The new Skilled Migrant Residence Scheme opened on 9 October 2023 with a 6-point system. It is a pathway to residence for people holding skilled job offers from a New Zealand accredited employer. It replaced the Skilled Migrant Category (“SMC”) where applicants had to score 180 points to qualify under this category. Other than the new 6-point system, a big change from the old SMC rules is that only work experience gained in New Zealand will count for points. Your overseas work experience will not directly be taken into account.

The objective of Skilled Migrant Residence is to support New Zealand’s economic growth by providing for the grant of resident visas to people who demonstrate they can fill medium- to long-term skill needs in New Zealand.

Let us take a look at the new Skilled Migrant Residence and the new 6-point system.

Summary of requirements

Applicants will need to meet the following to be granted a resident visa:

  • demonstrate that they meet the health and character requirements for residence.
  • meet the minimum standard of English. Either through their citizenship, educational background, or through English language tests.
  • be 55 years or younger at the time the residence application is made.
  • meet the “skilled employment” requirement by holding current employment or offer of employment in New Zealand with an accredited employer which pays at least the equivalent of:
    • the median wage (currently $29.66 per hour) if the occupation is listed at ANZSCO skill level 1-3; or
    • 1.5 times the median wage (currently $44.49 per hour) if the occupation is listed at ANZSCO skill level 4-5, or not included in ANZSCO.
  • qualify for the 6 points from:
    • one skill category (income, qualification, or New Zealand registration, or
    • a combination of one skill category and points for years of skilled work experience in New Zealand

The new points system

Applicants must qualify for 6 points from one skill category or a combination of a skill category and New Zealand work experience. The three skill categories are:

  1. Income: Earn 6 points for 3 times the median wage, 4 points for 2 times, and 3 points for 1.5 times the median wage.
  2. Qualification: Obtain 6 points for a Doctoral degree, 5 points for a Masters degree, 4 points for a Bachelor Honours degree, and 3 points for postgraduate or Bachelor’s degrees.
  3. Occupational Registration: Claim 3-6 points for registration, license, or certification listed on Immigration New Zealand’s occupational registrations.

In addition to the points claimed in one of the skill categories above, points can be awarded for New Zealand work experience:

  • 3 points for 3 years of experience
  • 2 points for 2 years
  • 1 point for 1 year

Applying for residence

The application process begins with an Expression of Interest (EOI), an automated system determining eligibility for an invitation to apply for residence. Keep in mind that applicants over 55 years of age, or falling under specific sections 15 or 16 of the Immigration Act 2009, will not receive an invitation.

Once invited, applicants have four months to file the residence application. It’s crucial to ensure accuracy in claiming points and meeting skilled employment requirements. Individuals with convictions or deportation history may need a Special Direction from the Minister of Immigration.

Qualifying for residence under the new Skilled Migrant Residence Scheme may not be a walk in the park, but with the right information and assistance you can navigate the process successfully. If you have questions or need support in your application, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Remember, staying informed and accurate is key to a successful immigration journey.