FAQ: Skilled Migrant Visa of New Zealand

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Do you want to learn more about the Skilled Migrant Visa of New Zealand? Then you’ve come to the right place!

We’re answering all of your burning questions about this visa in this article. If you’re eager to find out if you can apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa by the end of the article, you should book a consultation call with our licensed advisor.

Now on to those frequently asked questions:

1. What is the Skilled Migrant Visa?

The Skilled Migrant Visa is a work visa. This visa enables you to live and work in New Zealand permanently.

You may also study if you wish, but you may not be self-employed. If you want to run your own business, you’ll have to look into the Entrepreneur Visa.

2. What are the Skilled Migrant Visa requirements?

Immigration New Zealand seeks skilled migrants to fill labour gaps in the country’s workforce. For this reason, you’ll have to meet strict requirements that are mainly related to your:

  • Occupation
  • Experience
  • Skills
  • Qualifications

Apart from this, you’ll also have to be under the age of 55 and meet the following criteria:

  • English language requirements associated with the Skilled Migrant Visa
  • New Zealand’s health and character requirements

3. For how long is a skilled migrant visa valid?

The Skilled Migrant Visa is a residency visa and is thus valid indefinitely. You can work, live and study in New Zealand, and include your partner, and dependent children aged 24 and under, in your visa application.

4. What is classed as skilled work in New Zealand?

Immigration New Zealand uses the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupation (ANZSCO) to classify ‘skilled work’.

ANZSCO is used within the skilled migration programs to set guidelines for the skills and work experience visa applicants must meet to work in specific occupations in Australia or New Zealand.

Here’s how it works, as explained by Immigration New Zealand:

When applying for a Skilled Migrant Visa, you must find the closest matching ANZSCO occupation for your current job or job offer. You must also be suitably qualified to do the job, which means your training and experience should match your occupation’s ANZSCO skill level.

INZ will assess your occupation as skilled if it is:

  • Is described in the ANZSCO as a skill level 1, 2 or 3, and it:
    • Mostly matches the ANZSO descriptions of that occupation
    • Meets the pay rate threshold of NZ$ 27 per hour (or equivalent annual salary) or more, or
  • Is described in the ANZSCO as skill level 4 or 5, and it
    • Mostly matches the ANZSO descriptions of that occupation
    • Meets the pay rate threshold of NZ$ 40.50 per hour (or equivalent annual salary) or more, or
  • Has no matching description in the ANZSCO and meets the pay rate threshold of NZ$ 40.50 per hour (or the equivalent annual salary) or more

5. What jobs are in demand in New Zealand?

Jobs that are in high demand in New Zealand are in a few key industries:

  • Healthcare: Nurses, General Practitioners, Specialist Physicians, etc
  • Education: Early Childhood Teachers, Academic Advisers, University Lecturers, etc
  • IT: Developers, ICT Project Managers, ICT Security Specialists, etc
  • Construction: Construction Project Manager, Civil Engineer, Quantity Surveyors, etc

As New Zealand’s needs change, those industries change.

For example, New Zealand focused heavily on healthcare at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Immigration New Zealand even went as far as creating border exceptions specifically for healthcare workers.

6. How do I get a skilled migrant visa for New Zealand?

The first step to getting a Skilled Migrant Visa for New Zealand is meeting the basic criteria:

  • You’re 55 or younger
  • Your occupation appears on one of New Zealand’s Essential Skills in Demand Lists
  • You have a job offer
  • Your points score from your skills assessment is 160 or more
  • You meet the English language requirements
  • You meet New Zealand’s health and character requirements

The second step, once you’ve been assessed as skilled and you scored at least 160 points, you can submit an Expression of Interest (EOI).

If Immigration New Zealand selects your EOI, you’ll get an invitation to apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa.

At this stage, you’ll get to lodge your visa application – and if it’s successful, you’ll get a Skilled Migrant Visa.

7. What are New Zealand’s Essential Skills in Demand Lists?

New Zealand has three Essential Skills in Demand Lists. These lists capture all the highly-skilled occupations for which there are a shortage of local skilled workers.

  • Long Term Skills Shortage List (LTSSL)

The Long Term Skills Shortage List identifies occupations with a sustained and ongoing shortage of highly skilled workers throughout New Zealand. In other words, your occupation is in demand not just now but also for the foreseeable future.

  • Regional Skill Shortage List (RSSL)

The Regional Skilled Shortage List (RSSL) identifies 15 regions with occupations with an immediate shortage of skilled workers, which gives migrants a better idea about opportunities in regional areas.

  • Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List (CISSL)

The Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List also contains immediate short-term skills shortages, but these shortages are specific to the construction industry.

You can only move on to the next step of the process if you meet all of these requirements – submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI). If your EOI is selected from the pool by INZ, you’ll get an invitation to apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa.

8. How many points do I need to apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa?

You’ll need at least 160 points to submit an Expression of Interest. Immigration New Zealand only invites EOIs with 160 points or more to apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa.

What if I can’t score 160 points?

You might have to consider another work visa if you cannot score 160 points or more in your skills assessment. You could also explore other visas that allow you to live in New Zealand, such as the Entrepreneur or Investor visas.

How can I increase my points score?

The best way to score more points is with a job offer. As explained earlier, it’s near impossible to achieve 160 points or more in your skills assessment without a job offer.

However, it is best to speak with a licensed immigration advisor regarding your points. That is the best way to get an accurate points score.

9. What is an Expression of Interest?

Your Expression of Interest (EOI) is how you notify Immigration New Zealand of your desire to apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa.

Your EOI will contain information related to the criteria of the Skilled Migrant Visa, which means your:

  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Skills
  • Experience
  • Qualifications
  • Health
  • English language ability
  • Character

INZ will review all EOIs in the pool and select the EOIs it feels are the best candidates for immigration to New Zealand. Remember that you’re applying under a skilled category, so competition is fierce!

How long does an EOI stay in the pool?

Your Expression of Interest will stay in the EOI pool for six months. You’ll have to reapply if INZ does not select your EOI during this timeframe.

However, if your EOI is selected, you’ll get an invitation to apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa.

10. How long does it take to get a skilled migrant visa for New Zealand?

Immigration New Zealand publishes how long it takes them to process applications on their website.

Currently (March 2022), INZ completes 50% of applications within 26 months, while it completes 75% and 90% of applications within 28 and 31 months.

Your immigration advisor should also be able to give you a timeframe for the entire process.

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