November 7, 2022

Skilled Migrants Workers – change on the way!

The SMC closed to new residence applications in April 2020 when NZ shut the border. The category has just reopened but sweeping changes are on the horizon
Skilled Migrants Workers – change on the way!

The Skilled Migrant Category (sometime called the SMC or points system) closed to new residence applications in April 2020 when NZ closed the border. The category has just reopened but sweeping changes are on the horizon.

People can lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) claiming 160 points or more until 8 November 2022. On 9 November Immigration NZ intends to select all EOIs at 160+points and will then start issuing Invitations to Apply for Residence. 

After the first selection on 9 November the “pass mark” then rises to 180 points. It is extremely difficult to reach 180 points without a skilled job offer and employment outside of Auckland, recognised qualifications, years of work experience and even extra points from a partner. We expect the move to 180 points will dramatically slow down the number of EOIs that are lodged.

The government has launched a consultation process asking for feedback on proposed changes to this category. If these changes go through as proposed, the number of people eligible for residence under SMC will significantly reduce. 

The main points are:

- Limiting Accredited Employer Work Visas to a maximum of 3 years unless a person is eligible for residence. People who are not eligible for residence will be required to leave NZ and cannot return for at least 12 months.

- A new point system. Intended to be “simplified” when compared to the current points test but there are fishhooks in the proposals that will frustrate the skilled people NZ desperately needs.

- Many people will need to complete one to three years working in NZ on a temporary work visa before becoming eligible to apply for residence. We expect this will be a handbrake for attracting skilled people to NZ. People cannot buy homes or get children into tertiary education as domestic students unless they have become residents.

- Removal of the cap on the number of people approved under this category. At first glance this looks like good news but the high bar to reach the “approval” points pass mark means less people are approved than in the previous years.

- People can apply direct for residence. The EOI step (and cost) is removed – this is cause for celebration!  

Attracting skilled workers to NZ will only get harder if these changes are adopted. People are reluctant to move to NZ if there is not an immediate pathway to residence or they need to wait years before they can apply.

Any of your team working in skilled employment should find out sooner rather than later if they are eligible for residence.

Get in touch with our team for a free consultation with one of our experts to discuss eligibility.


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