New Skilled Migrant Category and Essential Skills policies are now in force!

What has changed and how will the changes affect your chances of immigrating to New Zealand?

Immigration regulations are constantly evolving and at New Zealand Immigration Concepts we have seen many policy changes over the past 22 years. However, the principle has always been and will continue to remain the same:

New Zealand needs skilled migrants from all over the world to fill existing skill gaps.

With the help of the new policies, the New Zealand Government aims to strike the right balance between ensuring that New Zealanders are able to find employment and providing access to skilled migrants who will promote New Zealand's continued economic growth. 


What has changed?

Changes to the Skilled Migrant Category:

This policy provides a pathway to residence for people with skills and experience.

  • Introduction of remuneration thresholds as an additional means of defining skilled employment
  • Requirement for previous work experience to be skilled, with more points available for skilled work experience
  • Increase in points for age between 30 and 39
  • Increase in points for level 9 and 10 post-graduate qualifications
  • Points for employment, work experience and qualifications in identified future growth areas, qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage and close family in New Zealand will be removed.

Changes to the Essential Skills Category:

This policy is a temporary work visa category, designed to allow employers to recruit overseas workers where shortages mean that no suitable New Zealanders are available or trainable.

  • Introducing skill bands based on remuneration and ANZSCO skill level
  • Aligning visa conditions with the skill band assessed
  • Introducing a maximum amount of time visa holders can work in lower-skilled employment
  • Requiring partners and dependent children of Essential Skills visa holders in lower-skilled employment to apply for visas in their own right, rather than on the basis of their relationship to a work visa holder.


What are your chances under the new rules?

In essence: If you have a good professional background with sound qualifications and/or work experience, your chances of migrating to New Zealand could be excellent.

If you would like to know where you stand in the light of the new policies and how you can start your immigration to New Zealand, complete our  Free Assessment form and our Licensed Immigration Advisers will get in touch. 



Read on if you are interested in a bit of background reading:

In April 2017 major changes were announced intended to help manage "the number and improving the quality of migrants coming to New Zealand".

Public consultation on the changes ended in May but it appears lobbying has continued from business groups around the country.

The Canterbury Mayoral Forum in June requested the Government to reconsider the changes, asking for more than just "Auckland issues" to be considered.

According to Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel, the Christchurch region was "completely dependent" on migrant labour filling skills shortages.

During an interview this week Prime Minister Bill English stated: 

"The whole purpose here is to get the skills we need in a growing economy that's creating 10,000 jobs a month. 

We need people to build the infrastructure, build the houses, to work in our growing export industries, and so our policy will make sure we will get the skills we need."

"We're listening to what's being said. We're well aware of the strong demand for jobs, and we will take that into account when finalising the policy."


Listen to the interview with Prime Minister Bill English on Radio New Zealand, RNZ:

"We don't want to handicap ourselves by over-reaching" - Prime Minister Bill English duration 5′ :11″


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 caregiving industry. 


At New Zealand Immigration Concepts we think that this new policy is exciting and promising! 

New Zealand urgently needs skilled migrants to fill skill shortages in many industries.

The housing market is busy and New Zealand urgently needs thousands of new houses to keep up with the demand. The same applies to the infrastructure that comes with our growing population. 

Businesses are struggling to find skilled people who can satisfy the demand in housing, tourism, health care etc. 

An immigration policy tailored to these needs is urgently required to manage the existing skill shortages.

Please watch this space! We are going to keep you up to date with any new announcements made on this important topic.

Read more about character:

Read more Visa FAQ's:

Read more about Visas for New Zealand:

Read more about the Skill Shortage Lists:

Which Visa is Right for You?

Read more about the Points System:

Read more about health:

The Skill Shortage Lists

Do you want to migrate to New Zealand?

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