The New Zealand Skilled Migrant Resident Visa Guide

The New Zealand Skilled Migrant Resident Visa Guide

The Skilled Migrant visa is the most well known path to residence of New Zealand. This is the most likely to be approved path that you can take, because the country genuinely ‘needs’ you here. If you are trained and experienced in an industry that is on our long term skills shortage list, and you meet certain conditions this could be the ideal visa to enable you to reside here long term.

Things to Consider Before you Apply:

The process for attaining this visa is a long one, but well worth it. Before you start this process there are some points you should consider, so as not to waste your time or money unnecessarily.

Are you Eligible?

​There are some basic requirements for this visa type. Depending on your skill type and industry, or which of the skills shortage lists your job comes under there may be additional conditions as well.

You must, at the time of application:

  • Be under the age of 56
  • Possess English Language Proficiency
  • Have an offer of skilled employment from an employer paying at or above the median wage (currently NZD 25.50 per hour; or less-skilled jobs paying NZD 38.25 per hour; pay rates subject to annual change)
  • Meet basic health requirements, including providing evidence you (and your family if included) are in good health and of good character
  • Achieve a points score of 160 or above (You can check your points here)

The points system takes these factors into account:

  • Whether you are under 56
  • Whether you are currently working in skilled employment in New Zealand
  • Or if you have a current permanent employment contract for a skilled job in New Zealand
  • If you have a recognised qualification (some qualifications may not meet NZ standards and you may need to complete further study or be supervised for a registration period or they may require a special assessment)
  • If you have skilled work experience (rather than this being a first job in the industry)
  • Whether your partner speaks English to the same level that you do

Check the Long Term skills shortage list regularly, it is updated every 6 months and subject to change.

This visa is not for Self Employed people/Business Owners. Look into the Entrepreneur Resident Visa.

With this visa you can bring your partner and dependent children under the age of 24 with you, however, your partner will need to meet the English and Health requirements that you do. You may be required to show that your dependent children are financially dependant on you and your partner.

Is There Another Visa That is Better Suited to Me?

​It may be that you do not meet all requirements for this visa, or that you can meet the requirements for another visa type faster or with less effort. Here is a list of visas that can lead to residency which you may want to look into, to ensure you have chosen the right visa to suit your circumstances.

Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa

If you have less points or a lower salary this may be your best option. It is a 30 month work visa, but has a path to residency should you stay in skilled employment for at least two years and meet the requirements.

Entrepreneur Resident Visa

For self employed workers, or those running a business here. You will need to have been lawfully self-employed here for over 6 months or run a business for over 2 years within New Zealand to qualify for residence.

Partners Resident Visa

If you are the partner of a New Zealand Citizen or Resident you may qualify for residency based on that partnership. You will need to show long term evidence of a genuine relationship and that you have lived together for 12 months at the time of applying.

There may be other visas that you could qualify for. Give us a call on 0800 800 612 and ask for our recommendations on which visa is best suited to your needs and evidence. We will give you an honest, expert opinion and advice on which visa you are most likely to succeed in.

Are You Likely to Need Help With This Application?

The Skilled Migrant Resident visa requires strict conditions to be met and specific evidence to be provided. It is not a small undertaking. While you can complete the application yourself it is strongly advised to seek the help of an immigration adviser.

If you want help completing the application, and a higher chance of your visa being granted it’s wise to employ the services of a licensed immigration adviser right from the start. They will help you organise everything you need so that you don’t gather unnecessary or unhelpful documentation and waste your time. They will also guide you on what evidence is acceptable to Immigration New Zealand, and what is more likely to be accepted without question or delay. An immigration adviser can give you peace of mind and support throughout this stressful process, where your future is on the line.

Malcolm Pacific Immigration is a New Zealand owned and operated company offering Immigration Adviser services. We have extensive experience and a very high success rate with work and residency visas in New Zealand. Our team of advisers are well trained and pride themselves on being up to date with the very latest changes in immigration policies or requirements. Visa requirements do tend to change slightly each year, and the way visas are processed or prioritised can change as well.

By seeking assistance from a Malcolm Pacific Licensed Immigration Adviser you gain access to our vast knowledge of New Zealand Immigration. We only work on visas for New Zealand, not going in and out of any other country, so our knowledge base is specific to what you need and not spread thin.

You can contact Malcom Pacific Immigration on 0800 800 612 from within New Zealand or +64 9 309 4187 from overseas.

Feel free to pop into one of our offices in Auckland or Wellington for a chat during business hours.

Or read about the Skilled Migrant Visa on our website to learn more before making a decision.

The Application Process

​What you will need to do is thoroughly check that you meet the eligibility criteria and are able to provide the evidence requested before starting the process. Once you are certain that you do, the first step is to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI).

Stage 1: Expression of Interest (EOI)

For this visa you need to be invited to apply. What this means is people must first submit an EOI before they will be asked to fill the actual residence application and have a chance of being granted the visa. The EOI shows that you meet the points requirements and are eligible to apply. They will check that the number of points you have claimed is legitimate.

To submit an EOI you will need to create an online login through Immigration New Zealand.

Selections are chosen every two weeks from the EOI pool, usually those with the highest points will be chosen first but that does not mean you won’t be given a chance to apply. If you have a points score over 160 it is more likely that you will receive an invitation to apply within a month.

Immigration NZ is currently ‘only’ taking submissions for this category over 160 points, that is however subject to change in future. As of now, if you have less points than that you are advised to apply through another visa category to have a chance of success. The Long Term Skills Shortage List Work Visa is the next step down from this one but still has the possibility of residency later on. 

Note: Due to Covid-19 the government has suspended any selections of EOIs. This will be reviewed before the end of March 2021. Take professional advice.

Stage 2: Application

Once you receive an invitation to apply you can then fill in and submit the full application, and provide supporting evidence. Immigration NZ will email the application forms to you with the invitation to apply letter. Please ensure your address is correct and update it with Immigration New Zealand if it changes at any point during your application process.

Bear in mind that some documents sent with your main application may be time sensitive. Things such as police reports or health checks will need to be gained within a certain period of time. If the time between when you submit an EOI and are invited to apply is more than a month you may want to double check that your documents are all still valid to meet requirements.

The Review and Decision Process

The decision making process can take up to 12 months or longer. You may be contacted during this time to provide further evidence or go in for an interview. It is however more likely that an application will simply be declined if incorrect or insufficient evidence is provided. Therefore, you must make sure that what you have provided is exactly what has been asked of you. This is where an Immigration Adviser can prove valuable, to triple check your application before you send it and guide you on what to include.

Your application must be fully completed before sending, they may not give you a second chance to fill something in or provide additional evidence. An error could mean that you have to update and re-submit your form and re-attain any time sensitive documents, as well as paying fees again for your application to be processed.

You can check the status of your application in your personal login page throughout the process.

Once a decision has been reached you will be posted the outcome. If you have not already sent in your passport, you will be asked to post it so the passport can be scanned and the e-visa attached.

Pathway to Citizenship

After gaining residence you will have the right to work and reside in New Zealand indefinitely. After two years you will need to apply for a ‘Permanent Resident Visa’. The main requirement is proving that you have remained in New Zealand (not travelled for extensive periods overseas). If you intend to be outside New Zealand for more than 6 months each year you should get professional advice. You can also choose to apply to extend your current resident visa if you qualify.

After holding a Permanent Resident Visa, you may choose to apply for New Zealand citizenship. You can remain indefinitely in New Zealand on a Permanent Resident Visa if you wish to keep citizenship from another country. A permanent resident has the same rights within New Zealand as a Citizen, with access to public education and healthcare.

In order to gain and travel with a New Zealand Passport you will need to gain Citizenship. To apply for Citizenship you will need to have held a resident visa for 5yrs and lived in New Zealand for the majority of that time. You can travel out of New Zealand for short periods as long as you build up a total of 1350 days in New Zealand, with 240 days minimum in each year here. You also need to be of good character and speak English.

Malcolm Pacific Immigration can help you with your Permanent Residency and Citizenship Applications as well.

What Factors Can Impact the Decision?

  • Incorrect or out of date evidence or information can cause delay or even a refusal
  • Age (56 is the cut off but younger is preferred, so you can contribute skills and tax for longer; likewise highly skilled people over the age limit may have a special pathway to residence)
  • Qualification, your overseas qualification needs to meet New Zealand standards. Some are exempt, but for many (especially outside English speaking countries) you will need to get your certificates  NZQA assessed.
  • Work experience, the length of relevant work experience in the industry will help your case.
  • Being in skilled employment in NZ already. If you already hold a steady job in an industry with a skills shortage that can increase your chances. You will need to show stability, a permanent contract, full time hours and a salary that meets current requirements.
  • Offer of employment from an accredited employer, this is a way in (not subject to the points system)if you are not already employed in a skills shortage list job. You will need a permanent offer, full time hours are preferred, with a salary as required (over $79,560 per year; pay rate changes annually). They will ask for your intended start date (sooner may be better) and whether ‘registration’ is required for your job. Industries such as healthcare, education and law often have a registration process, which you may have to undertake and check whether you are eligible for, or exempt from this.
  • English Language Skills. You are expected to be proficient in English in order to work here long term. Your partner if you are bringing one will also need to prove the same level of English proficiency. Dependent children under the age of 16 will be exempt from proof of language ability. Those 16 and above will still need to prove their English ability. This may be shown by attending an English speaking school or through tests, or where they have lived.

The minimum required levels for each acceptable test type are:

  • IELTS 6.5
  • TOEFL iBT 79
  • PTE Academic 58
  • Cambridge English B2 First (FCE) or B2 First for Schools (FCE for Schools) 176
  • OET Grade B or higher in all four skills (speaking, reading, writing and listening)

Tips to Help Your Visa Application Succeed

We have gathered a range of helpful tips to keep in mind whilst working on your application:

  • Ensure you have filled in the forms correctly, fully, and have attached all required evidence. Triple check everything, it is wise to get at least two others to look over it for you to ensure it’s all there and in order before you are ready to lodge the application.
  • Write clearly, if your handwriting it’s not the best try to type as many parts as you can. Regardless, anything typed will be faster for Immigration Officers to read, and will be preferred. If you have to add supporting letters to explain, character references etc, these are best typed and then signed and dated by the author. Do make sure any evidence is dated and on company letterhead where applicable.
  • Write up a checklist before you start of what is needed (and dates of how long documents stay valid for) and keep it on top of your application folder. Try to store your evidence in the order that is on your list to find it more easily when you need it.
  • Be completely honest. It is possible for Immigration Officers to discover any intentional false information. Even if there is something that may dampen your chances such as an old police record, if you explain it well you will still have a chance to be considered. They do still need your skills.
  • Set a date to post your application in your diary. That way you will have a schedule to keep and can stay focused. This will also help you to get the time-sensitive documents like health and police checks done closer to the time, so they are valid during the application process.
  • Don’t let it consume you, take breaks from worrying about it. Choose to only work on the application on certain days of the week and give yourself enough time to pace it out. It can be a stressful time and stress can cause simple mistakes, your mental health matters too.
  • Work alongside a reputable Licensed  Immigration Adviser to make sure you are on the right track throughout the application process and have a higher chance of a successful outcome.

Using an immigration adviser will boost your chances of success. Read more on how to choose the best immigration adviser in Auckland or the best immigration adviser in Wellington.  

Recent Changes to New Zealand Skilled Migrant Visas (2020-2021)

Visa conditions are subject to change regularly, and often do so on a yearly and as needed basis.

Skills Shortage Lists. You can check the most up-to-date versions here.

Salary increases. The median salary is reviewed every year (usually November)and can impact a variety of visas including this one. If you are applying in 2021 you will need to check the latest salary requirements as it is likely to have gone up slightly.

For the EOI points score the following changes have been made:

Points have been removed and will no longer be given for having close family already in New Zealand. The extra points you could previously get for having a qualification or job in the ‘absolute skills shortage category’ have also been removed.

What’s been added is more points for having skilled work experience relevant to your job. For the age group of 30-39yrs more points are now available than before as well.

From the 27th of July this year (2020) four new occupations were added as acceptable ‘skilled employment’. These are Aged/Disabled carer, Nursing support worker, Driller, and Bicycle Mechanic. They do however have additional rules applying to them. If you are applying under one of these industries make sure you check on the conditions for each of these jobs before you start your application.                                                                 

For a full list of recent changes and all of the new jobs added this year please see our Skilled Migrant Changes page. We update our information pages regularly, what’s there will be the latest changes.

The Impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19)

While we cannot be 100% certain when things will return to normal, we do have some educated guesses. It is encouraging that we are now back at level 1 in the alert system. This means businesses should be able to run as per usual, including government agencies.

We have a strong expectation that an announcement regarding border restrictions will be made after the election (17/10/20), regardless of which party(s) are in government at that time. There is also pressure to allow some forms of immigration back in as soon as possible, in particular the partner and skilled migrant categories, as those are the most needed by New Zealanders. Those two will no doubt be at the top of the priority list when visas reopen.

Due to the Coronavirus crisis, the application time has been extended for some Skilled Migrant Visas. Previously applicants were given a standard time of 4 months from the date of ‘invitation to apply’ to submit their application. That has now been extended to 10 months for those who received an invitation between the 1st of November 2019 and the 15th of April 2020.

The current restrictions relating to Covid-19 are strict. Very few people who are not citizens or permanent residents are being allowed in at this time. All who enter must undergo two weeks in a managed isolation facility and return negative test results before entering the community. The restrictions on who can enter NZ in are expected to change next year, perhaps even before then.

As it stands the pool for EOI for any type of Skilled Migrant visas is not being assessed, no new invitations are being made. The last selection was on the 12th of March 2020. Anyone who applied during that time or afterward will not yet have had their EOI’s assessed. The government will review this before the end of March 2021.

While there is still uncertainty, the Skilled Migrant Resident Visa, along with others will open again. This category is essential to the economy and infrastructure, as well as healthcare and many other industries. New Zealand cannot cope without immigration for any extended period of time. We confidently expect some visa categories, including this one to be opening again soon (although there may be changes to criteria).

Even before applications open again, at Malcolm Pacific Immigration we can still help you prepare for the moment that they do, to get in early before the rush. If you have everything ready before the day they open again there is a good chance you won’t be waiting as long for results as most others. There are a few things that are time sensitive, but the majority of the application can be ready early, and those final documents can be added in at the end before submitting.

We do not mind that new applications will be managed by us over a longer period of time, and being with us early could give you insider knowledge about when specific visas are opening back up again. We will be watching immigration announcements in the news and online closely, as well as contacting Immigration New Zealand directly to stay up to date. We are here, we are still open during usual hours, and we are ready to help so that you can feel fully ready to apply as soon as it’s possible to.

Give us a call today, you won’t regret it. 0800 800 612 from within New Zealand or +64 9 309 4187 from overseas.

Get started with a free assessment today

We are New Zealand’s largest and most experienced team of licensed immigration advisers. Our experts take away the stress and worry of navigating the complicated world of immigration. All you need to do is get in touch. Our team is on standby, ready to help.