The Government is rejigging New Zealand's immigration systems in what it describes as a "rebalancing" away from low-skilled, low paying jobs and more towards higher skilled jobs in industries facing staff shortages.
The changes, announced Wednesday by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi, include the introduction of a Green List of "highly skilled roles identified as being in high demand globally and in ongoing shortage in New Zealand."
The Green List includes 44 occupations that allow eligible migrants to apply for work visas from July 4, and residence visas from September.
The occupations are mainly geared towards the construction, health care and IT industries and include roles such as civil engineers, surgeons and other medical practitioners, food technologists and software engineers.
The Green List also lists another 16 occupations which will allow migrants to enter the country on work visas and apply for residence visas after two years.
These include medical roles such as laboratory technicians, occupational therapists and registered nurses and other jobs such as secondary school teachers, electricians, mechanics and dairy farm managers.
The rules give migrants applying for jobs on either list a clear pathway to residence.
The partners of migrants in Green List occupations will also have open work rights.
The Government says the Green List is shorter and more targeted than the current skills shortage list, which it will replace.
The visa application process is also being streamlined to make it easier for employers to hire migrants for jobs on the Green List.
The application process will be entirely online, with Immigration NZ aiming to process all Green List applications within 40 days.
However migrants will still be able to apply for work visas for jobs that are not on the Green List.
In general, migrants filling non-Green List roles will need to be paid a minimum of $27.76 an hour (the median wage), which will be adjusted annually.
However there is a long list of exemptions to that rule, which will require a minimum wage of just $25 a hour, mainly in the tourism and hospitality sector.
A minimum wage of $25.39 will apply for migrants working in personal and disability care roles that do not require higher qualifications.
Work visas for these roles will be for two years, after which they can be extended provided the migrant is being paid at least the NZ median wage.
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