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

Latest news

Immigration policy updates – September 2023

As of 23 September 2023, this category is closed to new applicants. Anyone already on a Recovery Visa however, can apply for a three-month extension, allowing them time to transition to longer term work visas if necessary. Get in touch with our team if you need help with this transition – we can advise on the best visa type.

Video update – Median wage increases

The median wage increase that is set to hit in February has triggered alarm for Kiwi employers already dealing with constant changes and updates from government.

Update on Interim Visa conditions

Interim Visas are for current visa holders who have applied for their next required visa, but their current visa expires before the new one has been granted by Immigration New Zealand. The Interim Visa allows the visa holder to remain in New Zealand lawfully. Conditions and work rights of the Interim Visa depend on the original visa type held, and the type of visa they have applied for next.

Staff Wellbeing Meetings and Visa Eligibility Checks

Our team is happy to visit your team for a Wellbeing Meeting. We find employers really benefit from these sessions that keep everyone updated on the immigration settings and explore options to bring family members to New Zealand.

Navigating Immigration New Zealand’s latest announcements

Keeping up to date with INZ’s fast moving policy announcements is crucial for your business planning. Staying on top of these updates will help you understand the impact they may have on your people and help you make informed decisions to enhance your hiring strategies.

News Archive