Feb 1, 2023

The skilled migrant pathway has reopened. Do your staff qualify?

The Skilled Migrant Category has reopened! This immigration category reopened on January 18th, with a new point threshold of 180 points, offering a fresh chance for employers to retain skilled staff and for migrants to attain New Zealand residency.

Being able to apply for permanent residency is a significant motivator in a migrants decision to move to New Zealand. For those migrant staff already in your company, it promotes retention as with permanent residency they can truly establish themselves in New Zealand.


  • The Skilled Migrant Category has traditionally been New Zealand’s main residence category which is based on skills and employment. This is another pathway to residence for migrants who may not qualify for the Fast Track or Work to Residence categories.
  • The current point threshold has increased to 180 points and the first selection of Expression of Interest (EOI) for the year was on 18 Jan 2023. This will be followed by a monthly selection on the third Wednesday of each month.
  • To be eligible for SMC residency, an applicant must be paid at least the median wage, which is currently $27.76/hr. This increases to $29.66/hr from 27th February 2023. Residence applicants must meet the median wage requirements when applying for their residence. As a result, employees might request a pay rise to meet the median wage if their pay falls below this threshold. Getting ahead of the increase in February will reduce the need for pay rises for residency eligibility.
  • If you are a business outside of Auckland, your employee can gain an additional 30 bonus points to make up the 180 points for employment outside of Auckland.
  • In 2022 the Government indicated that from middle of this year a new setting for the SMC category will be introduced which adopts a simplified 6-point system. We will hear more on this closer to mid-2023, so you may wish to confirm eligibility under the current policy settings while they are available.
  • The Skilled Migrant Category is an excellent permanent residency option for those roles that are not on the Green List or do not earn twice the median wage. 

Migrant workers are vital contributors to the growth and success of low- to mid-skilled industries in New Zealand.
Get in touch to ensure you’re taking advantage of the reopening of the Skilled Migrant Category and retaining the best staff for your company’s success.


Hamneet Jaggi
Corporate Services Manager – Visas
IAA License #201500559

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