Apply for a Resident Visa under the Skilled Migrant Category

The Skilled Migrant Category is a skill based residence visa policy, providing an opportunity for skilled immigrants to gain permanent residence in New Zealand.

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

Points for settlement indicators

The Skilled Migrant Category, SMC, is based on a points system that factors in multiple elements considered to be employability and settlement indicators.

Points are awarded for qualifications, work experience, age, skilled employment, partner qualifications etc.

Additional settlement indicators include an age limit of 56 years, good English language ability, good health and a good character.

The 3 stages of the SMC process:

Submitting an Expression of interest
Selection from the Pool
Invitation to apply for a resident visa


The Application Process

The resident visa application process under the Skilled Migrant Category is complex. It consists of two main stages, the Expression of Interest and the actual Resident Visa Application.

In some cases, a third stage, an external assessment of the applicant's qualifications, will be necessary. Our Licensed Immigration Advisers will be able to determine, whether this might apply for you.

Some professions require formal registration with their respective professional registration board.

Step 1 - The Expression of Interest, EOI

The first step of the process is to complete an online application, demonstrating an interest in applying for residence in New Zealand.

In your online Expression of Interest, you will claim points for your qualifications, work experience, age etc.

All Expressions of Interest received by Immigration New Zealand will be ranked from highest to lowest points score and placed into a Pool.

Step 2 - Selection from the Pool

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

The number of Expressions of Interest selected from the Pool is determined each time a Selection takes place. It varies every fortnight and is based on the number of immigrants New Zealand is aiming to gain during each financial year. Only the applicants with the highest points scores will be successful and able to move on to the next step of the process.

So how many points will you really need?

The number of points you will need for your Expression of Interest to be selected from the Pool depends on the quality of the competing candidates, who have entered their Expression of Interest at the same time as you.

While the Skilled Migrant Category policy still requires a minimum of 100 points only, Immigration New Zealand has set the actual minimum points score at 160.

This means that you will now need a minimum of 160 points to have a chance for your EOI to be selected.

In practice this points score can only be achieved, if you can claim points for a job offer in New Zealand. An offer of employment will allow you to claim 50-70 additional points and make the deciding difference for the successful outcome of your Expression of Interest stage.

Expressions of Interest that have been successfully selected from the Pool will undergo a preliminary assessment.

Immigration New Zealand will check the credibility of the information provided by you in your Expression of Interest, and only applicants who have successfully passed this stage, will then receive an Invitation to Apply for a Resident Visa.

Step 3 - The Residence Application

At the start of this stage of the application process, your application for a Resident Visa will be formally submitted to Immigration New Zealand.

You will have to include all necessary documentation to provide evidence for the points claims made in your Expression of Interest.  

Once your resident visa application has been accepted and formally lodged, Immigration New Zealand will assess it against Government residence policy:

INZ will check your points eligibility, and 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.

Are you eligible for a Resident Visa under the Skilled Migrant Category?

Find out by using our Self Assessment/Points Calculator or talk to our Job Search Professionals about finding a job that suits your professional background and ask our Licensed Immigration Advisers whether that job will entitle you to 50-70 points for your Expression of Interest: Ask us for a Free Assessment.

The Skilled Migrant Pathway to Residence in New Zealand

There is more to becoming a New Zealand Resident through the Skilled Migrant Category than submitting an Expression of Interest followed by your Residence Visa application!

On your path to becoming a resident you will have to find a job and obtain a work visa, before you obtain your Resident Visa.

See how finding a job is a vital part of your residence process and how our unique Fusion Service will help you achieve your goal of living in New Zealand longterm:

- The Skilled Migrant Pathway to Residence

- Our Fusion Service

More about the SMC:

Please note: If you are planning to run your own business and be self-employed in New Zealand the Skilled Migrant Category policy is not suitable for you.

Find out if one of the Business and Investor visa policies might be right for you by doing a quick Business and Investor Visa eligibility self-assessment, or ask us for a professional assessment of the best visa pathway for you.

Read more about character:

Read more Visa FAQ's:

Which Visa is Right for You?

Read more about the Points System:

Read more about health:

Read more about Critical Workers:

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!