Skilled Migrant.

This article is about Immigration Policy but is not a description of policy.

The "Skilled Migrant Category" links skill shortages in the New Zealand labour market with appropriately trained and experienced migrant applicants. It does this by awarding "points" to education, work experience and the various personal attributes of the applicant and then comparing those "points" against a fortnightly "Pass Mark". The Pass Mark can vary from time to time depending on what annual targets the Government sets; how many applicants have already been approved that year and how many applicants are achieving certain "marks" in the current draw. This so called "SMC" or "Points System" is the most often used route of entry for new migrants. 

To make sure the number of applicants does not exceed the available spaces, there is a preliminary filter called the "Expression of Interest" ("EOI") whereby a fee is paid and key personal data is entered online, without the need for verification and detailed documentation. If that "EOI" comes up to standard, Immigration New Zealand then issues an "Invitation to Apply" ("ITA").


While receiving an "ITA" is normally grounds for celebration, it is by no means the end of the journey. The applicant still has to meet all the small-print requirements and produce documents that validate claims made in the "EOI". In many cases there are misunderstandings when applicants have been "sure they knew what was meant" by certain requirements only to find that Immigration New Zealand's interpretation of words is quite different than their own.


All family members will also be subject to close scrutiny over documents of identity and relationship; while the medical and character backgrounds of everyone associated with the application will be closely examined.

New Zealand job offers go through very close examination to see if they meet high thresholds set by the government. Failure to meet these strict thresholds is a common reason for applications being declined.


An offer of skilled employment is critical to a successful application under this category. Securing a job offer while overseas is close to impossible unless an employer is looking for a set of unique skills not readily available in the New Zealand labour market. Read more about jobs on our Employment page

It has been calculated that Do-it-Yourself applicants who assume or think they are entitled to points waste over $10 million every year in failed applications. It pays to take proper advice.

Read more about changes to Skilled Migrant and the suspension of Expressions of Interests here