Your Skilled Migrant Visa and the Catch 22

If a visa under the Skilled Migrant Category is your best visa option, you will be faced by the Catch 22 dilemma.

The bottom line is:
To get a Skilled Migrant Visa for New Zealand you need a job.

Whether you want to apply for a SMC Resident Visa or an Essential Skills Work Visa, a New Zealand job offer will be the crucial requirement for your visa application.

But you will find it difficult to get a job offer as long as you do not have a visa.

You find yourself in a classical Catch 22: "A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions."

Find out why your visa will depend on you having a job offer from a New Zealand employer, what that means for you, and how our powerful Service Fusion will help you solve the Catch 22 dilemma.

graphic showing that both work visas (essential skills work visas) and residence visas (skilled migrant residence visas) requiring a job offer

Work Visa Requirements (Essential Skills)

If you want to work in New Zealand, you will need a work visa. In your visa application you have to prove to Immigration New Zealand that all of the following requirements are met:

Skills and Experience

You have the necessary skills and experience to work in the position offered to you



You have NZ registration if it is required to work in your profession in New Zealand


Labour Market Test

Typically, your employer must try to recruit any suitable New Zealanders who are available to do the work, before offering you the job.


NZ Job Offer

You have a full-time job offer from a New Zealand employer

If any of these requirements are not fulfilled, your work visa application will be rejected by Immigration New Zealand.

For you this means that you cannot even lodge your work visa application, unless you have a job offer from a New Zealand employer. If you did so, your application would be rejected by Immigration New Zealand, before a visa officer would even assess your qualifications.

The Challenge: If you do not have a job offer in New Zealand you cannot apply for a work visa.

Residence Visa Requirements (Skilled Migrant Category)

To be eligible for a Skilled Migrant Category Residence Visa you must meet the following minimum requirements:


You must have an acceptable standard of health



You must be of good character



You must have proven English language capabilities



You must be under the age limit of 56 years


Minimum Points

You must have a minimum points score of 100

However, even if you meet all of the above minimum requirements and reach the minimum points score, this will unfortunately not automatically allow you to even start your residence visa process.

The latest selections have shown that the number of Expressions of Interest in the pool on the day of the selection surpassed New Zealand's projected capacity for SMC resident visa applications by far.

As a consequence only EOIs with a points score of 160 and more were selected, and only those candidates were subsequently invited to apply for a resident visa for New Zealand.

You can read more about this on "How many points do you need?"

In any case it is realistic to assume that you will need at least 160 points in order for your Expression of Interest to be successfully selected.

The Challenge: Can you reach, or even better surpass, the selection threshold of 160 points?

Feedback from our licensed immigration advisers

The challenge:

How can you overcome these challenges and obtain your visa?

The answer is quite straight forward: If you can manage to find a skilled job, you will be able to apply for your visa, providing you fulfil all of the further requirements of course.

The reality is that hardly anybody can claim 160 points in their Expression of Interest right at the start.

But as you can see in our points guide, when you do a quick self-assessment of your potential points score, you will be able to claim 50 points for an offer of skilled employment once you have found a job in New Zealand.

If your New Zealand job is located outside of Auckland, your expertise in an area of absolute skills shortage and your salary above average, you can claim up to 60 extra points in addition to those initial 50 points for your job offer.

Gif showing the need for a job offer and animation of EOI selection pool with most successful cases needing a job offer

This means that once you have a job offer in New Zealand you will be able to claim at least 50 points for it, with a potential for a total of up to 110 points for an offer of skilled employment, in addition to the points you can score for your qualification, work experience etc.

If your partner has a job offer, you will get 20 additional points for your Expression of Interest.

It is absolutely realistic to assume that a skilled job in New Zealand will lift your total points score well over the 160 points threshold.

As a result, your chances of your EOI being selected from the pool and able to proceed to the next step of the residence process, the actual resident visa application, become a realistic outcome.

How can you find a job if you do not have a visa?

As you have seen, you cannot obtain a visa unless you have a job, but on the other side you will also find it very difficult to get a job as long as you do not have your visa yet. You are caught in the well known Catch 22 dilemma.

Understand how the lack of a visa affects your job search

The solution:

Visa Assistance and Job Search Service from under one umbrella.

At NZIC we look at the full picture when approaching your migration process.

Our Licensed Immigration Advisers will coordinate your visa application process with your job search and our Job Search Professionals will align your job search with your visa process.

Together our Visa Service and our Job Search Service provide a powerful tool that will help you unravel the Catch 22 dilemma.

Find out how our service fusion can work for you

animation of showing both visa and job search teams combining to provide fusion service, fulfilling the visa requirements quickly

You may also be interested in:

Ready to get started?

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

NZIC was a great help in getting my family and I to New Zealand.  Anna was worth her weight in gold. In the end, I got a great job in a great city.  Carsten and his team were very thorough and helpful when it came time to apply for and get our visas. They are now helping us with our resident visas, and I'm certain that the process will be the same.  I'd recommend them highly.

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.

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