The Skilled Migrant Pathway to Residence

The Skilled Migrant Category is the most popular visa pathway to residence in New Zealand for migrants and their families.

Move to New Zealand and live here indefinitely.

A resident visa under the Skilled Migrant Category will allow you to live, work and study in New Zealand indefinitely and you can include your partner and your dependent children aged 24 and under.

This visa policy is based on a points system that factors in multiple elements considered to be employability and settlement indicators.

Applicants submit an online Expression of Interest to start the process of becoming a New Zealand resident.

A job offer is usually required to meet the points threshold and to proceed to the next step of the visa application process, the actual Resident Visa Application.

Once you are a permanent resident of New Zealand you will be able to move between jobs and are free to choose any work you like.

Our Fusion Service will provide you with the support you will need to successfully complete this process.
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Do you want to become a permanent resident in New Zealand?

The pathway to permanent residence under the Skilled Migrant Category is complex.

The SMC resident visa application process formally consists of two main stages:

  • the Expression of Interest and
  • the actual Residence Visa Application.

In some cases an external assessment of the applicant's qualifications by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, NZQA, will be necessary as well, and for certain professions registration with the professional body in charge might be required.

However, in practice the process of becoming a permanent resident under the SMC policy is a lot more complicated than that.

At NZIC we can help you navigate the pathway to becoming a skilled migrant under the SMC policy.

"NZIC guided me all the way through getting my first work visa to permanent residency. Their job seeking support was key when I first arrived in NZ, communication was always easy and clear. I'm very thankful for their help and definitely recommend their services."

The Residence Visa Application Process under the Skilled Migrant Category policy:

Stage 1: Expression of Interest (EOI)


In your online Expression of Interest you will claim points for your qualifications, work experience, age etc. All Expressions of Interest received will be ranked from highest to lowest points and placed into a Pool.

Every fortnight Immigration New Zealand selects the Expressions of Interest with the highest point scores from the Pool. This process is called Selection.

While the SMC policy states that the minimum requirement for submitting an EOI is at 100 points, the points score that is actually necessary for an Expression of Interest to be selected from the Pool has been set at 160.

This means that all Expressions of Interest with a points score of 160 or more will automatically be selected.

Expressions of Interest that have been successfully selected from the Pool will undergo a preliminary assessment, where Immigration New Zealand will check the credibility of the information provided by you in your EOI.

Only applicants who have successfully passed this stage, will then receive an Invitation to Apply for a Resident Visa and can proceed to the next stage of the residence application process.

Please note that all Selections have currently been deferred due to the Covid pandemic. We will update our website as soon as any news are available.

Our advice: You can still submit your Expression of Interest to the pool. While it is not certain how current EOIs will be processed by Immigration New Zealand, we still think that your advantage of being in the pool outweighs the risk of your EOI being rejected.

Stage 2: Residence Application


At the start of this second stage of the application process, your application for a Resident Visa will be submitted to Immigration New Zealand, including all documents proving the point claims made in the Expression of Interest.

Once your resident visa application has been lodged, Immigration New Zealand will assess it against Government residence policy. They will also look at your potential to settle successfully and make a real contribution to New Zealand's social and economic development.

The assessment against settlement and contribution requirements will take into consideration the application as a whole, including information gained at interview, if an interview is conducted.

Depending on how well you are able to demonstrate your ability or potential to successfully settle in New Zealand, your application may be approved and you will be granted a Resident Visa, or you may instead be granted a Work Visa, which will enable you to establish yourself in skilled employment in New Zealand, or your application may be declined.  

In short, to become a Permanent Resident in New Zealand:

You will need a job, a work visa and a resident visa,  
+ you will also have to overcome the Catch 22 dilemma.

How the process to become a resident works in practice

In practice several further steps will be required before you can reach your goal of becoming a permanent resident in New Zealand.

Obtaining a job offer in New Zealand will be a vital component of your immigration process, and you will most likely also have to apply for a work visa on your pathway to residence under the Skilled Migrant Category.

Again you will face the Catch 22 dilemma.

You will need a job in New Zealand:

Most migrants need a job offer for their Expression of Interest to be successful.

Unless you can claim at least 160 points in your EOI, you will not be able to move to the next stage of your residence process, your Resident Visa Application.

A job offer will entitle you to 50-110 points for your Expression on Interest and lift you over the minimum points mark.

The Catch 22 dilemma:

When looking for the job that will give you those important points for your EOI, you will come across the Catch 22 job search wall once again: a job offer is a vital component of your immigration process, but it is difficult to get a job offer as long as you do not have a visa yet.

You will need a work visa:

Once you have found a job, your New Zealand employer will expect you to start working as soon as possible.
You need a work visa. It will give you the legal right to start working in your new job while you are waiting for your residence process to be completed.

The Solution: Our Fusion Service - A Holistic Approach to your Migration Journey

Our Licensed Immigration Advisers and Job Search Professionals will manage this complex process together by working with you on all levels, the visa process and your job hunt.

How our Licensed Immigration Advisers and Job Search Professionals will manage your pathway to residence for you:

Our team of Licensed Immigration Advisers and Job Search Professionals will work hand in hand, aligning your visa process with your job hunt and taking into account your personal timing for your arrival in New Zealand. We will take care of the whole process for you, from start to finish.


Our Fusion Service Immigration Strategy:

Our Fusion Service Immigration Strategy will cover your entire pathway to residence.

It will include your work visa application and your resident visa application, as well as a comprehensive job search strategy.

Approaching the Catch 22 dilemma will be an integral component of your Fusion Service Immigration Strategy.

Our tip: Get it right, right from the start. Avoid expensive oversights. Your strategy will be your guideline for the coming months, covering all of the necessary steps on this complex pathway. We will refer back to it throughout the process to ensure that you will stay on track with making the desired progress towards your goal of becoming a New Zealand resident.


Documents and Guidelines:

Meticulous preparation will ensure that all necessary paperwork is complete and all documents are available in the required format.

In order to optimise your visa process and work for you as efficiently as possible, we will collate and prepare all necessary documentation for your visa application right at the beginning of your migration journey.

A lot of this work can be done before you arrive in New Zealand, and we recommend that you commence working with our team well ahead of your arrival in New Zealand.  
This will put us in a position where we are able to submit your visa application to Immigration New Zealand as soon as you fulfil all visa eligibility requirements.

Our advice to you: Your New Zealand employer will expect you to be available to start working with them as soon as possible. To achieve this, it is important to be document ready and avoid any delays caused by queries coming back from INZ, the visa authority.


Your Job Hunt in NZ:

Most migrants will need to be able to claim points for skilled employment in New Zealand in their EOI in order to reach the current points threshold of 160.

The consequence of this points requirement is that you will not be able to proceed with your residence application unless you have found a job.

Our Job Search Program is designed to prepare you for your job hunt and, following that, actively support you throughout your entire job search.

An important component of your job hunt:
Your Job Search Professional will not only actively work with you on finding a job, but also liaise closely with your Licensed Immigration Adviser to ensure that you will only apply for positions that will meet complex visa requirements.

Employer Liaising:
Working with a Licensed Immigration Adviser during your job search will reduce potential employer resistance to employ you as long as you do not have a visa yet.

While our Job Search Professionals will support you with finding a job that suits your professional background, our Licensed Immigration Advisers will support your job hunt by offering to assist your potential New Zealand employer with the necessary work visa requirements.

Your Licensed Immigration Adviser will endorse your visa eligibility and communicate with potential employers to discuss visa requirements, including advice on Labour Market Testing.

Our advice: By using our Fusion Service, you will vastly improve your chances of finding a job and consequently of moving on to the next step of your immigration process.


Work Visa:

Once the job offer is attained, the employer will expect you to start working as soon as possible.

Your residence application will take several months to complete, but at this stage we will have all documentation in place to apply for a temporary work visa for you, to put you in a position where you will be eligible to work in New Zealand while the residence process is in progress.

Our Licensed Immigration Advisers will support your employer with the formalities necessary from their side, including advising them on Labour Market Testing.

By the end of this step you will hold a Work Visa for New Zealand.

You will be able to start living and working in New Zealand with your partner and family.


Expression of Interest:

You can now claim 50 to 110 points for your New Zealand job in your Expression of Interest and are ready to continue on your pathway to permanent residence.

In line with your immigration strategy your Licensed Immigration Adviser is now confident that you will reach the necessary points score for your Expression of Interest, and have a realistic chance for your EOI to be selected.  

We will submit your Expression of Interest, EOI.

A successful outcome of this step can be expected within two weeks after submission: Your Expression of Interest will be selected!

Please note: The points system of the Skilled Migrant Category is more complicated than it might appear at first glance and far reaching errors occur when it comes to establishing whether qualifications, work experience and job offers really match up and qualify for the necessary points.

Our advice: Do not to submit an EOI until you can be absolutely confident that it will be selected in the subsequent selection. Doing so might lead to disappointment and frustration if it will eventually be removed from the pool.

Check our Points Guide for an initial assessment and then ask us for a Free Assessment of your chances to confirm that you will qualify.


The Verification Process:

Once your EOI has been selected from the pool, Immigration New Zealand undertakes a first verification of the points claimed by you in your EOI.

Any inconsistencies with your points claims, i.e. points claimed for non-relevant work experience or lack of qualification recognition, will result in queries from Immigration New Zealand and will then have to be rectified.

If you accidentally claim more points than you are actually entitled to, your migration process will come to an early end. It is essential to check your points eligibility well ahead of submitting your EOI to avoid being rejected at this stage of the process.

Any setback will throw you back many month, as you will have to submit a new Expression of Interest and start your migration process again from the beginning.

Please note: Claiming too many points in your EOI is just as detrimental to your residence process as not reaching the 160 points mark.

Our advice is very clear: Ask our Licensed Immigration Adviser to double check that your points claim is correct, before submitting your Expression of Interest.


Your Residence Visa Process:

If Immigration New Zealand can be convinced that you are eligible for the points claimed in your Expression of Interest, you will receive your Invitation to Apply for Residence. You can finally apply for your Permanent Resident Visa!

All your documents and other supporting evidence are in place well ahead of time, and ready to be submitted to Immigration New Zealand to provide the necessary evidence for all points claimed in your Expression of Interest.

Your Licensed Immigration Adviser will complete your residence application, ensure that all formalities are observed, and submit your application to Immigration New Zealand for you and all family members included.

Your Licensed Immigration Adviser will liaise with Immigration New Zealand on your behalf and take care of any queries and correspondence for you.  

On approval of your application, your residence visa is granted!



You are now the holder of a Permanent Resident Visa for New Zealand!
You have made it through this long and multi-layered process of becoming a permanent resident!

Getting here was a huge effort and we congratulate you on staying with it and not giving up!

We hope that our support has helped you reaching your goal of living in New Zealand, and that you will enjoy our beautiful country as much as we do!

Please note that all Selections have currently been deferred due to the Covid pandemic. We will update our website as soon as any news are available.

Our advice to you:

We can still submit your Expression of Interest to the pool.

While it is not entirely certain at this stage how current EOIs will be processed by Immigration New Zealand, we still think that the advantage of your EOI being in the pool outweighs the risk of your EOI being rejected if the SMC policy undergoes any potential changes.

There are now signs that New Zealand is moving forward with Skilled Migrant visa processes.

Please talk to our Immigration Advisers about the best way for you to apply for your residence visa. Contact them by asking us for a
Free Assessment of your chances.

You may also be interested in:

Do you want to migrate to New Zealand?

Base your move on solid grounds: Ask us for a Free Assessment first!
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Very pleased and satisfied with the service we received from NZIC. They assisted me and my family from start to finish. Always willing to assist, and communicated our progress every step of the way. With their assistance we managed to obtain permanent resident visa status.

South Africa
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“In contrast to another Immigration consultancy that we contacted, your company offered a free webinar and an assessment, warm, approachable staff that communicates openly with potential customers. I found your website and it was very detailed and informative. I understand that your company is a fee for services provider, but that has not been conveyed as a prerequisite during the decision making process.”

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At first, Maj kindly explained the whole process and what to expect. I was coached and introduced to New Zealand job market by their Job Search team, and getting assistance until I got a job in the country. The Visa team would also follow me up on my pending documents, so I never felt left out. Truly recommended for those seeking out an option to live in New Zealand. Big thanks from me and my whole family for things NZIC did for us..!

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NZIC helped me in my way to get a Visa and job search. They were always available to talk to and were open to all sorts of questions. No matter how random they were. Very friendly staff. And even when they had changes in employee and advisors, they always stayed professional and up to date. I can only say good things and recommend them highly.