FAQs on Changes to New Zealand Skilled Migrant Category by 14 August 2017

Why are amendments being made?

Like Australia and other countries with permanent migration programs, New Zealand wants to improve the skill composition and ensure” that the country is “attracting migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand. Towards this end, some of the key changes being considered are:

What are the changes being considered?

After increasing the total points needed to be invited to apply for residency (from 140 to 160), the selection system had been “realigned” giving preference to characteristics that would enhance “better outcomes for migrants:” hence the emphasis on increasing the minimum income required for jobs being offered to support a migrant’s application for permanent residency.

The New Zealand median income (NZMI) for jobs considered skilled had been set at $48,859 a year. An NZMI of 1.5 times the median income of $73,299 a year is required for “jobs that are not currently considered skilled, but are well paid.”

More points will be available for skilled work experience and some recognised post graduate qualifications, and points for age will increase for applicants aged 30-39.

Bonus points withdrawn. Before the changes, applicants with qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage; in Identified Future Growth Areas and for those with close family in New Zealand are no longer available.

Would the proposed changes result in fewer people to be granted residence under the SMC?

Apparently, people in “low-paid employment” are likely to be affected.  However, he changes expand the definition of skilled employment to allow some people to obtain residence who have previously been unable to claim points for their employment in New Zealand – people who are not currently considered to be in skilled employment because their job is not in an Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) skill level 1, 2 or 3 occupation will be able to claim points for their job if they are earning $73,299 or more per year.

What would be the profile of a successful applicant for residency with these changes?

Applicants with the appropriate skilled work experience, commensurate high salary and skill levels within the 30-39 age group are likely to benefit.

What are the specific changes in each policy area?

The New Zealand Immigration Service’s website provies the following information:

Work experience

Qualifications, age and partner’s qualifications

Are there any changes to the health, character or English language requirements?


Will the selection point change when the new SMC comes into effect?

The selection point has been adjusted as necessary “for the overall planning range of the New Zealand Residence Programme.” Currently, there is no information on where the selection point will be set when the new Skilled Migrant Category is implemented.

Are further changes in the salary thresholds expected?

The basis for setting a salary threshold depends on information from New Zealand income data, hence the need for an annual review.

What happens to SMC applications not yet finalized or if no decision has been made afer 14 August 2017?

Such applications “will continue to be assessed under the current instructions.”.

If an invitation to apply was issued before 14 August but the SMC residence application is submitted after 14 August, which instructions would apply?

The application will be assessed “under the SMC instructions that were in place at the time the Expression of Interest was selected, regardless of whether the application is submitted after 14 August.  However,  the standard four-moth limit to submit the application still applies.

How about EOIs selected from the SMC Pool “before 14 August” but were then returned to the Pool for not meeting the minimum points (at the time the EOI is returned to the pool)?

For Expressions of Interest selected but subsequently returned to the pool for failure to meet the requirements to be issued an Invitation to Apply under the adjusted rules, applicants may resubmit without charge.  However, “if, as a result of the changes, (the applicant) is no longer able to claim 100 points, the EoI will not be accepted into the Pool.”

When will more detailed information be available about the changes to the SMC?

NZIS said it hopes “to have more information available in June 2017.”

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About the Author

Crispin Aranda

Crispin Aranda

Crispin R. Aranda is an established International Visa Conselor and Immigrant Advocate. He is the president of IVC and is in several migration radio programs.

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