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Skilled Migrant Category

New Zealand is a fantastic country for migrants who have qualifications and skills that are needed here, and so it is little wonder that each year many thousands of migrants and their families try to gain permanent residence under the Skilled Migrant Residence category (SMC). With ongoing, long-term shortages in a number of occupations (including doctors, nurses, teachers, architects, IT professionals, engineers, electricians and chefs,) New Zealand is constantly searching for highly skilled migrants who are looking for a safe, secure and vibrant environment in which to live, work and play.

The Skilled Migrant Category provides a complex points based system for gaining residence, under which you may claim points for various factors including your qualifications, work experience, age, and your partner’s or spouse’s qualifications. There are additional points to be gained if you have a job offer in New Zealand, have studied or worked in New Zealand, or you have qualifications, work experience or a job offer in a skill-shortage occupation.

An initial application is made by way of an “ Expression of Interest” (EOI) and selections of EOIs are made fortnightly by Immigration New Zealand. Candidates claiming a points score of 140 or higher are automatically selected, while those with between 100-140 points are selected according to whether they meet various “Minister’s Criteria” published every 6 months. Once selected, EOIs then undergo a verification process that may last up to 2 or more months and candidates are then issued an “Invitation to Apply for Residence”, following which a full application for residence must then be prepared and submitted.

While the SMC provides the most common and popular route to residence for skilled migrants coming to New Zealand, it is important to be aware of and plan for the pitfalls that may await even the most careful and attentive applicant under this category. We are frequently consulted by frustrated applicants who have struck icebergs in their applications months or even years into the process.

If you’re considering applying alone under this category, then be aware. The policy selection criteria under the Skilled Migrant category are complex and processing times can range from 6-12 months (or a lot longer, if your application runs into difficulties). You’ll need to be able to understand and resolve a variety of questions such as, “Is my job offer “skilled” or not?”; Can I claim bonus points?”; “Is my qualification recognised in New Zealand?”; “Can I claim points for work experience gained in my country?”, or “Does my job offer meet policy requirements?”. You’ll also need to familiarise yourself with and gain a proper understanding of where you, your occupations and your qualifications fit on a variety of Immigration New Zealand lists, including –

  1. The List of Skilled Occupations

  2. The Long Term Skill Shortage List and Immediate Skill Shortage List

  3. The Australia & New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO)

  4. The List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment

  5. The List of Occupations requiring Registration

  6. The List of Countries in a Comparable Labour Market


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 If you’re serious about gaining SMC residence and prefer to make sure that your application is carefully strategised, properly prepared and professionally presented, contact us now to find out how to succeed at selection and secure your residence. With our expert knowledge of immigration policy and its underlying legal requirements, we’ve helped countless skilled migrants to realise their expectations under the SMC category. Our services include –

  • Full evaluations of SMC eligibility

  • Advising clients and their employers on SMC requirements including employment agreements, ANZSCO requirements and job descriptions

  • NZQA assessments

  • Registration requirements

  • Legal submissions to Immigration New Zealand regarding policy and eligibility

  • Attendance and representation at interviews

  • Resolving problems in SMC cases

  • Appeals of failed SMC cases to the Residence Review Board.

If you’re working in a Long Term Skill Shortage Occupationor an Immediate Skill Shortage Occupation we can also refer you to New Zealand employers who are in need of your skills.

If you’re studying in New Zealand and need expert advice on your residence prospects under the SMC, contact us now to arrange a consultation.

Residence from Work Category

This category generally provides a longer route to residence for talented workers who are working in New Zealand on Work-to-Residence visas, and consists of three different sub-categories:

  1. Work visas for applicants with job offers from an accredited employer

  2. Work visas for applicants with internationally-recognised talent in arts, culture or sport.

  3. Work visas for applicants in occupations in shortage in New Zealand.

Each category has its own specific set of criteria to meet and applicants must have held Work-to-Residence visas for a minimum of 24 months before being eligible to apply for permanent residence.

Contact us now for more information.

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