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Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa for NZ

If you are a highly skilled professional or trained specialist, you can apply for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident visa. With this visa, you can study, work and live in New Zealand with your dependents.

To know more about the New Zealand resident visa, including details about the eligibility criteria, application process, documents required and Skilled Migrant Category Resident visa update, contact us at Total Law. We have a team of expert immigration specialists that can help you with your application. Get in touch by calling 0333 305 9375 or sending a message online.

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    Introduction to Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa

    The Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) Resident visa is a permit issued by the government of New Zealand to skilled professionals to work, live or study in the country for an unlimited time. With this visa, the New Zealand government aims to attract foreign nationals with relevant skills that can contribute to the economy’s growth. The SMC resident visa also permits you to apply with your dependents (partner and children 24 and below).

    In October 2023, the government added a point-based system to ensure that only those who meet the income, employment and registration requirements get the visa. It is important to note that you must have a job offer from an accredited employer in New Zealand before you can apply for the visa. The SMC is one of the routes to permanent residency in New Zealand.

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    Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa Requirements

    If you want to apply for the SMC resident visa, you’ll need to meet the requirements below:

    Health Requirement

    One of the requirements you must meet when applying for this visa is the health requirement. You and your family must be in good health, and you’ll need to prove this by undergoing medical examinations. You must undergo a chest x-ray and a general medical examination. Pregnant women and children 10 years and below do not need to undergo an x-ray test. Children 14 and below do not also need to undergo the blood test under the general medical examination.

    Good Character Requirement

    You must show that you are a good member of society with good standing. To prove this, you must present a police character certificate from every country in which you hold citizenship status. Furthermore, you’ll need to present a police character certificate from any country you have spent at least 1 year in over the past 10 years. Note that your certificate must not be up to 6 months at the time of your application.

    English Requirement

    You must prove you can understand and speak English. There are many ways to confirm that you meet the English language requirement. Here they are below:

    • You are from an English-speaking country. For the sake of this visa, English-speaking countries are the UK, the US, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.
    • You have studied or worked in any of these English-speaking countries for at least 5 years.
    • You have spent 2 years getting a bachelor’s degree or 1 year getting a postgraduate degree in any of these English-speaking countries.
    • You have written any of the standardised English language tests like IELTS or Cambridge. Your result must meet the minimum band requirement and not be older than 2 years.


    You must be 55 or younger at the time of your application.

    Valid Skilled Job or Offer

    If you are in New Zealand, you must have a skilled job with an approved employer. If you are outside New Zealand, you must have a skilled job offer from a valid employer.

    Your job offer or job is skilled if:

    • It requires you to work a minimum of 30 hours weekly.
    • It is on levels 1 to 3 on the ANZSCO (Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations) scale and pays above the average wage. It can also be on levels 4 to 5 on the ANSCSO scale and pay at least 1.5 times the median wage.
    • It is a permanent role, a service contract for 6 months or a fixed-term job lasting at least 1 year.

    Qualification Requirement

    Your educational qualification must be on one of the skilled migrant category list of qualifications. These categories are:

    • The New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).
    • The List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment (LQEA).
    • The International Qualifications Assessment (IQA).

    If any of the categories above recognises your qualification, you can get between 3 and 6 points depending on your level of education.

    • Level 10 doctorate gives you 6 points.
    • Level 9 master’s degree gives you 5 points.
    • Level 8 postgraduate diploma or bachelor honours gives you 4 points.
    • Level 8 postgraduate certificate or level 7 bachelor’s degree gives you 3 points.

    New Zealand Skilled Work Experience

    While meeting this requirement is not compulsory, it improves your score. You get 1 point for each year of work experience in New Zealand, up to 3 points maximum. For the skilled work experience to count, you must be working 30 hours a week. It must also be a permanent job, a fixed contract of 12 months or a service contract of a minimum of 6 months.

    Documents Required

    Below are some documents you must submit to prove your eligibility for the SMC resident visa. Note that all documents must be in English. You’ll need to add certified translations if your documents are not in English.

    • Valid passport to prove your identity and nationality.
    • Police character certificate issued not up to 6 months before your application date.
    • Medical examination results for chest x-ray and general medical tests.
    • Proof of English language proficiency. This could be your passport(to prove you’re from an English-speaking nation), your educational certificate or employment letter (to confirm you have worked or studied in an English-speaking country or results of standardised English language tests gotten no earlier than 2 years.
    • Proof that you have a skilled job or a job offer from a valid employer.
    • Proof that you have the New Zealand occupational registration.
    • Completed expression of interest form.
    • Proof your educational qualification is recognised by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.
    • Proof of work experience in and outside of New Zealand.
    • Invitation to apply from the New Zealand immigration authorities.
    • Marriage and birth certificates to show you have genuine relationships with the dependents added to your application.

    Financial Requirements and Sponsorship

    You must also meet certain financial requirements when applying for the SMC resident visa.

    • If you are paid 1.5 times the average wage in New Zealand, you can claim 3 points.
    • If you are paid 2 times the average wage in New Zealand, you can claim 4 points.
    • If you are paid 3 times the average wage in New Zealand, you can claim 6 points.

    This is for those who want to use the New Zealand work experience to get more points in their application. You must meet the minimum wage requirement in your job throughout the time you spend on the job. If you want to claim 6 points for being paid 3 times the average wage, you’ll need to show you were paid that amount throughout your 3 years of working in New Zealand. If you are using the New Zealand skilled work experience to apply for the SMC resident visa, you must also show that your employer is accredited by the government to sponsor your job application.

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      Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa Application Process and Costs


      Before applying for the visa, you need to confirm that you have at least 100 points. Use the New Zealand immigration points calculator to check how many points you have. To apply for the SMC resident visa, follow the steps below:

      Step 1: Complete the Expression of Interest Online Form

      You can get this form at the New Zealand government website. To access the form, you must either sign in or sign up on your account. After doing so, you will be prompted to choose the visa you are applying for. Ensure you complete the form with the correct details. To avoid visa refusal, you must also ensure that your details are accurate and error-free.

      Step 2: Pay the Application Fee for Expression of Interest Form

      Your payment must be made online. You can use card or transfer options to make your payments.

      Step 3: Apply for the Visa

      You’ll be notified via email if your expression of interest form is selected. The email will have a link to make your application.

      Step 4: Attach Supporting Documents

      The email from the immigration officials of New Zealand will contain a sponsor supplementary form – SMC (INZ 1235). You must give this form to your employer or potential employer to fill out. You must attach the completed form and other supporting documents and submit them to the application portal. Note that all your documents must be in PDF.

      Step 5: Pay the Residence Visa Application Fee

      You’ll need to pay the application fee immediately after you submit your application.

      Step 6: Contact from Immigration New Zealand

      You can keep checking your email to see if the immigration officials need you to attend an interview or submit another document to help them assess your application.


      • NZD $590 for the expression of interest form.
      • NZD $4,890 for the residence visa fee.
      • Note that you will not be refunded in case of a visa denial.

      Conditions and Duration of Stay

      If your Skilled Migrant Category Resident visa is approved, you’ll need to be careful to observe the following:

      • You must apply for an entry permit at the border. If you are outside New Zealand, you’ll get an arrival card that you must complete before you get to the border. Once you reach the border, show it to the officials, as it is your entry permit application.
      • You must always keep your visa in a valid passport. If your passport expires, you must apply for it to be transferred to a valid passport.
      • You can leave and re-enter New Zealand till you exhaust your travel conditions. You have multiple entry permissions in your first 2 years on this visa. After that, you must apply for permanent residence or seek a permit to travel freely in and out of the country.
      • You must stay employed for at least 3 months if you’re in Auckland and 12 months if you’re outside Auckland.
      • You must present proof that your pay has not gone below the minimum wage stipulated by the government for your role.

      A breach of any of these conditions will lead to the cancellation of your visa or even forceful removal from New Zealand. You have unlimited stay on the SMC resident visa.

      Our team of legal experts can help you obtain an resident visa for NZ. Contact Us

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        How Can We Help?

        It is common to find people who shy away from applying for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident visa. This is because the application process is tedious and requires meticulous attention. A simple error could lead to visa denial, even after the resources and time spent on the application. To prevent this, get in touch with us. At Total Law, we do the worrying and shoulder the stress of the application for you. We have experienced immigration specialists who are experts in New Zealand immigration and employment laws. We can assess your eligibility, gather your supporting documents and even make the application on your behalf. By entrusting us with your application, you save time and resources you’d have otherwise spent on re-application. If you want to make your New Zealand dreams come true or want to learn more about our services, call 0333 305 9375 or send us a message online.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  It takes the Immigration Office of New Zealand 3 months to process your Skilled Migrant Category Resident visa. Wait time could be longer if there are workloads or errors in your application.

                  The IELTS requirement for a Skilled Migrant Category Resident visa is an overall score of 6.5 in the academic or general module. Your dependents must score at least 5 overall on the general or academic module.