On October 9th, 2023, the New Zealand Government will implement a new points system for the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) Resident Visa. This update is designed to streamline the application process and provide a faster path to residence for highly skilled migrants. In this blog post, we’ll answer some of your most frequently asked questions about these changes.
Q1: What are the main changes to the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa?
The primary changes include a new points system, new requirements for a skilled job or job offer, changes in the number of applications accepted, and processing times. There is also a new Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa.
Q2: How many points do I need to apply?
Applicants will need a minimum of 6 points to apply. These points can be claimed based on New Zealand occupational registration, qualifications (Bachelor’s degree or higher), or income from a job or job offer (earning at least 1.5 times the median wage in New Zealand).
Q3: How are points awarded for occupational registration, qualifications, and income?
Points are awarded in the following ways:
- For occupational registration, you can claim points if your registration is on the list of eligible New Zealand occupational registrations. The number of points depends on the level of training required for the registration.
- For qualifications, points are awarded based on the highest level of qualification you have and its New Zealand Qualification Framework level (NZQF).
- For income, points are awarded based on your wage. The more you earn, the more points you can claim.
Q4: Can I claim points for my work experience in New Zealand?
Yes, you can claim 1 point for each year of skilled work experience 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), and there is a wage threshold depending on the ANZSCO level of the job.
Q5: What are the requirements for the job or job offer?
You must have a skilled job or job offer with an accredited employer in New Zealand to apply. This job or job offer must be at least 30 hours a week, and be in an ANZSCO Level 1 to 3 occupation and paid at or above the median wage, or in an ANZSCO Level 4 to 5 occupation and paid at or above 1.5 times the median wage. It should be on a permanent contract or a fixed-term contract for at least 12 months.
Q6: Are there any unchanged requirements?
Yes, some of the current requirements for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa are not changing. These include character requirements, health requirements, English language requirements, and age requirements (you must be 55 years old or under to apply).
Q7: What is the 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. This Interim Visa will come into effect the day after your current visa expires.
Q8: How long will my application take to process?
Straightforward applications that have all the required information will be decided within 6 to 8 weeks.
Q9: Will the current SMC stop?
Yes. Final Expression of Interest (EOI) selection under current rules is on 16/08/2023.
Q10: I’m unsure which SMC option would be more advantageous for me: 180 points or 6 points. Can you offer any guidance?
To determine which option is best for you, there are several important factors to consider.
For example, is your employer accredited? The new SMC requires a job offer from an accredited employer.
Additionally, your highest level of education matters; if you have a lower qualification, the current SMC may be more favorable, as the new SMC only recognises Bachelor’s and higher degrees.
Do you have work experience outside of New Zealand? If so, it won’t be recognised under the new SMC, making the current SMC a better option. Also, your salary plays a role; if you earn over $88.98 per hour (3x the median wage), you may be eligible for the new SMC based on salary alone.
When it comes to immigration, there are always many factors to take into account. It’s advisable to seek guidance from professionals like our Licensed Immigration Advisers.
We trust that this Q&A has provided you with a clear understanding of the updated points system for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa. Should you require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team of knowledgeable immigration advisors is readily available to assist you in navigating these modifications and ensuring a hassle-free journey to New Zealand.