New Zealand Skilled Migrant Visas: A Common Sense Guide

New Zealand Skilled Migrant Visas: A Common Sense Guide

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The Skilled Migrant Visa allows skilled migrants to apply for permanent residency in New Zealand. It is operated by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) under the Immigration Act (of 2009) and seeks to recruit 26,000 skilled migrants a year.

The Skilled Migrant Visa is for people with experience and qualifications in the professions New Zealand needs. These are professions which are part of the government’s  Long Term Skills Shortage List. Generally, if you are well skilled in an area where New Zealand has a skills shortage and you have a standard qualification similar to the ones accepted by employers in New Zealand, you can explore fantastic career opportunities in the country.

In addition to having the necessary credentials and expertise, you must be under the age of 55 and already have a job offer in New Zealand. You must meet the basic New Zealand immigration requirements which cover the state of your health, level of proficiency in English and whether you are of good character, which can be evidenced by a recent police report and character references.

The Skilled Migrant Visa category is issued on a point-based scheme. The approval process is distinct from many other types of visas. When you and your family are in need of permanent residency in New Zealand, the skilled migrant category would be the right visa for you, as long you can meet all the requirements.

This visa is not meant for individuals who are self-employed. Should you want to work in your own company, you should apply for an Entrepreneur Resident Visa instead.

To register, an Expression of Interest (EOI) must first be submitted. Points are awarded for work experience, employability, capacity-building factors, skilled employment, age and qualifications. If the applicant is able to obtain 160 points and meets the criteria for health, character and English, he/she may lodge an EOI in the skilled migrant pool.

People can tend to miscalculate extra points they do not qualify for or wrongly classify their jobs and job experience. Unfortunately, this can hamper your chances of getting a visa. To protect against such errors, you should consider using an expert.

If you would like a professional Immigration Advisor to assess whether you have enough points to qualify for a Residence Visa, we have found that Malcolm Pacific is a good company to work through.

You can call them on 0800 800 612 or through their website

The Main Requirements for a Skilled Migrant Visa:

  • Your occupation, experience, qualifications, and expertise must be assessed as skilled.
  • You must be offered a skilled job or be employed in a currently skilled job in New Zealand.
  • You must meet the requirements for good character in New Zealand.
  • You and everyone associated with you must comply with certain health requirements.
  • You have to be 55 or under.
  • You must meet the basic requirements of English proficiency.

Am I Guaranteed to be Picked at 160 points?

Every two weeks, Immigration New Zealand selects EOIs with at least 160 points. If the immigration officer checking your file (preliminary verification) is pleased with your statements, you will be invited to apply for residency. You must then submit relevant documents (transcripts, qualifications, English certificates, work credentials). It may take several months for your file to be reviewed and, during this time, you may be asked to comment on the issues raised regarding your application. As immigration advisors, we will work on your behalf to address any issues and to respond to INZ with any questions they may have during the process. 

Invitation to Apply

At this time, you are expected to make a formal application for residence and will then have 4 months to gather and apply with the documents supporting the points you asserted in your EOI. Please note that this period cannot be extended, so try to plan ahead of time.

Once the documents have been collected, you will send them to Immigration New Zealand along with an application fee of $2470 (2020 current fees). Within three months of the application, an immigration officer will be assigned to evaluate it. Authentication begins after the case is assigned.

The delivery times can vary depending on the specific case and the region where the residency is being handled. It is estimated that it will take 6 months from lodging and 3 months from the case officer allocation.

How Long Will it Take for me to get a Skilled Migrant Resident Visa in New Zealand?

The time taken to process Skilled Migrant Visas in New Zealand is long as they are invitation-based. However, INZ should process your application within 5-14 months.

The visa approval process requires specialist input at different levels to protect detailed photographic documentation and to respond to any Potentially Prejudicial Information (PPI) letters from INZ.

There are many options to enter and stay in New Zealand and we can help find the best suited, most likely to be approved visa for you.

The Path to Permanent Residency  

Step 1: Your Work Visa Application with Immigration New Zealand

Most migrants have to register for a Work Visa on their way to residency. This means you are expected to already have a job or the firm offer of a job in New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand expects their processing period will take between 1 and 2 months. Applications may, however, take longer to process if more information is requested or your information needs to be checked.

Since they will have collected the necessary documentation during a preliminary phase, no valuable time will be lost taking care of essential formalities. If you choose to work with an immigration consultant they will be in touch with the prospective employer and will advise them on their commitments, including labor market testing.

Your Work Visa application must be carried out to a high standard to ensure smooth processing after it has been filed with Immigration New Zealand to prevent undue delays. While the application is pending, an immigration consultant can also take charge of any inquiries to the immigration officer on your behalf, and chase them up if they are close to the expected timeframe for an answer.

Step 2: Your Resident Visa Process with Immigration New Zealand

As soon as the licensed immigration consultant is positive your EOI will have a realistic chance of being selected during the next selection, your EOI will be submitted within two weeks. 

The verification process will be conducted during which Immigration New Zealand undertakes a preliminary check on the legitimacy of your claims. Once approved, you will receive an Invitation to Apply for a Residence Visa.

The estimated processing period by Immigration New Zealand for Resident Visa applications in the skilled migrant category is six months.

Delays may occur if the paperwork is insufficient or if any health or character details need to be reviewed. It is vital you inform them as early as possible of any problems which may emerge, such as health issues or prior convictions so we can arrange for a Health or Character Waiver Application.

Step 3: Permanent Residency

If you have satisfied the travel regulations by Immigration New Zealand and it’s two years since you obtained your New Zealand Resident Visa, you will be eligible for a Permanent Resident Visa.

The method of applying for a New Zealand Permanent Resident Visa is much simpler than that of applying for a Resident Visa or Work Visa. Once you hold a Permanent Resident Visa, you will no longer be subject to travel conditions.

You may be entitled to apply for New Zealand citizenship after you have lived in New Zealand as a Resident Visa holder for 5 years.

Once you hold permanent residency the next step is to apply for citizenship if you would like a New Zealand passport. You can find the requirements for citizenship here.

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