Skilled Migration to New Zealand FAQ

What is the Skilled Migrant Category and how does it work?

The Skilled Migrant Category is a points-based residence policy, for people who wish to live permanently in New Zealand. A person who wishes to apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category must first put in an Expression of Interest (EOI) to Immigration New Zealand, claiming points for factors like their qualifications, work experience and job offer. Immigration New Zealand does a fortnightly draw selecting EOIs based on the points claimed, then invites people with sufficient points to apply.

All applicants must meet some minimum criteria, regarding health, character and English language.

 What is changing, when?

Two changes to the Skilled Migrant Category have been announced:

the points threshold for automatic selection has been increased from 140 to 160 from 12 October 2016 (regardless of whether an applicant has a job offer)

the way applicants show evidence that they meet the minimum standard of English language is changing

What is happening with the Skilled Migrant Category points threshold and why? What was the situation before?

Previously, all EOIs were selected where the person had claimed:

 140 points or more

100-139 points, where they claimed points for a New Zealand job offer

What are the changes?

 

From 12 October 2016 only EOIs with 160 points or more will be selected. This will enable the number of Skilled Migrant Category resident visas granted in 2016/17 to remain within the target range.

Why does this have to change?

New Zealand is currently a popular destination, and therefore there is a very high demand for places under the Skilled Migrant Category. To ensure that this demand is managed effectively, the Government has set the total planning range for the Skilled/Business stream of the NZRP across the 2016/17 and 2017/18 years at 50,500–57,500. If INZ was to continue to select EOIs using the same thresholds as previously, more visas would be granted than the target range allows.

Is the new points threshold of 160 permanent?

No. The automatic selection mark for EOIs may be adjusted as necessary to manage the achievement of the overall New Zealand Residence Programme.

What is happening with evidence of English language and why?

What was the situation before?

The minimum English language requirement for applicants under the Skilled Migrant Category is an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) overall score of 6.5 across the four language domains (reading, writing, listening and speaking).

Prior to the 12 October change, immigration officers could also consider a variety of alternative pieces of evidence of English language ability in place of an IELTS score, including:

a recognised qualification where the medium of instruction was English

one year of skilled employment in New Zealand

other evidence that the applicant is a competent user of English (for example the country in which the applicant resides, the nature of their current or previous employment, whether members of the applicant’s family speak English).

In any case, an immigration officer could still require the applicant to provide an IELTS test.

What are the changes about who has to do a test?

 

People who are invited to apply from 12 October onwards will not be able to use the same alternative evidence of English language in place of a test as previously. The evidence that can be accepted in place of a test will be limited to:

 citizenship of Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America 

provided the applicant has spent at least five years in work or education in one or more of those countries or Australia or New Zealand; or

a recognised qualification comparable to a New Zealand level 7 bachelor’s degree and gained in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America as a result of study undertaken for at least two academic years in one or more of those countries; or

a recognised qualification comparable to a New Zealand qualification at level 8 or above and gained in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America as a result of study undertaken for at least one academic year in one or more of those countries.

People invited to apply before 12 October will not be affected and may still use the alternatives previously in place. They only need to provide what Immigration New Zealand has already requested on the invitation to apply.

 

What are the changes about what kind of tests Immigration New Zealand will accept?

 

From 21 November 2016, Immigration New Zealand will accept a wider range of English language tests.

 

The new tests that INZ will accept are:

 

Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet Based Test (TOEFL iBT)

Occupational English Test (OET)

Cambridge English: First (FCE) and FCE for Schools

Pearson Test of English: Academic (PTE: Academic)

 

 

 


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