What is a Skilled Migrant Category Residence Visa?
This highly popular visa under the 'Skilled Migrant Category' leads to the grant of a New Zealand resident visa to candidates who have skills that are needed in New Zealand, that are able to make use or transfer these skills, and that will successfully settle and contribute to the country. It is the main step towards getting permanent residency in New Zealand.
How do I get a Skilled Migrant Residence Visa?
It's a points-based systems whereby points are claimed under various criteria such as registration, qualifications, a certain salary threshold, and a job offer in New Zealand. A candidate must obtain at least 6 points and satisfy mandatory health and character requirements. When applying under the Skilled Migrant Category, you must have a job offer with an Accredited Employer, be guaranteed a minimum of 30 hours per week and have either a permanent offer of employment or a contract for 12+ months.
You must also be paid a minimum of the median wage (currently $29.66/hour) or the market rate (if higher than median wage) for your role, if it listed as skill level 1, 2, or 3 in ANZSCO. You must be paid at least 1.5 median wage (currently $44.49/hour) if it is listed as skill level 4 or 5 in ANZSCO.
How are points claimed under the Skilled Migrant Category?
Under the points system, applicants must have at least 6 points to be eligible for the SMC visa. The points are allocated via a threshold outlined by Immigration New Zealand from one of the following three categories, under which you can claim 3 to 6 points for:
- New Zealand occupational registration, or
- A recognised qualification (Bachelor’s degree or higher), or
- income from your job or job offer (earning at least 1.5 times the median wage in New Zealand).
You can only claim points from one of the above skill indicators.
In addition to the above, you can also claim 1 point for each year of skilled work experience in New Zealand, up to a maximum of 3 points (3 years). In other words, the points you claim from skilled work in New Zealand can be combined with points from your New Zealand occupational registration, qualification or income.
How to claim points for Occupational Registration
You will be able to claim points for a New Zealand Occupational Registration if your occupations features on the list of eligible occupational registrations.
Registrations that require more training are worth more points.
- 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
This 'years of training' is a general consideration and is not related to how much experience the applicant has. For instance, Teachers are deemed as requiring 5 years of training and thus NZ Teaching Council registration is worth 5 points. But this is regardless of how much experience the applicant actually has, whether 2 years or 10 years' post-qualification.
How to claim points for a recognised qualification
You may be able to claim points for a qualification being recognised as the equivalent of a level 7 Bachelor Degree or above. If your qualification has been obtained outside New Zealand and it is not automatically recognised in Immigration New Zealand policy, you will need to undertake a qualification assessment with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), or a relevant occupational registration body, in order to claim points for your qualification.
You may be able to claim points for a recognised qualification 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
Non-degree level 7 qualification are not eligible for points.
It is also important to mention that the qualification you are claiming points for does not necessarily need to be relevant to your New Zealand skilled employment (the job you are in).
How to claim points for your income
In addition to the above, you can claim the points for income 1.5, twice, or three times the median wage.
- 6 points - Job at 3 times the median wage (currently NZD $88.98 an hour) or more.
- 4 points - Job at 2 times the median wage (currently NZD $59.32 an hour) or more.
- 3 points - Job at 1.5 times the median wage (currently NZD $44.49 an hour) or more.
How to claim points for skilled work experience in New Zealand
In addition to claiming points in any of the three categories above (occupational registration, qualification or income), you may also claim points for New Zealand experience.
The more points you can claim in a category above, the less New Zealand experience you will have to demonstrate.
In order to claim points for skilled work experience in New Zealand, the experience must be in a full-time role (at least 30 hours per 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 ($29.66/hour)
- People in ANZSCO level 4 to 5 roles must earn 1.5 times the median wage or above ($44.49/hour)
You can claim points for skilled work experience in New Zealand from:
- 3 points - 36 months of NZ experience during the 60 months before you apply
- 2 points - 24 months of NZ experience during the 48 months before you apply
- 1 point - 12 months of NZ experience during the 24 months before you apply
If you are claiming points for New Zealand work experience AND points for income, you will need to demonstrate that you held that income throughout the entire work experience you are claiming points for.
If you are claiming points for New Zealand work experience AND points for occupational registration, you will need to demonstrate that you held that that registration throughout the entire work experience you are claiming points for.
How long does it take to get a Skilled Migrant visa for New Zealand?
Processing times vary over time, but on average prioritised applications take 4-7 weeks, while non-prioritised applications take 2-18 months. Prioritisation criteria include occupational registration and high salary (twice the NZ Median wage).
What if my work visa runs out before my residence application is approved?
If you have a Skilled Migrant Category residence application in process at the time your temporary work visa exxpires, you will automatically be granted a Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa. This visa will start the day after your temporary work visa expires and will remain until a decision has been made on your residency application.
What does this application cost?
For 2023, the advertised fees per family are:
- Band A (NZ): NZD $4,290
- Band B (Pacific): NZD $4,020
- Band C (rest of world): NZD $4,890.
These fees include Goods and Services Tax (GST).
What if I am not eligible under this category?
How do I secure a job in New Zealand?
There is a range of strategies we can recommend and assist with, throughout your migration plans. In addition to providing a Job Search package to our full service clients, we are also well connected, with a wide range of employer and recruiter contacts throughout New Zealand, and will endeavour to make connections wherever possible.
Do I need a Licensed Immigration Adviser to help?
Because the requirements under each Green list occupation are very specific, you need to ensure that all requirements are met. This is why it is essential to have your eligibility assessed by a licensed immigration advisor to ensure you can avoid costly disappointment wherever possible.
What can go wrong on such applications?
There is a long list of examples of how an application could fail. These could be tied to the NZ employer not meeting certain requirements, a discrepancy between the role offered and your profile or background, fine details leading you to not meeting the specific requirements of your applications, character or health concerns
How New Zealand Shores can help
- We can provide a full eligibility assessment from your CV/Resume, to determine the chance of meeting the requirements. This assessment is done by a licensed immigration adviser.
- If you decide to engage with our full service, your personal adviser will manage everything required for the entire process, taking all the stress off your shoulders.
- We may help you find a job in New Zealand
- We will apply for a visa on your behalf. Any temporary visa applications that may be required (such as work visas to allow you to start work while your Green List Residence application is being processed) are included in our price!
- Job search support.
- Advice on CV writing/modifying for the unique New Zealand market.
- Settlement advice and support – we know what life is like in NZ.
- We are based in New Zealand, so can deal with local employers on your behalf – a huge advantage over off-shore immigration consultants.
Get your free eligibility assessment
We are serious about privacy.
The information you provide is secure and is only used to assess your enquiry.