New Zealand’s Revamped Skilled Migrant Visa: A Comprehensive Guide

Explore the reforms to New Zealand's Skilled Migrant Visa, simplifying the points system and enhancing eligibility criteria.
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Last Updated On June 21, 2023
Contributors: Denise Renshaw. Edited By Inder Singh & Reviewed by Simar Singh.

New Zealand, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and exceptional quality of life, has recently announced significant reforms to its Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa (SMC). These reforms, effective from October 9th, 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 intricacies of these reforms and their implications for aspiring immigrants.

Meeting the Six-Point Threshold

One of the key changes entails the introduction of a revamped points system. To qualify for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa, applicants must accumulate a minimum of 6 points. Points can be earned through New Zealand occupational registration, possessing a Bachelor's degree or higher qualification, or having a job or job offer with an income of at least 1.5 times the median wage in New Zealand. Furthermore, applicants can claim 1 point for each year of skilled work in New Zealand, up to a maximum of 3 points.

Enhanced Clarity and Certainty

The new points system seeks to offer greater clarity and certainty to applicants. By setting a definitive skills threshold, individuals can readily determine their eligibility for the visa, addressing the longstanding issue of uncertainty surrounding immigration status.

Requirements for Skilled Job or Job Offers

To qualify for the visa, applicants must secure a skilled job or job offer from an accredited employer in New Zealand. The job or job offer should entail a minimum of 30 hours of work per week, on either a permanent contract or a fixed-term contract lasting at least 12 months. Additionally, the position must fall under an ANZSCO Level 1 to 3 occupation and offer a salary at or above the median wage, or fall under an ANZSCO Level 4 to 5 occupation and offer a salary at or above 1.5 times the median wage.

Pathways to Skilled Residence

There are three skills-based pathways for obtaining New Zealand residence: the Skilled Migrant Resident pathway, the Green List pathway, and the Care Workforce and Transport Sector Agreement pathways. The primary route is the Skilled Migrant Resident pathway, while the Green List pathway caters to occupation-specific roles that hold national significance and are in high demand worldwide. The Care Workforce and Transport Sector Agreement pathways are tailored for individuals in these specific sectors.

Extended Duration of Accredited Employer Work Visa

The maximum validity of an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will be extended from three to five years. This aligns with the implementation of a five-year maximum continuous stay on an AEWV for individuals who are not on a pathway to residence. These changes ensure enhanced long-term certainty for visa holders and businesses alike.

Inclusion of Family Members

Applicants can include their partners and dependent children up to the age of 24 in their visa application. Family members are also required to meet the English language requirements.


New Zealand's immigration reforms present an encouraging opportunity for skilled workers aspiring to call the country their home. By simplifying the points system and providing clear eligibility criteria, the New Zealand government is taking significant steps to attract and retain skilled migrants. If you are a skilled worker contemplating a move to New Zealand, now is the time to familiarize yourself with these changes and embark on the necessary steps to turn your dream into a reality.