The Skill Migrant Category Visa or SMC resident visa uses a points system with factors such as age, qualifications, work experience, family connection, and a skilled employment offer as the basis. You must also be 55 years old or younger, and pass all requirements regarding the English language, health, and character to be eligible for this type of visa.
Under this type of visa, an applicant can include their partner, and dependent children who are 24 years of age and under, in their residence application.
Before applying, an Expression of Interest (EOI) must be sent to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) informing them about your qualifications, work experience and capacity to contribute and settle to New Zealand.
This will be scored by INZ and if it attains more than one hundred sixty (160) points, that is when they will offer you a chance to submit a residence application.
Unlike other types of visa offered by the New Zealand government, the cost and process of an SMC resident visa is quite different. To give you an idea of how much it will possibly cost you, please refer to the table below:
Country of Application
Online EOI Application Fee
Visa Application Fee (with levy)
Based in New Zealand
After submitting your EOI, it will then be lined up along with other applications for processing. The assessment time varies and it depends on INZ’s caseload but it can roughly be between 8 weeks to 16 weeks.
Then, should your EOI be chosen, INZ will complete a preliminary assessment of your provided information and you may be given a chance to apply for residence.
About 4 months will be given to you to submit the residency application from the date of receipt of your Invitation to Apply (ITA). You must send your application to INZ, along with other supporting documents and the required application fee.
After paying, the application process will commence and the process time it will take will be an average of 6 to 18 months.
Generally, if an application is complete, has no error in information, and provides all documentation in accordance to the INZ requirements, then the application process is more likely to be faster and successful.
The process seems fairly easy but a lot of applicants have been unsuccessful in applying for the SMC resident visa because of lack of knowledge by the applicant.
Many applicants miscalculate themselves as having points which they actually do not meet. This starts with providing the wrong information in the EOI that will ultimately lead to the miscalculation of the possible points an applicant will have for his EOI to meet the required score to be invited to apply for residency.
Immigration Trust offers services that can assist you in making your EOI and your application by making both clear enough to aid INZ to make a most likely favorable decision about your suitability.
Should you wish us to assist you in evaluating your points to ensure your qualification for a residence visa, please contact us
Skilled Migrant Policy Changes to remuneration thresholds
During the recent years, Immigration NZ has changed the remuneration thresholds three times. We found some lawyers and advisers are still referring to the old thresholds for assessing their clients' cases.
Previous remuneration thresholds for SMC
Current remuneration thresholds for SMC
Other changes introduced to SMC
Changes to this category include:
the introduction of remuneration thresholds as an additional means of defining skilled employment
the requirement for previous work experience to be skilled, with more points available for skilled work experience
an increase in points for age between 30 and 39
an increase in points for level 9 and 10 post graduate qualifications
points for employment, work experience and qualifications in identified future growth areas, qualifications in areas of absolute skills shortage and close family in New Zealand will be removed.
This is a category for people who have the skills, qualifications, and experience that New Zealand needs. If you are between the age of 22 and 55 years, hold qualification(s) and/or have experience and/or have a job offer in New Zealand, we can calculate your points and advise whether you qualify. The points threshold for EOI selection has increased from 140 to 160. The evidence for English language has also changed. For more information, please visit here.
Skilled employment must be matched with ANZSCO.
How does your Immigration Officer determine skilled employment? Under the SMC, skilled employment is defined as, “employment that requires specialist, technical, or management expertise.”
1. An offer of employment or current employment in New Zealand will be assessed as skilled, and is primarily based on the ANZSCO which associates skill levels with each occupation.
2. The applicant’s offer of employment or current employment must be assessed to determine whether it substantially matches the description for that occupation (including core tasks) as set out in the ANZSCO.
3. There has been some inconsistency in the assessment of whether applicants’ offers of employment or current employment substantially match the description for the occupation (including core tasks) as set out in the ANZSCO. The following occupations have been identified in particular:
141111 Café or Restaurant Manager, 142111 Retail Manager (General), and 512111 Office Manager.
4. Careful consideration must be given when dealing with any SMC applications based on an offer of employment or current employment in the above occupations, including undertaking verification where it’s appropriate.
5. Inconsistent and inadequate assessment of whether employment substantially matches the ANZSCO description for an occupation is contrary to the purposes of the SMC and may result in decision-making that is incorrect in terms of Government residence instructions. It may also lead to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT) returning applications to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) for re-assessment.
6. Any application under the SMC must be assessed on its own merits. If a previous application based on similar employment might have been approved before, whether the employment is a “substantial match” or not, must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. An application must not be approved simply because a previous decision found a similar employment as a match. This will still require further verification and information.
Assessment of a ‘substantial match’ 7. Assessing whether an applicant’s offer of employment or current employment is a “substantial match” requires careful consideration of a range of factors. This includes specialist, technical, or management expertise. Immigration officers must pay close attention to the factors outlined below, which have been noted in recent IPT decisions.
Whether there are other similar ANZSCO occupations 8. Look for the relevant range of ANZSCO occupations with varying titles and listed specialisations. An applicant’s occupation title may differ to what’s described in the ANZSCO, but the core tasks will be consistent. This assessment should include a comparison of similar ANZSCO positions, including whether the role matches a lower skilled occupation than the one nominated. (e.g. Retail Supervisor instead of Retail Manager)
“Management” will have a specific meaning depending on the occupation 9. “Management” is a generic term, but it must be assessed narrowly when considering whether an applicant’s offer of employment or current employment substantially matches a management position as described in the ANZSCO. (e.g. Does the applicant “organise and control the operations” of the retail/café/restaurant establishment?) Although the job title may be managerial, this does not necessarily mean the applicant holds the same responsibility for organising and controlling the operations of the business.
Consider whether the employment is a substantial match “as a whole” 10. The IPT has made it clear that INZ should consider the offer of employment or current employment “holistically.” What this means is taking into account the core tasks as set out in the ANZSCO and the specific characteristics of the applicant’s employment as a whole, not focusing solely on whether the applicant performs certain tasks.
11. In practice, this means considering the scope and scale of the employer’s organisation and operation. This may include factors such as the size of the operation, the number of staff and managers, and whether management functions are centralised at a head office or undertaken by other managers. Centralisation of many core managerial functions, –specifically with planning, purchasing, financial, and overall responsibility for decision-making–may result in a downgrading of the managerial responsibility held by a manager. For example, in the case of a takeaway pizza franchise, the IPT found that due to this centralisation of core managerial functions, the franchisee rather than the “manager” was listed in the ANZSCO position of Restaurant Manager (IPT 200150).
The salary may indicate whether the position is a “substantial match” 12. Take into account the remuneration offered as an indicator of the applicant’s level of responsibility. In a past appeal, it was noted that if a salary offered is well below what was offered for the nominated position in the industry generally, it could indicate that the position itself is not as skilled as claimed, but one that requires a lower level of skills (RRB 15789).
The “substantial match” must be proportionate 13. For example: You should consider whether a person with an offer of employment as a Retail Manager, who spends the majority of their time serving customers or supervising staff, is a substantial match to the ANZSCO description for Retail Manager (General). While an applicant’s job might incorporate some aspects of retail management that does not necessarily mean it meets the ANZSCO description for the position.
14. If business intelligence is available concerning the applicant’s occupation or employer, ensure that it is considered when assessing whether there is a “substantial match.”
Verification reports 15. Verification reports regarding employment should provide a clear assessment as to whether employment is a “substantial match” and whether it meets the requirements of skilled employment under the SMC, as well as recording details of the verification undertaken.
Potentially prejudicial information 16. A verification report that finds an applicant’s offer of employment or current employment does not substantially match the ANZSCO description for the occupation must be carefully considered. This potentially prejudicial information (PPI) must be put on the applicant in writing and in plain English. Do not simply “cut and paste” text from the verification report in a letter to the applicant (although it may be useful to provide this separately). Consider recording in the PPI letter whether you are satisfied that the applicant performs or will perform each core task listed in the ANZSCO description for the occupation. Although this does not change the need to consider the employment “holistically.”
Making the final decision 17. If comments or submissions are received that contest your or the verification officer’s assessment of whether the employment is a “substantial match,” do not accept them at face value. Consider the comments and assess whether they adequately address all the concerns from the applicant, remembering that the applicant is required to demonstrate that the employment substantially matches the ANZSCO description.
18. If the PPI letter was based on a verification report, immigration officers should consult with the verification officer who completed the report before proceeding to a final decision. The verification officer may be able to provide advice on the
Credibility of the comments. 19. Having considered the comments, record whether you are satisfied that the applicant’s offer of employment or current employment substantially matches the description for that position (including core tasks) as set out in the ANZSCO.
20. If the employment is assessed as a “substantial match,” despite the verification report finding it not to be, the reasons for this must be clearly recorded in notes.
21. If the employment is not found to be a substantial match, ensure that the rejection letter provides detailed reasons explaining why the requirements have not adequately addressed INZ’s concerns. Make sure that they are considered against INZ’s initial concerns.
New English requirements for Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa and Invitation to Apply.
If a potential SMC applicant has completed their Expression of Interest (“EOI”) stating that they ‘otherwise meet the minimum requirement’ and then, in the notes field indicate that they are planning to do an English language test, Immigration New Zealand will not be issuing Invitations to Apply (“ITA”) for residence.
At the time of expressing their interest, a person needs to confirm that they: · meet the minimum standard because they have completed a test and obtained the required score; or · meet the other requirements relating to country of citizenship and residence or qualifications obtained in the specified countries
Skill shortage list checker
Check your occupation to see if we need your skills in New Zealand. If you're offered a job that's on one of the lists, and you've got the qualifications and experience to match, getting a work or residence visa may be easier.