Jun 21, 2023

Important Immigration Update: Changes to the Skilled Migrant Category and update to AEWV

The New Zealand Government has just announced changes to the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa (SMC) and the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV).

Starting 9th October 2023, a new simplified points system will be introduced, streamlining the process and providing a faster route to residence for individuals in high-skilled roles. It will also offer a clear pathway to residency for those who work in New Zealand for a specified period.

These changes are designed to bring certainty to both visa holders and employers, empowering them to make informed decisions about who can come to New Zealand for temporary work and who can potentially stay permanently. The revamped SMC aligns with the Green List and Sector Agreement residence pathways, offering diverse residence options based on job, qualification, or wage.

Effective 9 October 2023 Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa applicants must have —

  • A job offer or current employment in a role that pays at least the median wage for occupations classified at ANZSCO skill level 1-3.
  • For occupations classified at ANZSCO skill level 4-5, the minimum requirement is 1.5 times the median wage.
  • Applicants need to accumulate six points to be eligible. These points can be earned through New Zealand occupational registration, recognised qualifications, income, and one point per year of work in a New Zealand skilled job, up to a maximum of three points.

It is important to note that the age limit, English language proficiency, health, and character requirements for residence applications remain unchanged. However, the Highly Paid Residence Visa will now be incorporated into the SMC, eliminating the need for a separate category.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) aims to process SMC applications, provided they contain all the required information, within six to eight weeks. There will be no cap on the number of individuals who can gain residence if they meet the skills threshold. This ensures an efficient and transparent process, allowing qualified individuals to smoothly transition to permanent residency.

Update to Accredited Employer Work Visa —

  • The New Zealand government is introducing a maximum continuous stay of 5 years on an AEWV, for anyone who is unable to demonstrate that they are on a pathway to residence. People will need to spend 12 months outside of NZ to be eligible to apply for a further AEWV. For employers, this means that renewing visas will no longer be a sustainable ongoing strategy and rather, employers will need to turn their focus to actively supporting workers with a residency pathway in order to retain international staff. Get in touch to see how we can help you plan ahead.
  • From November 2023, the maximum duration of an AEWV will be extended from 3 years to 5 years to align with the introduction of the 5-year maximum continuous stay for AEWV holders.

We are here to help you navigate the updates. To assess staff visa eligibility or learn more about the new Skilled Migrant Category, get in touch, Together, we can support your employees on their journey to making New Zealand their permanent home.

How we can help —

For detailed information about how these changes affect your employees and your business, please reach out to our team. We are here to assist you and provide expert, comprehensive guidance.


Hamneet Jaggi
Corporate Services Manager – Visas
IAA License #201500559

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