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New Zealand Residence Visa

For people who want to live in New Zealand permanently

Skilled Migrant Category

The Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) offers you the opportunity to move to New Zealand to work and live permanently after getting New Zealand Residence Visa.
Who can apply for Resident Visa?
To be eligible for residence under SMC you must:
  • be 55 or under
  • be healthy
  • be of good character
  • speak English (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent)
To decide if you can apply we use a points system. You get points for age, experience, employability and qualifications.

Highlights of the process

There are two stages of applying for residence under our Skilled Migrant Category:
  • Stage One – you complete an Expression of Interest (EOI). In this EOI, you can claim points for age, skilled employment, work experience, qualifications, etc. Your points total will help you determine whether to submit your EOI to us for a selection process.
    • at this stage, no evidence or documentation is required.
  • Stage Two – if your EOI is selected from the EOI Pool, we decide whether we’ll invite you to apply for residence  in New Zealand based on the points you have claimed.
    • The general timeframe for EOI verification process is 8-12 weeks. This may vary from branch to branch.
    • The Invitation to Apply (ITA) will contain instructions and a list of documents/evidence that will need to be submitted to the nearest office
    • Once the residence application with documents is submitted, an immigration officer will asses and decide if residence will be granted. They will communicate with the applicant if further information is required.
    • The general timeframe for residence processing is 6-9 months. This may vary from branch to branch.
You should assess your eligibility for the Skilled Migrant category before you decide to complete your Expression of Interest.

Million sheep live in New Zealand


of population are Maori

Migrants came in the year ended Aug'14

Official languages - English, Maori and Sign Language

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Major Steps Towards New Zealand Residence Visa

1. Requirements

To apply under the Skilled Migrant Category, you must meet our requirements. You need to be aged 55 or under. You also have to meet our standards of health, character, and English language ability before you start the process.


2. The Expression of Interest

This is the first step towards making an application. If you qualify, you can submit an Expression of Interest (EOI), in which you claim points for skills, experience, and other factors.


3. The EOI pool and the pool draw

If you have claimed 100 points or more on your EOI, you can submit it into the pool. Every fortnight, all EOIs over 140 points are automatically selected and the validity of the information is assessed. Providing the information submitted is deemed credible, the applicant is issued an invitation to apply (ITA). After this, lower scoring EOIs with certain factors, such as skilled employment in New Zealand, are selected.


4. Invitation to Apply

Once your EOI is drawn from the pool, INZ examine it and if they find it credible, they send you an ITA. You will have to show proof of the claims made on your EOI. This means medical and police certificates, proof of English language ability, and documentation regarding your skills, experience, and other factors.

The application form contains the information that you provided in your EOI. You will check the information and return it to INZ with your documentation.

The date that you make your SMC residence application with Immigration New Zealand determines the criteria that your application will be assessed against. The criteria that was current when you submitted your EOI, or current when your EOI was selected from the pool, is not necessarily the criteria that your SMC residence application will be assessed against.


5. Full assessment

Once INZ receive your application and documents, they start assessing you for residence. They make sure that you meet all our requirements, and that your points claims are valid.

INZ will also assess you on your ability to settle in New Zealand successfully. They may consider you able based on your application, or may wish to interview you.


6. Resident visas and Job Search visas

If you meet the criteria, and INZ believe you will settle successfully and contribute to New Zealand, they will offer you a resident visa.

If INZ think you have potential, but want to see how you settle, they will give you a job search visa, which you can use to help obtain an offer of skilled employment in New Zealand for up to nine months. If you obtain skilled employment in this time you will have shown your ability to settle and contribute, and your residence application will be approved.

Please remember that an SMC Job Search visa is an opportunity to seek skilled employment in New Zealand. It is not a guarantee of work, a job offer, or of residence. Immigration New Zealand advises against the sale of assets, the termination of children’s schooling, and the shipping of household items to New Zealand until an applicant’s residence status is fully approved.

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