The Green Party says the Government's new investor visa is a slap in the face for nurses because it allows the super wealthy to purchase residency, while essential workers are forced to jump through hoops.
On Wednesday the Government revealed it had created a new investor migrant visa aimed at attracting experienced, high-value investors to invest in New Zealand businesses.
The Active Investor Plus visa will replace the old investment visa categories. To be eligible migrants must make a minimum $5 million investment with only 50 percent able to be invested in listed equities.
Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash said the new category will encourage investment and boost the country's economy.
"We want to encourage active investment into New Zealand, which generates more high-skilled jobs and economic growth compared to passive investment," Nash said.
But Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson criticised the new visa on Thursday. Davidson told AM Early it allows the super wealthy easy residency while essential workers such as nurses have to meet stringent criteria.
"We are asking some of our essential workers to jump through hoops just to have any sort of hope for residency, just to have any sort of understanding of putting down some roots here, while we are allowing the super wealthy to just purchase residency, that's not fair at all," Davidson said.
She said allowing wealthy people to buy residency was a slap in the face for hard-working essential workers such as nurses and midwives.
"That's a violent reference but I think it's probably appropriate because of the struggle after having given so much and still giving so much," she said.
"Our care workers, our midwives and nurses are crucial and there is a shortage. We've got those industries screaming out for support and having certainty and pathways to residency and being on the sped-up process would be a bit of a sign to say, 'We care about your work and we want you to put down roots here'."
Earlier in the year, the Government announced a new Green List for skilled immigrants. The fast-tracked residency pathway means those in certain skilled occupations could come to the country on a work visa from July 4 and apply for residency from September.
A Work to Residency Pathway allows other occupations to apply for residency but only after working in the country for two years first.
Occupations on the fast-tracked list include GPs, surgeons, engineers and several construction roles. The second pathway includes nurses, midwives and teachers.
The reset was widely criticised as being sexist with Family Planning, Plunket and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation taking fire at the fact that mostly male-dominated jobs made it into the first list while female-dominated jobs were on the secondary list.
But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has defended the decision suggesting nurses who are unwilling to work in the industry for two years perhaps don't actually want to be nurses in Aotearoa.
"If the issue is that we have a nursing shortage, why would you not want someone who came into the country to come in not just with a qualification but with a commitment to be a nurse?" the Prime Minister questioned.
"If people think that the barrier is too high that suggests that perhaps they don't want to be a nurse in New Zealand, and that is really what we need them for."
Ardern said nurses were excluded but not doctors because data suggested they were slightly more likely to leave the industry once they arrived but she couldn't provide said data.