Skilled migrant visa changes coming into effect on 28 August 2017
Skilled migrant visa changes that were first announced on 19 April 2017 are now coming into effect on 28 August 2017. This includes changes to the essential skills visa, also implemented on the same day.
These changes affect many aspects of the skilled migrant visa policy, including:
- The way that ‘skilled employment’ and ‘work experience’ are assessed and awarded points.
- The points awarded for work experience, qualifications and age.
- Some points are also being removed:
- Points for employment, work experience and qualifications in identified future growth areas.
- Points for qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage.
- Points for close family in New Zealand.
We understand that this amount of change in one of the most popular visa categories could raise a lot of questions and concerns. This is why we’re going to do two things for you now:
- Answer some of the questions that you’re probably asking yourself.
- Give a summary of the changes.
Afterwards you are more than welcome to call us on +27 (0) 21 202 8200 for a more detailed discussion.
Questions and answers on the skilled migrant visa changes
Is it all bad news for me?
No, not necessarily.
As per the New Zealand government, there will be an impact on some people in lower-paid employment. However, the changes expand the definition of skilled employment to allow some people to gain residence who have previously been unable to claim points for their employment in New Zealand.
How will this be possible?
People who are not currently considered to be in skilled employment because their job is not an ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 or 3 occupation will be able to claim points for their job if they meet the relevant remuneration threshold.
What particular types of applicants benefit from the changes?
The changes to the visa put more focus on:
- Skilled work experience;
- More recognition of skill levels in the 30 – 39 age group; and
- High remuneration levels.
Why is the skilled migrant visa changing?
Immigration New Zealand has said in their statement that the changes have been made to:
‘improve the skill composition of people gaining residence under the Skilled Migrant Category and ensure we attract migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand’.
Has the process for applying for residence under the skilled migrant visa changed?
No, the application process has not changed.
I have already submitted my skilled migrant visa application but it has not yet been finalised. What will happen to my application if it’s not decided until after the changes come into effect?
Your application will not be affected by the changes. Because it was submitted before the changes come into effect, your application will continue to be assessed under the instructions in place at the time you made your application.
Summary of the skilled migrant visa changes
The changes to the skilled migrant visa include:
- The introduction of remuneration thresholds as an additional means of defining skilled employment:
- Jobs at ANZSCO skill levels 1, 2 and 3 must be paid at or above NZ$23.49 per hour. This equates to a salary of NZ$48 859 per year based on a 40 hour week.
- Jobs that are not ANZSCO skill level 1, 2 or 3 must be paid at or above NZ$35.24 per hour. This equates to a salary of NZ$73 299 per year based on a 40 hour week.
- More points available for work experience. However, points will only be awarded for work experience that is skilled.
- Ten (10) points will be awarded for skilled New Zealand work experience of 12 months or more.
- No additional points will be awarded for work experience of two years or more.
- Points for recognised level 9 or 10 post-graduate qualifications (Master’s degrees and Doctorates) will increase to 70 points.
- Points for people aged 30 – 39 years will increase to 30 points.
- Points will only be awarded for partners’ qualifications if the qualifications are either a:
- Bachelor’s level degree or higher; or
- Post-graduate (level 9 or 10) qualification.
- Points will no longer be available for:
- Employment, work experience and qualifications in identified future growth areas.
- Qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage.
- Close family in New Zealand.
- Applicants who meet the health, character, English and selection point requirements BUT who do not have either skilled employment or a higher degree gained in New Zealand, will be invited to apply for a ‘job search visa’ to enable them to find ongoing skilled employment in New Zealand.
- There will be greater flexibility for offshore applicants to travel to New Zealand within the 12 month validity of their ‘job search visa’.