Latest news on proposed changes to Skilled Migrant Category

New Skilled Migrant Category policy in force!

The details have now been released, and will come into effect on 28 August. Please contact us if you want to know more and wish to discuss your situation.

At New Zealand Immigration Concepts we have seen many policy changes over the past 22 years. While the immigration regulations have undergone numerous changes, the principle has always and will continue to remain the same:

New Zealand needs skilled migrants from all over the world to fill the existing skill gaps!

The bottom line has always been:  If you have a good professional background with sound qualifications and/or work experience, your chances of migrating to New Zealand are excellent.


The latest News on the proposed Immigration Law changes: 

27July 2017 update:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said feedback during a consultation period prompted a change to lower salary band, from the original plans laid out earlier in the year. 

 Initial plans were to impose a salary band nearing $50,000, for migrants to stay long-term in New Zealand.

The consultation period saw 170 individuals, businesses and industry groups make submissions.

"As a result, the remuneration band for mid-skilled will be 85 per cent of the New Zealand median income, which is currently $41,538 a year, instead of $48,859 as proposed during consultation."


New Zealand businesses welcome these news:

"The revised salary threshold is more realistic for migrant workers to go from a lower-skilled role to a mid-skilled role with training and more experience, and will be more workable in the regions.

"It's also positive that the Government has taken up our calls for greater use of employer accreditation as well as looking into different sector and regional approaches according to their individual needs."

The changes will come into effect on August 28. 

 If you are interested in reading more about this currently highly discussed topic, we recommend this article on, which includes a very informative summary of the latest developments:

Government pumps brake on planned immigration changes, but restrictions still apply.


Details on how the remuneration threshold will be calculated, implications for family members of workers in lower-skilled roles, and how the stand-down period will be applied are soon to be published. 


Previously announced: 

The New Zealand Government may back down on the announced immigration changes due to come into effect in August!

New Zealand employers had pleaded with the government to reconsider the changes.


During an interview this week Prime Minister Bill English stated: 

"The whole purpose here is to get the skills we need in a growing economy that's creating 10,000 jobs a month.

We need people to build the infrastructure, build the houses, to work in our growing export industries, and so our policy will make sure we will get the skills we need."

"We're listening to what's being said. We're well aware of the strong demand for jobs, and we will take that into account when finalising the policy."

In April 2017 major changes were announced intended to help manage "the number and improving the quality of migrants coming to New Zealand".

Public consultation on the changes ended in May but it appears lobbying has continued from business groups around the country.

The Canterbury Mayoral Forum in June requested the Government to reconsider the changes, asking for more than just "Auckland issues" to be considered.

According to Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel the Christchurch region was "completely dependent" on migrant labour filling skills shortages.


Listen to the interview with Prime Minister Bill English on Radio New Zealand, RNZ:



At New Zealand Immigration Concepts we think that this new announcement is exciting and promising! 

New Zealand urgently needs skilled migrants to fill skill shortages in many industries.

The housing market is busy and New Zealand urgently needs thousands of new houses to keep up with the demand. The same applies to the infrastructure that comes with our growing population. 

Businesses are struggling to find skilled people who can satisfy the demand in housing, tourism, health care etc. 

An immigration policy tailored to these needs is urgently required to manage the existing skill shortages.

Please watch this space! We are going to keep you up to date with any new announcements made on this important topic.


Previously announced: 

"The New Zealand Government has announced a package of changes to the Skilled Migrant Category"

The announcement was made on Wednesday, 19 April 2017 and will come into effect on 14 August 2017.

The changes are designed to better manage the influx of migrants and improve the labour market contribution of temporary and permanent migration. 

New Zealand's immigration minister said he was taking a "Kiwis-first approach to immigration".


Focus for residence visas is on renumeration and points allocation

  • Applicants under the Skilled Migrant Category will have to show an annual income of NZ$48,859 (equal to the median income in New Zealand) to qualify as highly skilled migrants. 
  • Jobs that are not classified as "skilled" in terms of the SMC policy will have to guarantee an annual income of NZ$73,299 to qualify. 
  • More points will be available for skilled work experience and some recognised post graduate qualifications.
  • Points for age will increase for applicants aged 30 to 39.
  • Points will no longer be available for qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage, for employment, work experience and qualifications in Identified Future Growth Areas and for close family in New Zealand. 


Essential Skills work visa process to be reviewed

The New Zealand Government is also seeking changes to temporary work visa policies.

The current Essential Skills work visa policy allows migrants aiming for residence to remain in New Zealand on temporary work visas with the expectation to eventually find a pathway to residence. 

Under the new proposed immigration rules migrants who are not recognised as skilled will only be able to stay in New Zealand on work visas for a maximum of three years. They will then need to go through a stand-down period before being eligible for another work visa.  

Workers in seasonal industries will also have their visas shortened to the length of the season, rather than for 12 months. 

Partners and children will no longer be allowed entry automatically and get work and student visas, but will instead enter New Zealand as visitors and will have to meet visa requirements in their own right. 


Industry Feedback

Critics say that many sectors, such as technology and construction suffer from a severe shortage of workers and companies in these areas were recruiting many of their workers from offshore. The new policy will not help with filling those shortages. 

Tightening the rules will make it more difficult for the already short-staffed  trucking industry, where a shortage of more than 500 truck drivers in Auckland alone puts enormous pressure on companies. 

The hospitality industry will also be affected. Despite being well qualified in Hospitality Management, even management positions will no longer meet policy requirements, as income levels do not reach the minimum salary threshold. 

Many positions in the health care sector, traditionally held by large numbers of immigrants, might not be filled due to low income levels in the care giving industry. 


The South Island Contribution Visa

This new policy has been introduced to provide an opportunity for migrants and their families who have been living in the South Island for more than five years to apply for residence. Approximately 1600 work visa holders will be eligible under this policy. 



Immigration and tourism remain at record levels - as New Zealand continues to attract people to either live or holiday here.


From Radio New Zealand, RNZ,  Business News12:17 pm on 21 July 2017 

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If you want to find out more about obtaining the right visa for New Zealand, contact Julia Cooke, Licensed Immigration Adviser at NZIC.

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