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Skilled Migrant Visa

New Zealand is a developed country and ranks highly in international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, and economic freedom. The country underwent major economic changes during the 1980s, which transformed it from a protectionist to a liberalised free-trade economy. The service sector dominates the national economy, followed by the industrial sector, and agriculture. International tourism is a significant source of revenue.

The Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) is the way skilled migrants qualify to gain Permanent Residence (PR) to New Zealand. It is managed by Immigration New Zealand under the Immigration Act [2009], and currently has a target of attracting 26,000 migrants per year.

The SMC combines both a points-based system as well as minimum requirements. While the points can vary (although the minimum points allowed under law is 100), the minimum requirements are that one be aged 55 or under, be healthy, be of good character, and speak English (or pay an English Language Tuition Bond).

The Points system

Under the SMC, points are allocated for age, work experience, employment in New Zealand and qualifications, amongst other categories.

Skilled employment

For skilled employment, an applicant gets 50 points for either skilled job offer in New Zealand, or if the applicant is already working in a skilled job in New Zealand for less than 12 months. If the applicant is working in a skilled job in New Zealand for more than 12 months, they get 60 points. If the job is outside the Auckland Region, a further 30 bonus points are allocated.

However, INZ only recognises certain jobs as being skilled, and these occupations are contained on Appendix 6 in the INZ manual. In addition, the applicant must also meet the work experience and qualifications prescribed to that job by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).


For qualifications, an applicant gets 40 points recognised level 4-6 qualification (e.g. trade qualification, diploma), 50 points for a recognised level 7 or 8 qualification (e.g. bachelor's degree, bachelor's degree with honours), and 60 points for recognised level 9 or 10 post-graduate qualifications (master's degree, doctorate). Foreign qualifications must be verified by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority before points can be claimed, although there are numerous exceptions to this rule. This process can take several months


If the applicant has studied in NZ, they can get 10 points for either two years full-time study in New Zealand completing a recognised bachelor's degree New Zealand qualification, or completing one year of full-time study in New Zealand completing a recognised post-graduate New Zealand qualification (15 points for 2 years' post-graduate study).


Work experience in skilled employment

Under this category, one gets the following points for skilled employment in certain countries:

10 points: 2 years

15 points: 4 years

20 points: 6 years

25 points: 8 years

30 points: 10 years


In addition to this, the applicant can also get bonus points for skilled work experience in New Zealand, five points for one year's experience, 10 points for two years' experience, and 15 points for three or more years' experience.


If the work experience is in an area of absolute skills shortage and the applicant must have the prescribed amount of work experience and qualifications.



Points for age are allocated on the following basis:

30 points: 20–32 years

25 points: 30–39 years

20 points: 40–44 years

10 points: 45–49 years

5 points: 50–55 years


Close family

Under this category, an applicant can get 10 points for having a close family member residing in New Zealand. However, the relative is limited to either an adult child or adult brother or sister, or parent of the applicant or the applicant's spouse.


The family member must also not only be a permanent resident of New Zealand, but they have done so for the last 3 years. For this category the applicant must get their relative to provide numerous banks statements, bills, etc., for each of the last 3 years as proof of residence in NZ.



If an applicant's spouse has a skilled job or skilled job offer in NZ, they can get 20 points. Also if the spouse holds a level 4-6 qualification they can get 10 points, and if their partner holds a level 7+ qualification they get 20 points.

With this visa you can

·         Live, work and study in New Zealand.

·         Include your partner, and dependent children aged 24 and under, in your residence application.


Things to note

·         They use a points-based system to assess expressions of interest.

·         Currently, they are only selecting EOIs with 160 points or above.

·         This visa isn’t designed for people who are self-employed.

Getting help with your visa