There has been a lot of attention lately on migrants who were told great stories about certain pathways to a resident visa and who never got there. A resident visa pathway is a chain of visas you go through with the goal to get a resident visa in the end. A pathway can be a good option for many migrants who do not qualify directly for a resident visa.

But as with many things in life, you need to know what you are doing. Many people are being led to believe that by following a certain pathway they will end up with a resident visa while in reality they will strand somewhere along the pathway.


One of the most common pathways starts with a student visa. There are many foreign nationals who come to New Zealand to study in the hope they will be able to find a job after they graduate and then move on to a work or resident visa. This is a viable and good pathway IF you choose your study wisely.

When you choose a very generic and fairly low level course, such as a level 5 or 6 Business Management programme, you kind of set yourself up for failure. You might be able to get a post graduate job search visa but if you can find a job, you most likely will not be eligible for a work or resident visa. Simply because an employer will need to show that there are no suitable New Zealand candidates available for the job. This will very difficult.

So choose a study that is at Bachelor level in an area where New Zealand has a shortage in qualified people. There is no guarantee you will get the resident visa you are after, as you still will need to find a suitable job, but at least your starting point is good.

Lower Skilled Workers

Another trap lies ahead for certain lower skilled workers. Most people who do not have an occupation that is considered skilled (you will need some form of formal training to do the work) can’t get a work visa nor a resident visa. Some lower skilled occupation are in demand in New Zealand, such as heavy truck drivers and some construction workers in Canterbury. If you can find a job you most likely will get a work visa. But because your job isn’t considered skilled and does not appear on the Long Term Skill Shortage List you will not be able to get a resident visa. And this is okay, as long as you know this upfront, and don’t have unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately this often is not the case and people are in for a surprise when they apply for a resident visa.


A third group of people that has to watch out are the people who get work visas to do work as a Herd Manager or Assistant Herd Manager. You need to prove that you either have some years work experience and/or have a qualification in agriculture on level 3, 4 or 5.

However, Herd Manager is not considered to be a skilled occupation for residence purposes. A Farmer is. To be classified as a Farmer you need at least 5 years work experience as a Farmer and/or have a Bachelor Degree in agriculture. A lot of people who come to New Zealand as a Herd Manager will either have to keep renewing their work visa or leave the country after a couple of years because they can’t get a resident visa.