Changes to New Zealand Skilled Migrant Category

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Some changes to New Zealand's Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) immigration scheme will become effective on 04 February 2008.

The changes affect how New Zealand assesses whether an applicant's current job in New Zealand or their job offer, if they are applying from outside New Zealand, is considered 'skilled employment'. Immigration authorities will also adjust which qualifications are eligible for points under the SMC.

The New Zealand SMC is a points based system that allows a person to apply for immigration if they score at least 100 points. Applicants with at least 100 points are entered into a pool of potential migrants.

Every fortnight, immigration authorities select individuals from this pool. Those with at least 140 points are automatically selected. Those who score between 100 and 140 points and are either currently employed in New Zealand or have a valid job offer in New Zealand are also selected, until the quota is reached for that selection round.

Skilled Employment

From 04 February 2008, New Zealand will use the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) as the basis for assessing whether an applicant's job or job offer is skilled employment. The ANZSCO is a list of occupations with a description of the core tasks involved for each job, the work experience needed for a person to do the job, and a numerical 'skill level'. The skill level is scored between 1 and 5, with 1 being the highest.

New Zealand immigration authorities will consider skill levels 1 through 3 as 'skilled employment'. Applicants will be required to show that their job offer is consistent with ANZSCO's description of the occupation, and that they have the requisite qualifications and/or work experience needed to perform the job. In some cases, there will be a minimum salary requirement.

Recognized Qualifications

New Zealand awards points for qualifications based on the NZQA's 'Register of Quality Assured Qualifications'. Qualifications are ranked from 1 (Certificates) to 10 (Doctorates).

From 04 February 2008, qualifications at level 4 (certificates for specified acceptable trades) will only earn points under the SMC if they are also National Qualifications Framework qualifications or assessed as comparable to a New Zealand National Certificate by the NZQA.

Only some level 3 qualifications listed in the Register of Quality Assured Qualifications as exceptions will be recognized for the award of points.