's a number of roles all ready to be filled."

Wood said it was a significant simplification compared to the pre-pandemic settings, which only a small subset of nurses would have been eligible for residency under.

He noted that many countries are presently struggling with a lack of workers, and the New Zealand government has responded by permitting almost 100,000 international recruitment roles and 40,000 working holiday visas. In addition to this, the RSE scheme will allow for more people to come work in NZ than ever before.

Employers still suffer from the lack of workers, which is the main issue that these new measures aim to resolve, he stated.

"While some commentators are suggesting that our labour market is starting to lose some of its heat, we are continuing to pull out all the stops to position ourselves ahead of the pack," he said.

"We are supporting those businesses and sectors feeling these shortages more acutely, like our healthcare workforce, with a mind to preparing for the year ahead."

Changes for other industries

After discussion today, Cabinet members have agreed that bus and truck drivers will be granted a two-year residence. This deal is time-limited.

The sector agreement, which is still being developed by officials in consultation with the transport sector, would be set up through this method.

"The agreement will support our work under way to improve better wages and conditions for bus drivers and local workforce development," Wood said.

"This will help relieve the national driver shortage, helping Kiwis and goods get to where they need to go."

The sector agreement is just like the ones in place for other industries such as construction, seafood, aged care, meat processing, seasonal snowfall, and adventure tourism.

The Specific Purpose visa is for long-term workers who played an important role during the Covid-19 pandemic but were ineligible for the 2021 Resident Visa.

It would allow them to stay employed in their current position for a maximum of three years.

The Open Work Visa would enable those who already had a Post Study Work Visa but were unable to use it after the border closure to enter and work in New Zealand for up to one year, provided they are not already on another visa.

Wood said the Green List "has been under constant review" and would be next reviewed in the middle of next year.

While he couldn't give an exact number, he said that the system was designed to identify how many people would be coming into New Zealand and if there was a need for more labor.

He said the rebalance was about turning away from "what was a pretty unregulated system previously".

Green list changes

Added to Green List straight-to-residence path:

  • Registered nurses (on 15 December 2022)
  • Midwives (on 15 December 2022)
  • Specialist doctors not already on the Green List (on 15 December 2022)
  • Registered Auditors (from March 2023)

Added to Green List work-to-residence path from March:

  • Civil construction supervisors
  • Gasfitters
  • Drain layers
  • Skilled crane operators
  • Skilled civil machine operators
  • Halal slaughterers
  • Skilled motor mechanics
  • Skilled telecommunications technicians
  • All secondary school teachers (some specialisations already on the Green List)
  • Primary school teachers


The new measures announced today by the New Zealand Government further demonstrate their commitment to mitigating the labor shortages facing local businesses and industries. These changes, which cover nurses, doctors, primary and secondary school teachers, civil construction supervisors and more, will go a long way in helping Kiwi employers access much needed workers from overseas. The Green List has been designed to ensure the continued success of New Zealand's booming economy, and these changes are sure to make a positive impact on businesses and individuals alike.

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