Skilled Migrant


The Skilled Migrant Category is a two stage, points-based residence category. Points are granted for:

  • Skilled employment in NZ
  • Work Experience
  • Qualifications
  • Age

Bonus points may be granted in a number of additional areas, depending on an applicant's specific circumstances.
The minimum acceptable pass is 100 points.

The Process

The first stage of the SMC process is to obtain an assessment of your potential mark (discussed below) and if 100 points or above are attained, to then lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) with Immigration New Zealand. EOIs will be entered into a pool and applicants who score at least 140 points, will automatically have their EOIs selected.

If there are not enough EOIs selected to meet the quota, those scoring between 100 and 140 points with skilled employment in NZ, will be drawn, followed by those scoring points for work experience and/or qualifications in areas of absolute skill shortage. If places are still available, consideration will be given to those who score at least 100 points but who do not have an offer of skilled employment or qualify for bonus points.

On the surface this appears to be a straightforward process, but it is far from simple and potential difficulties include:

  1. Although an applicant may appear to achieve more than 100 points considerable care needs to be taken to ascertain whether or not an offer of 'skilled' employment will be necessary to validate other aspects of the application. Skilled employment is restrictively defined in accordance with historical NZ Government data

  2. If an EOI is lodged without an offer of skilled employment, applicants with high level points may be invited to apply for residence, but it is likely that a six month work-to-residence visa will be granted to enable the applicant to secure skilled employment. Once the applicant has worked in a position of skilled employment for three months, s/he may apply to complete the residence process.

  3. Although intending applicants may need to maximize their points claim to ensure possibility of being drawn from the pool, they should take considerable care to ensure that whatever is stated in their EOI does not compromise their chance of being selected from the pool. Likewise, when lodging an application for residence, any variation from the EOI may be considered suspect by Immigration New Zealand.

  4. Your Access Immigration consultant will be able to advise on the current definitions of 'relevant' work experience, 'recognised' work experience, 'recognised' qualifications, 'skilled' employment, 'comparable' labour market and the many other terms applicable to this category

  5. Although Appeal Authority statistics show an exceptionally high level of incorrect decisions by Immigration New Zealand, there is no right of appeal or reconsideration if for any reason Immigration New Zealand decides not to issue an invitation to apply for residence.

  6. Immigration New Zealand operates a 'global prioritisation' process which allows individual visa officers to approve or lapse any EOI for any reason, even in conflict with policy, and there is no right of appeal or reconsideration of EOI decisions

Because of the highly complex nature of the SMC process, applicants submitting under this category should seek professional advice to minimise the risk of inadvertently compromising the application.

Minimum Criteria

The following are the minimum criteria which all Skilled Migrant applicants must meet:

  1. All residence and many temporary entry applicants must provide current medical certificates. Medical certificates have a short-term validity period for immigration purposes and it is important that you do not obtain your medical certificates until we advise you to do so.

  2. Applicants aged 17 and older, must provide police certificates and meet good character requirements.

  3. Recognised qualifications must be equivalent to at least a level 4 New Zealand tertiary qualification; although some level 3 qualifications are acceptable.

  4. If your qualification is in a field which requires registration to practice, you must obtain New Zealand registration before lodging your EOI; and your work experience must relate to your qualification unless an offer of skilled employment has been received, which although relevant to your qualification, does not require registration. Check Occupational Registration for the list of occupations that require registration.

  5. The principal applicant must be aged between 20 and 55 years when the residence application is lodged.

  6. The principal applicant' must be fluent in spoken and written English. The minimum acceptable level is 'an English speaking background' or an 'International English Language Testing System' (IELTS) test confirming an overall band score of 6.5 in the in the general training module. Evidence will be required. Your spouse/partner and other 'non-principal applicants' aged 16 and over who do not meet the standard may pre-purchase English language tuition. The cost of the English language tuition will depend on the level obtained in the IELTS test.

  7. You must be able to support and accommodate yourself and your family for your first two years in New Zealand.


If you believe you qualify for Skilled Migrant Assessment under the above conditions,  you may complete a questionnaire which will download to us for assessment.  Our assessment will identify the points you will achieve under SMC policy, and includes a comparison of the information you have provided about your work experience and any offer of employment you have, with the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) and relevant data from the NZ Immigration Operational Manual.

Please note that because of the increasing complexity of immigration policy, the time and expertise involved in providing assessments and our legal responsibilities under New Zealand legislation, there is a NZD 100 fee for each assessment.  The fee may be paid by major credit card.  For security purposes, you may choose to advise your card details by separate email. To complete an assessment, please go to our Assessment Questionnaire

If you do not qualify under the Skilled Migrant criteria, please go to Family,  Business or Corporate Immigration Services