New Zealand, known for its stunning landscapes and high quality of life, has recently announced significant changes to its Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa (SMC). These changes, set to take effect from 9th October 2023, aim to streamline the immigration process for skilled workers and address the country’s skill shortages.
In this blog post, we will delve into the details of these reforms and what they mean for prospective immigrants.
Here is what you need to know.
One of the major changes is the introduction of a new points system. To apply for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa, applicants will need to accumulate at least 6 points. Points can be claimed based on New Zealand occupational registration, qualifications (Bachelor’s degree or higher), or income from a job or job offer (earning at least 1.5 times the median wage in New Zealand). Additionally, applicants can claim 1 point for each year of skilled work in New Zealand, up to a maximum of 3 points.
The new points system is designed to provide clarity and certainty to applicants. By setting a clear skills threshold, applicants can easily ascertain their eligibility for the visa. This addresses a long-standing issue where some individuals were uncertain about their immigration status.
To be eligible for the visa, applicants must have a skilled job or job offer from an accredited employer in New Zealand. The job or job offer must be at least 30 hours a week and be on a permanent contract or fixed-term contract for at least 12 months. Additionally, the role must be in an ANZSCO Level 1 to 3 occupation and paid at or above the median wage, or in an ANZSCO Level 4 to 5 occupation and paid at or above 1.5 times the median wage.
There are three skills-based pathways for gaining New Zealand residence: the Skilled Migrant Resident pathway, the Green List pathway, and the Care Workforce and Transport Sector Agreement pathways. The Skilled Migrant Resident pathway is the primary route, while the Green List pathway is occupation-specific for roles that are nationally significant and in global demand. The Care Workforce and Transport Sector Agreement pathways are tailored for individuals in these specific sectors.
The maximum duration of an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will be extended from three to five years. This extension aligns with the introduction of a five-year maximum continuous stay on an AEWV for individuals who are not on a pathway to residence. This change provides longer-term certainty for both visa holders and businesses.
Applicants can include their partners and any dependent children up to the age of 24 in their application. Family members must also meet the English language requirements.
New Zealand’s immigration reforms are a welcome change for skilled workers looking to make the country their home. By simplifying the points system and providing clarity on eligibility criteria, the New Zealand government is making strides in attracting and retaining skilled migrants. If you are a skilled worker considering moving to New Zealand, now is the time to familiarize yourself with these changes and take the necessary steps toward making your dream a reality.