Immigration New Zealand have announced that they will be replacing the current Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) Resident Visa with a streamlined points system on 9 October 2023. Under the new settings, you must be able to claim 6 points to be eligible.
If you wish to apply under the current SMC policy (and meet the current criteria of claiming 180 points), you have until 11.59pm on 15th August 2023 (NZT) to submit your EOI, with the final selections taking place on 16th August 2023.
From 9th October 2023, all SMC applicants will need to have a skilled job offer, or current employment in a skilled role, with an Accredited Employer, that is at least 30 hours per week and on a permanent or fixed term contract for at least 12 months.
They must be paid at least:
- the median wage (NZD $29.66 per hour) for occupations classified at ANZSCO skill level 1-3, or
- 1.5 times the median wage (NZD $44.49 per hour) for occupations classified at ANZSCO skill level 4-5.
In addition, they need six points to apply. This can be made up from skill indicators and skilled work experience in New Zealand.
You can claim 3 to 6 points for one of the below skill indicators:
- New Zealand occupational registration
- a recognised qualification (which must be a Bacheolor’s degree or higher)
- or your income (earning at least 1.5 times the median wage in New Zealand)
You can only claim from one of these skill indicators and can choose whichever gives you the most points.
Skilled work experience in New Zealand
You can claim 1 point per year of work in a New Zealand skilled job, up to a maximum of 3 points.
You can combine your Skill indicator points with your points from Skilled work experience in New Zealand, to make up the total of 6 points that is required.
The following requirements for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa remain unchanged:
- character requirements
- health requirements
- English language requirements
- age requirements (you must be 55 years old or under to apply).
How many points can I claim from occupational registration in New Zealand?
Your occupation must be on the list of eligible roles requiring occupational registration:
Points will be awarded as follows:
- 6 points – A minimum of 6 years of training is required to gain registration.
- 5 points – A minimum of 5 years of training is required to gain registration.
- 4 points – A minimum of 4 years of training is required to gain registration.
- 3 points – A minimum of 2 years of training is required to gain registration
How many points can I claim for my qualification?
Qualifications from outside New Zealand will still need to be assessed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) as equivalent to a New Zealand qualification, in order to claim points. Some qualifications are exempt from assessment – Immigration New Zealand are currently updating this list.
Points will be awarded as follows:
- 6 points – Level 10 Doctoral Degree
- 5 points – Level 9 Master’s Degree
- 4 points – Level 8 Bachelor Honours Degree or Postgraduate Diploma
- 3 points – Level 8 Postgraduate Certificate & Level 7 Bachelor’s degree
If you have a non-degree qualification at NZQF Level 7 or below, you will not be able to claim points under the new points system.
How many points can I claim for my income?
All applicants must earn at least the New Zealand median wage (NZD $29.66) to apply and the job or job offer must be:
- from an accredited employer
- at least 30 hours a week, and
- on a permanent contract or fixed-term contract for at least 12 months.
The following points can be claimed for higher income levels:
- 6 points – Job or job offer at 3 times the median wage (currently NZD $88.98 an hour) or more.
- 4 points – Job or job offer at 2 times the median wage (currently NZD $59.32 an hour) or more.
- 3 points – Job or job offer at 1.5 times the median wage (currently NZD $44.49 an hour) or more.
The Highly Paid Residence Visa will now be incorporated into the SMC instead of remaining a separate category.
How many points can I get for skilled work experience in New Zealand?
You will be able to claim 1 point for each year of skilled work experience you have in New Zealand, up to a maximum of 3 points.
The skilled work experience must be in a full-time job (minimum of 30 hours a week). There is also a wage threshold depending on the ANZSCO level of the job:
- People in ANZSCO level 1 to 3 roles must earn the median wage or above.
- People in ANZSCO level 4 to 5 roles must earn 1.5 times the median wage or above.
Points for skilled work experience in New Zealand will be awarded as follows:
- 3 points – for working 36 months during the 60 months before you apply
- 2 points – for working 24 months during the 48 months before you apply
- 1 point – for working 12 months during the 24 months before you apply
Number of applications accepted and processing times
There will be no cap on the number of people who can gain residence if they meet the skills threshold.
Straight-forward applications that have all the required information will be decided within 6 to 8 weeks.
Final Expression of Interest selection of current SMC
Immigration New Zealand will continue to conduct monthly draws of all expressions of interest (EOIs) that meet the current 180 points threshold, until the final selection on 16 August 2023. You can still submit an EOI under the current SMC settings until 11:59pm on 15 August (NZT) and, if invited to apply for residence, you will have four months to apply under the current SMC settings.
At the final draw, all EOIs within the Pool will be selected and assessed. Only those claiming 180 points will be invited to apply for residence.
If you don’t meet the 180 points threshold you won’t be invited to apply for residence. You may be able to apply under the new points system from 9 October 2023, however, if you are eligible.
Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa
If you apply for the new Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa and your current temporary visa expires while your application is being processed, you will be granted a Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa, which will come into effect the day after your current visa expires.
This will allow you to stay in New Zealand while your Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa is processed. You will also be able to travel in and out of New Zealand on your Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa.
Any conditions that apply to your current visa will apply to your Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa. And you will not be able to apply for another temporary visa once you are on an Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa.
The Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa will expire the soonest of:
- 24 months after the start date
- the date your residence visa is approved, or
- if the residence visa application is declined or withdrawn, 2 months after the decision is made on your residence application.
Other residence pathways
The Green List Tier 1 – Straight to Residence and Tier 2 – Work to Residence pathways will remain unchanged.
In addition, the Sector Agreement residence pathways, for the Care Workforce Sector and Transport Sector, will continue.
Get in touch
Further details will be released closer to the introduction of the new policy. In the meantime, we understand that the changes can be confusing and unsettling, so if you have any questions, please get in touch.