Looking for NZ residence?  Consider the transportation sector

Last month saw the end of an era, with the last Expression of Interest (EOI) selection taking place on 16 August 2023 under the previous Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) policy.

With the closure of this policy (prior to the “new and improved” SMC policy coming into effect on 9 October 2023), many individuals no longer have a clear pathway to secure residence, particularly if you do not have a high-level tertiary qualification, are not highly paid or don’t work in an area of shortage which is included on the Green List.

If this sounds like you, it may be time to think outside the box and consider a possible career change into the transportation industry, which now has a clear residence pathway.  We have seen a big uptick in enquiries about these routes in recent months.

While Transport Sector residence pathways shouldn’t be seen as ‘fool proof’ ways to get residence, provided you meet the general criteria (including English language requirements) and hold acceptable employment in a specified transport occupation, the pathway to residence may be as little as 24 months.

Acceptable transport occupations and requirements

The transport sector policy sets out four core occupations which provide this possible pathway to residence.

In order to be eligible, you must secure employment from an accredited employer in one of these occupations, meet the corresponding occupation requirements and undertake full-time employment in the position for at least 24 months.

We set out a summary of these requirements below:

Transport Sector OccuptionRequirements
Bus DriverYou must hold a ‘P’ endorsement on a class two New Zealand drivers’ licence and be paid at least $28 per hour and either have a job offer or current employment:

• with an employer who has signed the Waka Kotahi (New Zealand Transport Authority) ‘All Parties Memorandum of Understanding on Improving Driver Terms and Conditions’ for the region they are working in; or
• as a school bus driver on a Ministry of Education-funded school bus service; or
• as a school bus driver on a service directly contracted to a school.

Truck Driver, Aircraft Refueller, Furniture Removalist, Tanker Driver, Tow Truck DriverMust be paid at the least the median wage (currently $29.66 per hour) and hold either a class four or five New Zealand driver’s licence.
Ship's MasterMust be paid at the least the median wage (currently $29.66 per hour), and either hold:

• the Skipper Restricted Limits Certificate of Competency (CoC) with 500GT or 3000GT endorsement; or
• a Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) Certificate of Competency (CoC) that entitles the holder to perform the duties of a Ship’s Master on a vessel that is 500 gross tonnes or more (as recognised by Maritime New Zealand).
Deck HandMust be paid at the least the median wage (currently $29.66 per hour), and either hold a:

• Qualified Deck Crew Certificate of Proficiency (CoP); or
• Deck Watch Rating (DWR) Certificate of Proficiency (CoP) that entitles the holder to perform the duties of Deck Hand (as recognised by Maritime New Zealand).

If you are interested in this possible residence pathway and think it may be something that you wish to explore further, please get in touch so we can complete a more detailed eligibility assessment and provide detailed guidance about your residence pathway options.

We also recommend that your check out the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency website which provides helpful information about approved industry-based courses which can accelerate your progression through the New Zealand driver licencing system.

We recommend that further advice is sought at an early stage to confirm your eligibility and to avoid possible complications later down the line.

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