Questions and answers, vol 4

5. Have you got your residency for good now? Or do you have to extend it each year? After reading about your family's residency experiences I get a feeling that getting a residency is difficult and almost impossible for an Estonian. I've also been to New Zealand (as a tourist) and would love to go back, maybe even to live? Is it an impossible feat if my partner is also an Estonian?

Wow, where do I begin? =D

We've got our residency for good now, yes. We got it in July last year and there were two conditions on it: 1) that The Man works for the same company for at least 3 months (done!) and 2) that during our first 2 years of residency we spend at least 50% of our time in New Zealand (which will be done within two weeks from now), so as long as we don't move overseas in the next 2 weeks, we're sweet! We'll be able to live here until the rest of our lives, if we wanted to.

For us, getting our residency sorted was a major hassle - long and expensive - but it was a combination of both our circumstances and the system, so it wasn't just New Zealand's fault, part of the problem was our fault as well (with my fault being primarily that I am Estonian by origin so all my documents come in a foreign language). For example:

* being Estonian meant that almost every single document I supplied had to be translated, notary-approved, certified, yada-yada (time consuming and expensive),
* being Estonian meant that most of my skills/qualifications had to be assessed to be equivalent to New Zealand standards so it cost around $900 alone to get my university degree accepted and $400 to prove that I can speak English,
* The Man's employer didn't want to deal with immigration officials himself (can't blame him!) so he asked that we do everything through an immigration advisor instead (and pay for it ourselves, which was like $3,500 alone!),
* some documents had a condition that they cannot be more than 6 months old (like police checks and health checks) so we had to wait for some documents to be certified/approved before we could go ahead and start getting those other documents sorted,
* being pregnant, in immigration terms, counts as "being of insufficient health standard" so we couldn't do anything whilst I was pregnant.

But all in all, I think New Zealand is a relatively easy country to migrate to, primarily because many, many professions and skills are on a "skill shortage list": there's a lack of educated, qualified workers in New Zealand so it keeps on asking that foreigners come here and work these jobs.

Doctors and engineers are the most obvious choice, of course, but then again - I cannot think of many countries where doctors and engineers aren't on a skill shortage! So that's not news, right.

But where New Zealand does get a little different - and easier - compared to others is that there's a whole bunch of jobs which many people don't even expect to find on a skill shortage list, but in New Zealand, they are.

Well, for example: skydivers. If you happen to be a skydiver who has done a bunch of tandems and has a D category, welcome to New Zealand! Or snowboarding instructors. Or beef farmers. Or winemakers. The list could go on.

Many of them come to New Zealand on temporary work permits (easier to get) and then once they are here, they go through the residency process which is much more detailed and expensive and takes about 12 months from start to finish.

To make the system transparent, Immigration NZ have set up a simple points system : if you (or your partner) have more than 140 points (and you can prove it!), you get residency.

Most of the points come from having a qualification which is on a skill shortage list and having a job offer from an employer who can offer that job.

A colleague of mine, for example, used to work as a medical recruitment specialist and many of her clients came to work in New Zealand without even having visited New Zealand before - doctors were simply so needed that all the paperwork and interviews were done over the internet, and then they just moved here along with their wives and children. Another colleague was on a holiday in New Zealand with his wife when he realised that his profession - he's an arborist - was on a skill shortage list. Just out of curiosity he called up a company asking if they'd be interested in meeting him, in about 5 hours he was in their office having a meeting and then about 30 minutes later the company said that, yes, if he was willing to come back, they would employ him, and so now he is in New Zealand.

Company that The Man was employed by is bringing over people from UK (carpenters, bricklayers and plasterers, mostly) and most of those have also never been to New Zealand before - their paperwork gets sorted through Internet and Skype, and then they just come here.

The best option, of course, is if your profession is on a Long Term Skill Shortage List because that 1) gives you the most points and 2) shows which professions are likely to be in demand for many, many more years to come! For example, at the moment there are 71 professions on the Long Term Skill Shortage List and they include: farming scientists, construction managers, all sorts of engineers, quantity surveyors, auditors, all sorts of health professionals, IT specialists, marine officers. If you (or your partner) happen to work in one of those professions, you're almost guaranteed to get residency!

The next best option is if your profession is on a Short Term Skill Shortage List. It gives slightly fewer points and the downside is, it gets reviewed quite often. I know one woman in UK, for example, who really wanted to move to New Zealand and so she went to university to become a certified preschool teacher (solely in order to get to New Zealand, and we're talking about a 4-year degree here!), but... by the time she graduated it had been taken off the skill shortage list and so she, yet again, didn't have enough points to qualify. I think she cried for about three days in a row...

Professions on Short Term Skill Shortage List include: farmers, draughtspeople, all sorts of technicians, accountants, pharmacists, skydivers, snowboarding instructors, mechanics, scaffolders.

And then there's a Canterbury Skill Shortage List which is basically a list of construction workers who are needed to rebuild Christchurch. There's painters, glaziers, bricklayers, plasterers, tilers, surveyors... You name it, if it's a construction skill, it's probably on the skill shortage list.

***

And lastly, there is a way of moving to New Zealand without being on a skill shortage list, but then it gets really... annoyingly tricky and I'm not even sure if I really want to explain that.

But let's try: in short, if you have a profession that is considered "skilled" - meaning, it's one of those professions where you actually have to have a degree or quite a long work experience in order to be able to do it - then you might be able to get residency (even if it's not on a skill shortage list).

For that you would first need to find out if that profession is listed on ANZSCO and considered "skilled", and secondly you would also need to make sure that you have a degree/qualification that is exactly related to this profession.

Take me, for example: I used to work as a video editor (which is considered "skilled"), but I would've not been able to get residency through that job because I hadn't learned video editing in university - most of my video editing skills were from simply playing on a computer at home, uploading videos on Youtube and... googling, and for Immigration NZ that sort of stuff is irrelevant.

Then, if you do have a skilled profession, and you do have a degree/qualification to back it up, you need to find a company that is willing to offer you a job and is willing to prove to Immigration New Zealand that they really, really, really need you because they cannot find other people that would be qualified enough to do this job.

But then it's really getting into the realms of being a major pain in the a$$ and I think I should just close this topic because if you are interested enough then you can go and Google it yourself! =D

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So, yeah, sorry for making it such a long post, but it's just a really... long topic to discuss.

But you were asking about being an Estonian and whether it's more difficult getting residency being an Estonian: from the point of view of my nationality, there was absolutely no advantage whatsoever (!) in me having a husband who is a British citizen because as far as residency was concerned, his points were exactly the same as mine. They don't give out extra points for being British, or German, or whatever.

It only makes it difficult from the point of view of having to f*cking translate all the documents into English! (Oh, and getting university degrees certified. And proving that you can speak English (where, by the way, I scored even higher than my British husband, ha!))

Oh, and talking about documents: you know how Estonian birth certificates used to be issued by the Soviet Union? (Well, at least mine was, I don't know if you were "lucky" enough to be born during that era.)

Because Soviet Union doesn't exist any more, then in order to get my New Zealand residency I even had to get Estonian officials to issue me a new birth certificate, and then I had to get that certificate translated and approved because with my original birth certificate New Zealand would've told me that screw you, go get a real one =D

So from the point of view of your nationality, the only advantage you could have is if your partner was a New Zealand citizen or an Australian citizen, but then we're talking about an entirely different category here: you would be given residency not because you're smart, or qualified, or skilled - you'd be given residency because you're in love with a local guy/girl.

They wouldn't even ask you to prove your education or your work experience, they would only want you to get checked by police, checked by a local doctor and to see your marriage certificate (or if you're not married yet then they would ask that you get your friends and family to write them letters saying that you guys have been dating for more than 12 months).

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