Care Workforce: A Student to Residency Pathway

By Henny Bunardy

“Care workforce” refers to care workers who provide assistance to those in need. These include roles like mental health or addiction support workers, community support workers, personal care or aged care workers, and so on.

There is currently a lack of care workers in New Zealand, so the government is offering a pathway to residency for migrants entering the care workforce.

This is a three step process:

1. Getting a student visa to study and become a qualified care worker;

2. Getting a work visa to enter the care workforce; and

3. Getting residency after working in the care workforce for 2 years.

We’ll go through each step one by one.

Student visa

The first step is to get the right qualifications to become a care worker. One of the qualifications you can study for is the New Zealand Certificate of Heath and Well Being. This is one year of study alongside 200 hours of working an internship during the duration of your course, and it would reward you with a level 4 certificate. Depending on the school, you can also choose to specialise in electives like disability support or mental health support to further increase the range of care work you can provide.

The typical enrolment requirements would be at least 3 years of high school education; at least 5.5 IELTS English; have a clear criminal record; and be at least 18 years old.

Once your education provider is satisfied that you meet their requirements, they will give you an offer of place. This will be the key document used to apply for a student visa. There are several other requirements for a student visa, and we would be more than happy to assist you with the visa application process. We are also happy to help you find an education provider that provides a course to study towards a Certificate of Health and Well Being.

Work visa

Once you have completed your course and obtained your qualification, you will need to work as a care worker for 2 years in order to be eligible for residency. While on a work visa, you are even able to sponsor dependent family members to live with you in New Zealand.

Your job must be from an accredited employer; be for full-time work; and be paid at least $28.25 per hour. Queen City Law is also able to assist you with the work visa application process.


Finally, after working full-time for 2 years, you can apply for residency. Your minimum English requirement rises to level 6.5 IELTS, but the pathway from work to residency for people in the care workforce is largely straightforward. The main thing to watch out for is that the job you are working in for 2 years must be a Tier 2 role on the ‘Green List’.

Queen City Law is capable of guiding migrants through every step of the process to make sure they remain on track for residency. Our legal expertise means we can manage your journey to give you the best possible chance of reaching your goal.

Please feel free to contact us for more information.

We have taken care to ensure that the information given is accurate, however it is intended for general guidance only and it should not be relied upon in individual cases. Professional advice should always be sought before any decision or action is taken.