Straight to Residence Pathway for Engineers30 Aug 2023

If you hold an engineering degree and a job offer in New Zealand for an engineering role, you are likely to have a pathway to living and working permanently in New Zealand under the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) Green List (Tier 1) Straight to Residence visa category.

The engineering profession is well represented on the Green List, with 19 engineering occupations listed. If you hold a full-time job offer from an accredited employer in New Zealand for one of these roles, you may be eligible to apply directly for a resident visa, even if you are not yet in New Zealand.

However, as well as having the job offer, applicants must also meet the Green List requirements listed for each occupation. This article will explain these requirements and how an applicant can obtain a letter of certification from Engineering New Zealand, if required, to support a Green List application.

Green List Requirements

Most applicants with a job offer in an engineering occupation can meet the requirements by holding one of the following:
1. A qualification specified under that occupation on the Green List; or
2. A Washington Accord accredited (initial) engineering degree (or in certain occupations a Sydney Accord qualification is acceptable); or
3. A qualification at NZQF Level 7 or higher, with a letter from Engineering New Zealand certifying that the degree and any further learning meets the benchmark requirements for Chartered Professional Engineer professional status in New Zealand; or
4. NZ registration as a Chartered Professional Engineer by Engineering New Zealand.

1. The qualification specified on the Green List

If relying on this requirement, your qualification must exactly match the qualification listed for the role on the Green List.

In many instances the qualification must be a New Zealand qualification, but if the qualification was obtained overseas, you must also supply an International Qualifications Assessment (IQA) from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) to certify that the qualification is recognised as equivalent to the NZQF level specified for that occupation. However, a IQA is not required if the qualification is listed on the INZ List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment.

NZQA also provides an add-on service, at additional cost, for an IQA to certify an applicant’s qualification meets the requirements for a specific occupation listed on the Green List (NZQA refers to this as a “Skill Shortage List IQA”).

NZQA Fees:
  • Standard IQA: $445
  • Skill Shortage List IQA: $610
  • Processing Time: Up to 16 weeks

2. A Washington Accord degree (occasionally a Sydney Accord degree is acceptable)

There are two international engineering educational standards that INZ can recognise as meeting the Green List requirement:
1. The Sydney Accord: for Engineering Technology qualifications (NZQA Level 7)
2. The Washington Accord: for Bachelor of Engineering (with Honours) qualifications (NZQA Level 8)

Regarding these educational standards, INZ provides the following advice:
Where a Washington Accord accredited undergraduate engineering degree is required, the engineering degree has to be awarded from or after the date the country became a signatory, and must be on the list of accredited programmes of the signatory country. To determine if an engineering degree awarded is Washington Accord accredited, refer to the links from the International Engineering Alliance on their website Washington Accord | International Engineering Alliance.

The same advice is provided for occupations where a Sydney Accord degree can meet the requirements.

Please appreciate that when assessing whether your degree is accredited:
  • the accreditation standards only relate to undergraduate engineering degrees, and
  • the qualification must have been completed in a country that is a full (and not provisional) signatory to the Accord at the time of completion

3. A qualification at NZQF Level 7 or higher, with a letter from Engineering New Zealand

If your overseas degree is not specifically stated on the Green List, it may still be able to be recognised by NZQA at Level 7 or higher by undergoing the IQA process, if required. However, in this case, Engineering New Zealand will also need to assess the qualification to certify it meets the benchmark requirements for Chartered Professional Engineer professional status in New Zealand.

In this case the NZQA assessment is undertaken separately and does not need to be completed prior to requesting the letter from Engineering New Zealand.

How can an applicant obtain this letter from Engineering New Zealand?

Credential Check
Engineering New Zealand (ENZ) provides a Credential Check service to assess whether a degree is equivalent to a Washington Accord degree. A successful Credential Check will result in a letter being issued from Engineering New Zealand to certify this equivalence, since this is the benchmark requirement for Chartered Professional Engineer status.

The Credential Check assesses qualifications you have completed, memberships and registrations with international engineering organisations and assessments with Engineers Australia, NCEES (USA) or any past knowledge assessments with IPENZ.

Engineering New Zealand provides a comprehensive document of links to databases for each country to assess whether an overseas qualification is likely to meet the Washington Accord equivalence requirements as part of the Credential Check. Applicants should check this first before deciding to proceed with a Credential Check and more information is provided on the ENZ website.

Equivalent Knowledge Assessment
If, during the Credential Check process, an applicant’s degree is not assessed as equivalent to the Washington Accord benchmark, they can have the opportunity to submit evidence of further learning and experience to enable an Equivalent Knowledge Assessment to be made.

This further assessment process involves submitting a portfolio of evidence which may include, but is not limited to, the following:
  • Postgraduate qualifications and any other academic learning
  • Professional development undertaken
  • Work samples of projects completed
  • Reflections on how the evidence provided is able to meet the benchmark criteria

During this assessment, applicants will also undergo an interview to provide an opportunity to comment on how their knowledge and experience may meet the requirements.

The likelihood is that applicants will need to evidence several years of practical professional experience, and/or project work, in order to be assessed as meeting the benchmark standards.

  • Knowledge Assessment Fee: $1,486.38 (including GST)
  • Processing Time: 6 to 8 weeks

4. NZ registration as a Chartered Professional Engineer by Engineering New Zealand

The fourth option for an applicant to meet the Green List requirements is by obtaining registration as a Chartered Professional Engineer by Engineering New Zealand.

Obtaining registration involves a comprehensive assessment, similar to the equivalent knowledge assessment and, in all likelihood, the Green List requirement will have been met from this knowledge assessment. However, it is very likely that a professional engineer will first have gained New Zealand residence, relying on one of the previous options, prior to obtaining registration with Engineering New Zealand.

Engineering New Zealand

Engineering New Zealand is a non-profit membership organisation dedicated to promoting the interests of engineers and engineering, and to providing a community of learning, collaboration, and support for engineers from all disciplines in New Zealand.

There are also many benefits to signing up as a member of Engineering New Zealand, including access to:
  • professional networks and support throughout the country
  • educational events and professional development
  • engineering resources, email newsletters, and the member magazine
  • a free Credential Check for members

Engineering New Zealand is very supportive of assisting migrant engineers with guidance of their New Zealand relocation and provides comprehensive information about immigrating to New Zealand as a professional engineer on their website. They also have a Special Interest Group for Immigrant Engineers to support migrant engineers with working in New Zealand (and you do not have to be a member to join). We encourage anyone wishing to know more about the above processes, and Engineering New Zealand membership to contact ENZ directly at [email protected].

New Zealand work and residence visas

The Immigration NZ Green List provides an excellent pathway for a wide cross section of engineers, from many disciplines, to directly obtain residence in New Zealand. However, gathering the evidence required to demonstrate your eligibility is not always a straight-forward process.

The Pathways™ team of licensed immigration advisers is available to guide you through this process and working alongside Engineering New Zealand. Do not hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation to assess your New Zealand visa eligibility!!