Pathways to Residence for Skilled Migrants

Move to New Zealand and live here indefinitely.

There are now 3 main pathways to residence for skilled migrants to New Zealand:

  • The Skilled Migrant Category, which recognises individuals’ skills
  • The new Green List residence pathways for eligible migrants in specified highly skilled, hard-to-fill occupations
  • The new Highly Paid Residence Visa for migrants earning at least twice the median wage

All these pathways require you to have relevant New Zealand employment in place.

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The Skilled Migrant Category pathway

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

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.

The SMC pathway to residence formally consists of two main stages:

  • The Expression of Interest
  • 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.

In practice, the process of becoming a permanent resident under the SMC policy is a lot more complicated than it might appear at first glance.

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-seeker 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."
A.F (Canada)

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.

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.  

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.

Find out about our Fusion Service.

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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.