SMiling woman applying for skilled migrant visa in NZ

Skilled Migrant Visas in NZ.

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 trained and experienced migrant applicants. It does this by awarding "points" to education, work experience, and the personal attributes of the applicant. those "points" are then compared against a fortnightly "Pass Mark".


The Pass Mark can change depending on what annual targets the Government sets. This can be due to 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.


First Steps


To make sure the number of applicants for skilled migrant visas does not exceed the available spaces, there is a preliminary filter called the "Expression of Interest" ("EOI").  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 must 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.


What to be aware of


All family members will also be subject to scrutiny over documents of identity and relationship. 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 very hard to do unless an employer is looking for a set of skills not 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 the Skilled Migrant residence visa and the suspension of Expressions of Interests.