After being closed for several months, the government reopened the Skilled Migrant Category Resident visa last week. However, one significant change to the new rules – the preliminary qualification assessment conducted by NZQA has been removed. This makes it difficult for applicants to submit their Expressions of Interest before the 9 November draw at 160 points. If they don't, they likely won't be considered due to the increased threshold.
The New Zealand Qualification Authority did a preliminary assessment of qualifications for most applicants before Covid-19 threw immigration into disarray and this visa was put on ice in March 2020. This initial assessment would take a couple of weeks and allow applicants to include provisional recognition of their qualification with their application, and get a place in the queue, providing the full assessment later in the application process. A preliminary evaluation gave a good enough indication of whether a qualification ticked the boxes for the residence process to start.
The system of quick checks is no longer in use as it has been removed by NZQA. The only alternative is to complete the full qualification, which can take 12 weeks. You won't be able to submit the Immigration EOI until you've completed the required qualification. It's just not adding in this case. If applicants must wait for the full period of four months before having their credentials assessed the chances of them being able to meet the deadline of 9 November are not very good and many of them won't attain the higher point (180) threshold.
After it was announced that the SMC category was removed in 2020, the immigration minister said it was to be examined.
Therefore, everyone was hoping that a new system would start. However, it seems INZ hasn't made enough advancements in the past two years to start an entirely new system by 2022. They have therefore re-started the old system and are unaware that the preliminary report is not available anymore.
If the error was a mistake this is unfair to the applicants who've been waiting for this visa's re-opening.
If the reopening was conducted in the context of NZQA's retirement of this vital process, it's another indication that immigration isn't an important issue for the government and that the labor and skills shortages that we're currently experiencing will not end, leaving applicants along with their loved ones, along with employers feeling dissatisfied.
There still remains a lot to be seen. The upcoming days will show us how things go! Stay tuned for more information.