resident visa
New Zealand Residency Options

What is a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa?

The Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa (SMC) is a direct pathway to residency for highly skilled individuals. This includes those with professional registrations requiring extensive training, doctorate holders, or individuals earning significantly above the median wage. The visa’s aim is to meet medium-to long-term skill needs that are challenging to fulfill domestically​​.

The New Zealand government has revised the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa with an uncapped, 6-point system designed to streamline the process for skilled migrants.

Effective from October 2023, this system replaces the previous settings, focusing on a clear skills threshold for applicants.

smc point system
Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa

What is the New SMC Points System?

The New Zealand government introduced an uncapped, 6-point system
for the SMC visa in October 2023. This change simplifies the visa process, offering a clear and straightforward path to residency for eligible
skilled migrants​​.

With this visa you can:

  • Apply for residency if you possess high-level skills or qualifications.
  • Have a simplified and more transparent application process.
  • Benefit from a range of criteria to meet the 6-point threshold.

To be eligible for this type of visa, you must:

  • Attain at least 6 points based on income, qualifications, or occupational registration.
  • Meet the standard eligibility requirements for health, character, and English proficiency.
  • Be aware of annual median wage updates which may affect eligibility from February 2024 onwards.

Discuss this residence pathway with our visa specialists today.

Visitor Visas New Zealand

How Does the 6-Point System Work?

The streamlined points system no longer requires 180 points, rather you only need 6 points. You can gain points from one of the below categories (whichever allows you to score the highest number of points):

Income-Based Points

Points are awarded based on income levels in relation to the median wage, enabling skilled individuals in various trades and occupations to qualify​​.

  • Earn 1.5 to 3 times the median wage for 3 to 6 points.
  • Full-time employment with an accredited employer is required.

Occupational Registration Points

Points are given based on the level of occupational training required for registration in New Zealand, acknowledging the skills required to work in specific sectors​​.

  • Claim 3 to 6 points based on the years of training required for your registration in New Zealand.

Qualification-Based Points

Points are allocated based on the level of qualification, with higher education levels receiving more points. This includes an assessment for overseas qualifications to determine their New Zealand equivalent​​.

  • Score between 3 to 6 points based on NZQA equivalency of your highest qualification.
  • Overseas qualifications may need NZQA assessment.

Additional Points

Applicants can claim points from only one of the above categories (income, qualification, or registration) that offer the most points, however, if you have been unable to reach 6 points from the above categories, you can earn points through work experience in New Zealand.

  • Gain 1 point per year of skilled work experience in New Zealand, up to 3 points.
  • Experience must be full-time and meet the wage threshold
Applying for SMC Resident Visa

Application Process for Skilled Migrant Resident Visa

Applying for a Skilled Migrant Resident Visa involves a structured and detailed process, outlined below:

Step 1: Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI)

This involves demonstrating how you meet the eligibility criteria, primarily based on the new points-based system. Your EOI should detail your skills, qualifications, and health, which contribute to your points total.

Step 2: EOI Assessment and Selection

As of October 2023, the minimum points requirement for an EOI to be considered is 6 points. This threshold represents a significant change from the previous requirement of 180 points. Your EOI will be evaluated based on the points you have claimed, either from income, qualifications, occupational registration, or New Zealand work experience.

If your EOI meets the points criteria, it will be selected from a pool of applicants. The selection indicates that you are considered potentially eligible for the visa.

Step 3: Invitation to Apply

Following the selection of your EOI, you will receive an invitation to formally apply for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa. This invitation is an important step, as it allows you to proceed with the actual visa application.

Step 4: Submitting the Visa Application

Upon receiving the invitation, you can submit your visa application. This stage requires you to provide more comprehensive information and documentation to support your eligibility. This may include proof of qualifications, work experience, income, and any other relevant criteria.

Accuracy and completeness of your documentation are crucial. Ensure all information is up-to-date and correctly represents your qualifications, experience, and other relevant details.

Step 5: Processing and Decision

Your application will be thoroughly assessed by Immigration New Zealand. They will review your qualifications, work experience, and other factors to determine your suitability for the visa.

The processing time for applications can vary. As a general guideline, straightforward applications with complete and accurate information are expected to be processed within 6-8 week.

Step 6: Visa Approval and Residency

Once your application is approved, you will be granted the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa. This visa provides a pathway to residency in New Zealand, allowing you to live, work, and study in the country indefinitely.

Immigration chambers team

How Immigration Chambers Can Help

Immigration law can be complex and overwhelming, but here at Immigration Chambers, we’re here to make understanding your options and securing the right visa for your time in New Zealand a lot easier for you.

Our team of immigration specialists include accredited immigration lawyers and licensed immigration advisers who are not only vastly experienced in all manner of immigration law matters but are also well versed in the latest immigration laws and restrictions for New Zealand.

If you want to live and work in New Zealand there are a wide range of options available to you but it’s important that you choose the right option. Mistakes can be costly and time consuming. That’s what we’re here to help you with.

We can assess your situation and application details to ensure you’re submitting the correct information, that you meet the requirements of the skilled migrant category resident visa, as well as ensuring it is the right visa option for you.

We understand immigration matters are overwhelming and stressful, so we’re here to take the hassle out of the process for you.

Why Choose IC Legal for New Zealand Immigration matters?

Here’s why people choose IC Legal for assistance with immigration and visas for New Zealand:

An easier process - New Zealand

We make the process easier

Immigration and visa matters are often complex but we’re here to take the stress and confusion out of the process and ensure that you have the right information for your situation.

Expert Advice - New Zealand

Expert Advice

Our team is made up of qualified immigration experts – both immigration lawyers and immigration advisers. Our knowledge is up-to-date and accurate.

Exceptional Results - New Zealand

Exceptional results

We pride ourselves on being able to advise businesses and individuals on all aspects of immigration law and ensure that our advice leads to successful outcomes.

Clear Communication - New Zealand

Clear communication

We will always keep you up to date with the latest news and any changes to policies and laws that could impact your visa application.

Frequently Asked Questions


Contact us today for an initial enquiry

We are New Zealand’s largest and most experienced team of licensed immigration advisers. Our experts will take away the stress and worry of navigating the complicated world of immigration. All you need to do is get in touch. Our team is on standby, ready to help.

Feedback From Our Clients

To be effective in this age of globalisation your business needs expertise to ensure your employees get the right visa as quickly as possible. We offer a full range of services.

“I would highly recommend Immigration Chambers for its quality service and reasonable fees. I found Shiv and David very cooperative and Proactive. I am very happy with the results I have received for my partnership Visa. The whole process was stress free and very smooth. I wish all the best for the whole team 👍🏻.”
Tenji Dolma
Tenji Dolma
I highly recommend the Immigration Chamber for the quality of their work!! Thanks to Valerie I got my student visa in record time. Her availability, her follow-up and her dedication have made a real difference for me. If I have one more thing to tell you all is that if you have any kinds of request regarding immigration, do not hesitate and contact them!!
Guillaume Mallet
Guillaume Mallet
“I am very grateful to the Immigration Chambers for their help with my difficult case, they did everything professionally, on time and we are happy with the result. Will recommend for sure !)”
Angelika Sigaenko
Angelika Sigaenko
“I highly recommend David and his team. My partner got visa after 2 year waiting. We received PPI, IC helped us solve it. They are very professional and friendly. Excellent service.”
Sammanuel Nguyen
Sammanuel Nguyen
“Our residency has finally been approved recently and it’s a big relief after 26 months waiting in uncertianty. Thanks for the very honest and professional services from Immigration Chambers, especially Wilson, my main contact. He was very caring and guided us through this difficult journey. Really appreciated!”
Jane Guo
Jane Guo