Skilled Migrant Category policy changes announced!

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

The announcement has been 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 as well

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. 

Ask our Licensed Immigration Advisers

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

Ask Julia for a Free Assessment