Skilled Migrant Category

Note: There are significant delays in the processing for residence Skilled Migrant applications. We understand applications lodged in August 2019 are only beginning to be allocated to Immigration Officers for further processing.

Major changes pending

As at April 2021, there was a current suspension on the selection of Expressions of Interest until further notice.  There are about 7,500 Expressions of Interests submitted over the last 12-months waiting in the queue. We have been told that almost half claim less than the minimum threshold of 160-points.  It is uncertain whether criteria (such as points increasing) will change when selections resume.  Pacific Legal will update our website when more is known.

The Skilled Migrant Category provides a complex points based system for gaining residence, under which you may claim points for various factors including your qualifications, work experience, age, and your partner’s or spouse’s qualifications. There are additional points to be gained if you have a job offer in New Zealand, have studied or worked in New Zealand, or you have work experience or a job offer in a skill-shortage occupation.

An offer of skilled employment is critical to a successful application under this category.   Furthermore, applicants must meet health, character, English language and income requirements.

While the Skilled Migrant Category provides the most common and popular route to obtain New Zealand residence, it is important to be aware of and plan for the pitfalls that may await even the most careful and attentive applicant under this category.

We are frequently consulted by frustrated applicants run into complications with their applications months or even years into the process.

First-step: Expression of Interest

On occasions even the most straightforward student visa applications run into problems.  Those problems can be concerns about poor attendance or performance.  Quick intervention can often save an application from being declined.

Pacific Legal has advised on many student visa applications.  If you have an Offer of Place to Study in New Zealand and you are thinking of applying for a student visa, be sure to contact us for professional advice and representation.

Second-step: Invitation to Apply

Once selected, EOIs then undergo a verification process that may last several weeks and candidates are then issued an Invitation to Apply for Residence, following which a full application for residence must then be prepared and submitted.  Generally, this is within 4-months.

Be aware!

The policy selection criteria under the Skilled Migrant category are complex and processing times are currently 24-months.  Circumstances may change during this time, such as being made redundant due to Covid-19, which may also affect your ongoing eligibility.

Significant care needs to be taken in terms of the job offer. Many people end up in a difficult situation where they hold a work visa for a job they regarded as skilled but that does not meet the definition of “skilled employment” in this category of residence application.

Assuming that because you hold a work visa you are eligible for a residence visa can be a costly mistake.  In addition there are age limits, minimum English language requirements and income threshold that can present a barrier to qualifying for residence.


Get it right the first time

Detailed research is required to establish if you qualify for residence under this category before you start any application process.

Pacific Legal has an extensive knowledge of immigration policy and its underlying legal requirements, having assisted countless skilled migrants and their families realise their expectations under this category.

Our services include:

  • Full evaluation of the Skilled Migrant Category eligibility.
  • Advising clients and their employers on Skilled Migrant Category requirements including employment agreements, ANZSCO requirements and job descriptions
  • Advising on NZQA assessments
  • Legal submissions to Immigration New Zealand regarding policy and eligibility
  • Resolving problems (Potentially Prejudicial Information)
  • Appeals of unsuccessful Skilled Migrant Category cases to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

If you are serious about gaining residence under the Skilled Migrant Category and want the assurance that your application is carefully strategised, properly prepared and presented, be sure to contact us for professional advice and representation.

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Contact us today to speak to one of our Immigration Lawyers