Immigration policy changes – a new way to residence for South Island workers


On Wednesday 19 April, 2017, the Immigration Minister announced changes to New Zealand’s immigration policies. One of these changes is to create a pathway to residence for people who have worked in the South Island for five years.

Who does it affect?

This is great news for migrants who may have been working here for some years, but do not have a job that is classified as being “skilled” 

This is because having a “skilled” job is the only way for many people to get residence, unless they are able to get a job with an accredited employer or enter a genuine relationship with a New Zealander. 

Many migrants in the aged sector, working as care givers, have been unable to obtain residence.  They may now be able to qualify.   Migrants working in hospitality jobs, or in lower-skilled manufacturing jobs may also be eligible.

When does it come into effect?

22 May 2017

What are the requirements?

The finer details have yet to be published, but we understand that the four main requirements will be as follows:

1. Must have spent five years, in the South Island, with an essential skills work visa. 

Some time working in the North Island may be acceptable, if it was because of the nature of their employment.  We do not yet know the details. 

2. Must have a current essential skills work visa and a good employer

The applicant must have an essential skills work visa at the time of the application.  Also, his or her employer must not have a bad record, with Immigration New Zealand or the Labour Inspectorate.

3. Must be aged 55 years or younger.

4. Must meet health and character requirements.

If the applicant has any medical conditions that are likely to impose significant costs on New Zealand’s health system or any criminal convictions, he or she may not be eligible.

How will it work?

The applicants must submit a paper application.  The application fee is likely to be about $413.

A successful applicant will then be given a visa that is valid for 30 months.  

After 24 months, during which the applicant will be required to work in the South Island, he or she can apply for residence.  The application fee, at that stage, is likely to be $1550.

Can families be included?

Yes.  An applicant can include his spouse or unmarried partner, if the couple can prove that they are living together in a genuine and stable relationship.  The applicant can also include dependent children, aged 19 and under.  The family members must meet the health and character requirements. 

If you have any queries or think you would like to start preparing an application, please contact our immigration team.



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