New Zealand has announced a new and improved Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) to attract highly educated and skilled candidates.
The new SMC is designed to support New Zealand’s economic growth by attracting individuals who can fill medium to long term skill needs in the country.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) described the new SMC as a faster pathway to permanent residency in the country, with applications set to be processed within two months.
The Skilled Migrant Category was New Zealand’s main permanent residence pathway for skilled migrants before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.
Expressions of Interest (EOIs) were suspended in April 2020, and after more than two years of standstill the SMC reopened in November 2021 as an interim measure.
Now the SMC has been relaunched at full capacity, with improvements such as simplified skills assessment criterion for skilled applicants.
One of the main updates to the new SMC is that there will be no cap on the number of skilled migrants who can get approved for New Zealand PR each year.
This no-cap rule will come into effect from 9 October 2023, with final Expression of Interest (EOI) selections under the existing category on 16 August 2023.
Other eligibility criteria to qualify for permanent residence in New Zealand under the new SMC include:
- Being 55 years or younger at the time of application;
- Meeting good health and character requirements;
- Having an acceptable level of English proficiency; and
- Having skilled employment with an accredited employer.
Applicants’ employment will be considered skilled if it is:
- ANZSCO level 1-3 with a median hourly wage ($29.66); or
- ANZSCO level 4-5 with a 1.5x median hourly wage ($44.49).
Moreover, applicants can claim six eligibility points. These points can be made up of:
- Between three to six points for:
- Occupational registration; or
- A recognised qualification; or
- Meeting specific income instructions.
- A further three points for skilled work experience in New Zealand.
Applicants who are set to benefit most from this new SMC include PhD holders, individuals with occupational registration requiring six years of training or high hourly income earners ($88.98), as they can secure the six points without needing to spend time working in the country to satisfy the skilled employment requirement.
Applicants must submit their Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for the new SMC before 15 August 2023.