Skilled Migrant Visa Changes Coming in October 2023
On 21 June 2023, New Zealand’s Minister of Immigration announced four upcoming changes to the Skilled Migrant Visa. These changes come into effect on 9 October 2023.
1. Simplified points system
The Skilled Migrant Visa is points-based. Under the current settings, migrants must score 100 points or more to lodge an Expression of Interest, and only migrants with at least 180 points who also meet all other requirements are selected to receive invitations to apply.
Migrants can claim points for:
- Their age
- Skilled employment in New Zealand
- Recognised qualifications
- Skilled work experience
- Their partner’s recognised qualification and/or skilled employment in New Zealand
Under the new settings, the points system is simplified and sets a clear skills threshold for residency.
From October, migrants must get 6 points to apply for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa. Migrants will be able to claim points from:
- One of three skill indicators:
- New Zealand occupational registration, or
- Qualification (Bachelor’s degree or higher), or
- Income from a job or job offer that’s at least 1.5 times New Zealand’s median wage.
- Skilled work in New Zealand
The following conditions will apply to how migrants can claim points:
- Migrants can only claim points from one of the three skill indicators.
- Migrants can claim one point for each year of skilled work in New Zealand, but only up to a maximum of 3 points.
- Migrants can combine points claimed from skilled work in New Zealand with points from one of the skill indicators.
Please also note the following:
- Migrants can use their occupational registration to claim points if it is on Immigration New Zealand’s list of eligible New Zealand occupational registrations.
- Migrants who want to use their skilled work experience in New Zealand to claim further points can only use experience they gained after getting their occupational registration.
- Migrants with qualifications from outside of New Zealand may need to get their qualifications assessed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).
- Migrants with non-degree qualifications at NZQF Level 7 or below can no longer claim points under the new points system.
- The income skill indicator will replace the Highly Paid Residence Visa that was announced in 2022, meaning highly paid migrants will apply for the new Skilled Migrant Visa instead.
Summary of points system changes:
|Score 100 points or more to submit an Expression of Interest, and 180 points or more to receive an invitation to apply
|Score 6 points
|Claim points for:
– Skilled Employment in New Zealand
– Recognised Qualifications
– Skilled Work Experience
– Partner’s Recognised Qualifications and/or Skilled Employment in New Zealand
|Claim points for:
– One of three skill indicators: New Zealand occupational registration, Qualification, Income
– Skilled work in New Zealand
2. Skilled job or job offer requirements
Under the current system, Skilled Migrant Visa applicants must have skilled employment or a job offer for skilled employment. This employment or job offer can be from any New Zealand employer.
From October, the skilled job or job offer must be from an accredited New Zealand employer. To be considered skilled employment, the job or job offer must be:
- At least 30 hours a week
- Either in an ANZSCO Level 1 to 3 occupation and paid at or above the median wage, or in an ANZSCO Level 4 to 5 occupation and paid at or 1.5 times above the median wage
- On a permanent contract or fixed-term contract for at least 12 months
Summary of employment change:
|Skilled job or offer of skilled job from any New Zealand employer
|Skilled job or offer of skilled job from an accredited New Zealand employer
3. No limit on the number of migrants who can get New Zealand residence
From October 2023, there won’t be a limit on the number of people who can get New Zealand residency under the Skilled Migrant Visa category. All migrants who meet the visa’s requirements and whose visa applications are accepted will obtain New Zealand residence.
4. A new Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa
Immigration New Zealand will grant a Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa to Skilled Migrant Visa applicants whose current temporary visa expires while Immigration New Zealand processes their application.
The Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa will enable visa holders to stay in New Zealand while their Skilled Migrant Visa application is processed. Migrants with Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visas will be able to travel in and out of New Zealand.
Further, any conditions that apply to the current visa will apply to the Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa, and Skilled Migrant Category Interim visa holders won’t be able to apply for another temporary visa.
The Skilled Migrant Category Interim will expire the soonest of:
- 24 months after its start date
- The date of residence approval
- The declining or withdrawing of the residence application, two months after Immigration New Zealand decided on the residence application.
Immigration New Zealand has stipulated that migrants who apply for the new Skilled Migrant Visa can also apply for an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) to stay in New Zealand.
Some migrants might prefer this route as it offers more certainty on how long they’ll be able to stay in New Zealand while waiting on the outcome of their visa application.
Some requirements aren’t changing
While the Skilled Migrant Visa is undergoing a lot of change in October, some requirements are remaining the same. Migrants must still:
- Be 55 or younger to apply for a Skilled Migrant visa
- Meet English language requirements
- Meet New Zealand’s health and character requirements
From 9 October 2023, the Skilled Migrant Visa will have a simplified points system. Under this system, migrants must get at least 6 points to apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa.
The points system will award points for New Zealand occupational registration, an eligible qualification, income from a job or job offer, and skilled work in New Zealand. However, migrants can only claim points for one of the first categories. The points for the chosen category can be combined with points for skilled work, though.
Furthermore, the job or job offer must be from an accredited New Zealand employer. Migrants who hold a visa at the time of applying for the new Skilled Migrant Visa will get a Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa when their visa expired. Migrants can also apply for an Accredited Employer Work Visa instead to remain on a valid work visa in New Zealand.
Lastly, there won’t be a limit on the number of migrants who can get New Zealand residency. Considering this, please feel free to reach out to us closer to October to find out if you meet the requirements. While Immigration New Zealand isn’t setting a limit, all applicants must still meet the eligibility criteria.