Who is a New Zealand Skilled Migrant Resident Visa for?

The purpose of the Skilled Migrant Category is to attract migrants who

  • possess the skills the country is short of,
  • are able to transfer these skills to New Zealand,
  • can bring both economic and social benefit into the country, and
  • can easily settle here.

Amazing as it may seem, New Zealand as we know it and which you may be already contemplating to call your home, needs you more than you may be aware of. In fact, it is immigration which makes it the vibrant, multi-cultural place a lot of people fall in love with.

Recognising the importance of bringing ‘new blood’ into the economy, the Government agenda includes steps to strengthen New Zealand economic prospects and, to this end, encourage the direct contribution of migration to the workforce and economy.

What about my family, can I use the same application for them?

Some good news here – your partner and dependent children can be included. 

They do not have to contribute capacity building points (that is, recognised qualification and/or skilled employment experience), but do have to meet character and health standards, as well as English language proficiency level for secondary applicants.

How to check if you are eligible?

Skilled Migrant category is a system based on points, which can be calculated taking into account all the relevant details. 

Employment is the key

This visa is tailored for those in skilled employment. You cannot be self-employed to qualify.

Whereas the mere maths of adding up the points may be quite straightforward, it is the method of calculation that everybody makes so much fuss about. It is not unusual for applicants and immigration officers to lock horns explaining why a qualification is recognized or work experience is necessarily to be considered skilled.

Whilst you can find most information in the summary below and, in more detail, in the INZ Operational Manual, to know beyond a shadow of doubt whether you are eligible, book a free 30-minute consultation with our expert immigration advisor. 

Getting a New Zealand Skilled Migrant Resident Visa is a two-stage process. 

Stage 1

Expression of Interest (EOI) is entered into the pool, but the chances to progress to the next stage are slim unless

  • all necessary health and character requirements are met.
    We would recommend you to bear in mind that the health standards are much higher compared to, for example, work visas, and some serious medical conditions will not make a waiver possible. Likewise, considerably harsher character requirements are imposed on those applicants for residence class visas who may be seeking, for example, a character waiver, or may fall under the description of section 15 or 16 of the Immigration Act 2009.
  • the minimum standard of English is confirmed to have been achieved.
    For the purpose of Skilled Migrant Resident Visa, the minimum standard of English to be met is, for example, a 6.5 overall band IELTS score in either Academic or General module unless the principal applicant holds the citizenship of one of the English-speaking countries and has spent considerable time in employment there, or has gained a level 7 or level 8 qualification comparable to that of New Zealand with a minimum time spent while studying. Other major testing systems results, like TOEFL iBT, PTE Academic and others, are also acceptable.
  • at least 100 points are claimed for employability and capacity building factors, including either points for recognised qualification or skilled work experience.
  • the applicant is 55 years of age or younger at the time the EOI is submitted.

Stage 2

  • Applications are selected from the pool if the total number of points is 160 or higher. Unselected EOIs remain in the pool for 6 months before being removed
  • The immigration officer considers the information in the EOI credible, and health and character issues unlikely.
  • After initial verification, the applicant is then issued with an Invitation to Apply (ITA).
  • To be considered, the subsequent application has to be made within 4 months of the date of ITA (with the exception of ITAs dated between 1 November 2019 and 15 April 2020 inclusive, where the time frame is 10 months).
  • After full verification the application is assessed and, subsequently, approved, deferred or declined.

SMC candidates are often caught out by minor details. Here are some essentials of how the points are calculated and what to make note of

Points collection categoryUseful hints
Skilled employment
To qualify for points, the employment should be genuine, ongoing and sustainable, full-time (at least 30 hours, not including overtime); it should pay salary (not based on commission or retainer fee)
Skilled employment – additional points may be earnedIf the employment is in an area of absolute skills shortage, if it is outside the Auckland region, if the remuneration is high
Skilled Work ExperienceWith a few exceptions, points may be claimed if skilled work experience was in an ANZSCO skill level 1,2,3 occupation, the work done substantially matched the description for that occupation, and the applicant could provide sufficient evidence of being suitably qualified to do that work.

If the above is not the case but the person who is applying qualifies for points for skilled employment and the remuneration is set at a high level, the skilled work experience may still be taken into consideration. Many people turn a blind eye on a crucial requirement that they have to be suitably qualified before their work experience is considered ‘skilled’. The skilled employment must be obtained lawfully.

Another possible caveat is that when an occupation is on a Long Term Shortage Skill List, the qualification bar there is usually set higher compared to ANZSCO, so the former has priority.Skilled Work Experience must have been gained in a labour market which is comparable to New Zealand except when:

– A skilled employment offer, or a skilled employment, is available, or
– The employment in an area of absolute skills shortage (on a Long Term Shortage Skill List).

In these cases above, it is immaterial where the work experience was gained.
Relationship between Skilled Work Experience and Employment OfferContrary to a popular opinion, Skilled Work Experience does not necessarily have to be in the same occupation as the applicant’s job offer. However, in such case it must be one at skills level 1,2 or 3 on the ANZSCO list.Points may be also claimed for work experience which was in a lower-skilled occupation (or it is listed as an exception in Appendix 7 https://www.immigration.govt.nz/opsmanual/#72993.htm if it was in the same occupation as the offer of employment and the applicant was suitably qualified by training or experience before starting to gain this experience, and the applicant qualifies for point for skilled employment
Can secondary applicants claim points for skilled employment in New Zealand or recognised qualification?Yes, but only if the secondary applicant meets the English language requirements for principal applicants
Recognised qualificationThere is no need to provide an International Qualification Assessment (IQA) by NZQA if your qualification is exempt (that is, included in the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment). Points will not be awarded if the principal applicant claiming points was either unlawfully in the country where the study took place, or did not have a proper authority to do such study whereas it was required.
Bonus points for recognised qualificationMay be claimed for New Zealand qualifications at level 7,8,9,10 if studied full-time.
May be claimed for partners’ New Zealand qualifications at level 7,8,9,10.
A partner is eligible to claim points for his or her qualificationIf the minimum requirements for partnership are met, the couple have been living together for longer than 12 months, and the partner is included in the application and meets the English language proficiency standard on a par with the principal applicant.

What are you entitled to if you have a Skilled Migrant Resident Visa?

You can

  • live and work in New Zealand indefinitely,
  • study in New Zealand as a domestic student and enjoy preferential fee policy,
  • use most publicly funded services (for example, health care),
  • make your voice heard in New Zealand political life, i.e. you can vote in elections,
  • after 2 years apply for a permanent resident visa to have absolute freedom of travelling (provided you have shown your close ties with the country, for example, by spending the required amount of time during that period, have become a resident for tax purposes, and through some other ways),
  • to name but a few.

If you feel like joining a most vibrant community of professionals and indulge in an unsurpassed lifestyle of the perfect work-life balance, it is highly advisable to seek professional guidance of experienced professionals. 

Skilled migrant category warrants particular attention to details as, firstly, the stakes are high and, secondly, the standards to meet are much tougher compared to temporary visas. An application under normal circumstances takes about 18-24 months to process and wrongfully prepared paperwork may cause delays or the application being rejected. There is, however, a way to bypass disheartening rejections over miniscule flaws and the feeling of the ground shifting under your feet.

Book your free 30-minute consultation session now and let our team of experts guide you on this treacherous path, look into the tiniest details of your situation and prepare for a smooth launch of your application.