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New Zealand is adding 17 occupations including prison guards, welders and aviation engineers to its Immigration Green List, which provides a fast-track to residency.

From next year, employers in sectors such as information technology, automotive and engineering will have the option of Green List visas when they need to fill a specialist role and a New Zealand worker can't be found, Immigration Minister Andrew Little said Saturday in Wellington. Other jobs added to the list include database and systems administrators, panel beaters, road-roller operators and vehicle painters, he said.

The list has expanded since the pandemic created skills shortages in a range of industries. The government expects offering residence will make New Zealand more attractive as it competes for foreign workers.

New Zealand immigration is surging at a record pace, with a net 135,000 foreigners arriving in the country in the year through July. The arrivals have helped ease pressure in the labor market but the Treasury Department has said the extra demand may add to inflation pressure.

The government also added seven occupations including machine operators and road-traffic controllers to a separate list which enables employers in the construction and infrastructure sector to recruit migrants at a lower wage threshold than the normal work visa allows.