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.

Live, work, study in New Zealand, indefinitely.

A resident visa under the Skilled Migrant Category will allow you to live, work and study in New Zealand indefinitely, and it 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.

Our Fusion Service will provide you with the support you will need to successfully complete this process.
be 56 years or under


graphic of employer and employees


be 56 years or under


image representing studying


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

The 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 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.

"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."

Find out how NZIC can help you navigate the pathway to becoming a skilled migrant under the SMC policy.

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

Stage 1: Expression of Interest (EOI)

The Expression of Interest is an online process.
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 currently 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.

Stage 2: Residence Application

All your documents and supporting evidence are submitted.
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.  

You will need a job in New Zealand:

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.

Most migrants will depend on finding a job in New Zealand to reach the 160 points threshold.

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

Again you are facing the Catch 22 dilemma: you need a job to apply for a visa - a job offer is a vital component of your immigration process.

You will need a work visa:

Once you have found a job, your New Zealand employer will expect you to be available to start working as soon as possible.

Your actual resident visa process will probably be in its very early stages at this point and you will therefore need to apply for a work visa to bridge the time until you will have obtained your resident visa.

A work visa will give you the legal right to start working in your new job while you are waiting for your residence process to be completed.  

Our Fusion service - a holistic approach to your migration journey

How our Licensed Immigration Advisers and Job Search Professionals navigate this complex process

skilled migrant resident visa


You must prove your identity

You must be in good health

  • You must have a chest x-ray and a medical examination as proof of your good health.

    • You don’t need to have an x-ray or medical examination until you’re invited to apply for residence.


  • You must be 55 years or under when you apply for residence.

    • If you’re invited to apply for residence, we’ll use the documents you provide as proof of your identity to confirm your age.

Qualification points

  • To claim points for your qualification,  it must be a recognised qualification. A qualification can be recognised if:

    • It is on the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment; or
    • It has been assessed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA); or
    • It has been assessed by a New Zealand registration authority at the same level as a qualification on the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment as part of an application for New Zealand occupational registration; or
    • It is a Washington Accord or Sydney Accord accredited undergraduate degree.

EOI Requirements

  • This visa requires an Expression of Interest

  • EOI's need to claim at least 100 points to enter the Expression of Interest pool. Working with both our job search team and immigration advisers will help you get the most points.

You must be of good character

  • If you are 17 or over, you must provide a police certificate from:

    • your country of citizenship

    • any other country where you have spent 12 months or more over the last 10 years, even if you did not spend that 12 months all in one visit.

  • You don’t need to provide any Police Certificates until you’re invited to apply for residence.

You must be able to speak English

  • You must be able to speak English. Test results must be no older than 2 years.

  • You can show us you speak English by either providing:

    • an acceptable English language test result
    • evidence you have an English-speaking background, by being a citizen of Canada, Ireland, the U.K, or the U.S.A.
    • evidence you are a competent user of English through qualification, such as a comparable bachelor or postgraduate degree gained in Australia, NZ, Ireland, the U.K or the U.S.A.

You must have skilled employment

  • Your current employment or offer of employment must be skilled.

  • If invited to apply for residence, you must provide evidence of your skilled employment, including having the necessary work experience, qualifications and occupational registration.

Work experience points

Family must meet requirements

  • If bringing family, your partner and dependant children will also need to meet requirements. You must provide evidence:

    • of your relationship with your partner and dependent children, like a marriage certificate and birth certificates
    • that your partner and dependent children meet the identity, character, health and English language requirements for this visa.
    • if any of your immediate family members hold New Zealand temporary entry visas based on their relationship with you, they must be included in your residence application.
    • If your partner and dependent children 16 and over do not speak English, they can learn in New Zealand. You will have to pay for English language classes before your visa is granted.

Read more about ...

Ready to get started?

Base your move on solid grounds: Ask us for a Free Assessment first!
south african flag symbol

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
USA flag symbol

“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.”

indonesian flag symbol

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..!

german flag symbol

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.