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Skilled Migrant Changes

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15/02/20224 min read

Skilled Migrant Category updates

There have been no selections of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool since the last draw on 18 March 2020. This means no one has been invited to apply for residence after 18/03/2020. The Minister of Immigration said in late June 2021 an announcement to restart selections would be made "soon".

Residence applications lodged under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) for anyone invited to apply for residence before 18 March 2020 continue to be processed but the sheer volume of applications is causing long delays. The information on this page sets out the recent changes to this category and apply to SMC residence applications lodged after the "effective dates".

Change effective 19/07/2021

The government has increased the median wage to $27 per hour from 19 July. Any Skilled Migrant residence application lodged after this date will need to include a skilled job offer that pays at least $27 per hour. For some lower-skilled occupations, the minimum pay rate increases to $40.50 per hour. Bonus points for employment paid a "high remuneration" will need to earn at least $54 per hour to qualify for the extra points. This change does not affect applications lodged before 19 July. ​

Change effective 15/02/2021

Skilled occupation "Dairy Cattle Farmer" spilt into three occupations. New occupations are: "Dairy Farm Manager", "Assistant Dairy Farm Manager" and "Dairy Herd Manager". Each sit at different skill levels, therefore, the award of points will depend on pay rates, job tasks and other requirements. Take advice.

Change effective 19/10/2020

The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool for six months (to be reviewed in April 2021). Invitations to Apply for Residence remain suspended. The last selection from the Skilled Migrant pool took place on 18/03/2020.

Note: the government has made no announcement or decision when selections will resume despite the April 2021 review date passing.

Change effective 27/07/2020

The government added four new occupations that are now regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. These are:

Aged or disabled carer

Bicycle mechanic


Nursing Support worker

Take advice before proceeding with an Expression of Interest or residence application based on one of these job offers. Special rules apply.

Change effective 18/05/2020

Anyone invited by Immigration NZ to apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category where their invitation is dated between 1 November 2019 and 15 April 2020 (inclusive) has now been granted an additional six months to lodge their residence application. Normally invitations are only valid for four months but due to the difficulty to secure certain documents (e.g. medicals, police certificates etc)
from disruption by COVID -19, the government has extended the invitation deadlines for this group to a maximum of 10 months.

Change effective 31/03/2020​

The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool. This means Invitations to Apply for Residence are also suspended. At this stage, Malcolm Pacific Immigration does not anticipate selections to resume until sometime after the general election held on 17 October 2020. The last selection from the Skilled Migrant pool took place on 12/03/2020.

Change effective 24/02/2020

Immigration NZ is now prioritising Skilled Migrant Residence applications where the main (principal) applicant meets one of two criteria:

  1. Has employment paying double the median wage which is currently NZD $51 per hour OR NZD $106,800 per annum; OR
  2. Has New Zealand occupational registration and is required to hold valid registration to lawfully carry out their job (e.g. nurses, electricians, teachers etc).


a) The median wage changes from time to time (usually November each year).

b) All other Skilled Migrant residence applications are processed in date order received by Immigration NZ (oldest applications processed first).

Change effective 30/10/2019

The government recently added more occupations that are now to be regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category.

In order to qualify for points, the job must be paying at least the current median wage (or higher for certain occupations) at the time the residence application is lodged (median wage is currently NZD $25.50 per hour or $53,040 annually based on a 40 hour week).


  1. The median wage changes from time to time. (usually November each year).
  2. Other requirements must be met for a job offer to qualify for points including an employer’s compliance with employment and immigration laws, genuine and full-time employment, English language and so on.
  3. Take advice to establish eligibility to apply for residence under Skilled Migrant before proceeding with an Expression of Interest.

Latest occupations now regarded as skilled employment grouped by sector

Community Workers

Child Care Worker

Child or Youth Residential Care Assistant

Family Day Care Worker

Out of School Hours Care Worker

Personal Care Assistant

Teachers' Aide

Refuge Worker

Personal Service Workers

Beauty Therapist

Bungy Jump Master

Civil Celebrant

Diving Instructor (Open Water)

Fishing Guide

Hunting Guide

Mountain or Glacier Guide

Outdoor Adventure Guides

Outdoor Adventure Instructor

Tour Guide

Travel Consultant

Trekking Guide

Whitewater Rafting Guide

Clerical Workers

Bank Worker


Credit or Loans Officer

Import-Export Clerk

Insurance Investigator

Insurance Loss Adjuster

Machinery Operators

Crane, Hoist or Lift Operator

Footwear Production Machine Operator

Hide and Skin Processing Machine Operator

Knitting Machine Operator

Logging Plant Operator

Industrial Spraypainter

Paper and Pulp Mill Operator

Paper Products Machine Operator

Paving Plant Operator

Sawmilling Operator

Sewing Machinist

Textile Dyeing and Finishing Machine Operator

Textile and Footwear Production Machine Operators

Train Driver

Weaving Machine Operator

Waste Water or Water Plant Operator

Yarn Carding and Spinning Machine Operator

Construction Workers

Construction Rigger

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The Green List

From September 2022 people holding job offers in a small number of occupations may apply for residence. Some occupations are a direct pathway to residence and others require a period of two years or longer before applying.

There are qualification and/or occupational registration requirements to meet. Establishing if an overseas qualification matches the NZ equivalent qualification before applying is paramount for success.

Read more here.

16 May 22

Work Visa Categories Closing

The work visa categories set to close are:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa – approval in principle
  • Work to Residence (Talent – Accredited Employer)
  • Work to Residence (Long Term Skills Shortage)
  • Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa (closed October 2019)
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Work Visa.
10 Feb 22

Policy Decision Key Dates in 2022

  • February 13. Fully vaccinated Kiwis plus certain other travellers entering NZ from the rest of the world* can skip MIQ.
  • April 30. The border starts a phased reopen to fully vaccinated foreign nationals.
  • April 30. The Productivity Commission reports back to the government on immigration settings.
  • May 9. Applications open for mandatory Employer Accreditation.

*Excludes high-risk countries.

16 Dec 21