Skilled Migrant Visa

Are you a specialist or highly trained professional? Want to live in New Zealand? You could be eligible for a Skilled Migrant resident visa. This guide explains the application process and what to expect.

What is a Skilled Migrant Visa?

This resident visa category targets those with skills that the government has decided New Zealand needs for economic growth. If you’re granted residency with this visa, you will be able to live, work, and study in New Zealand indefinitely.

Please note: Due to COVID-19, selections for expressions of interest are suspended until further notice. Get the latest updates from Immigration New Zealand’s news centre.

What are the criteria?

Applicants must be 55 years old or under. You may include your partner and dependent children aged 24 and under in your Skilled Migrant Visa application at no additional cost.

Using the EOI form, you’ll provide detailed information about yourself and your family, including age, occupation, qualifications, and English-language skills. Based on your answers, you will be awarded points. You must score a minimum of 160 to be eligible. You may qualify for bonus points if you:

  • have a job offer outside Auckland
  • have a job offer in a needed industry
  • gained your work experience or qualifications in New Zealand
  • have a partner who holds a recognised qualification
  • have a partner who has been made an offer of skilled employment

To find out if your skills are in demand, visit Immigration New Zealand’s Skill Shortage List Checker.

What is the application process and how long does it take?

You may apply online or via post. Before you can apply, you must send Immigration New Zealand an Expression of Interest (EOI), which outlines your employment in New Zealand, your work experience, and your qualifications. Each answer you select will award you a certain number of points, and your total must be at least 160. Before you submit your EOI, do a points self-assessment to see where you stand.

Once you submit your EOI, it goes into a pool of applications awaiting processing. The time it takes to be processed will depend on Immigration New Zealand’s caseload but on average should be no more than 2 weeks.

Your EOI is then scored by INZ. If you score 160 points or more, INZ will complete a preliminary assessment of the information you provided and may invite you to apply for residence.

If you’d like us to evaluate whether you have enough points to qualify for a Skilled Migrant residence visa, contact us.

From the date you receive your Invitation to Apply (ITA), you have 4 months to lodge your residency application. To apply, send your application, supporting documents, and application fees to Immigration New Zealand.

This is when application processing actually starts. How long this takes will depend on many factors but expect at least 18 months, if not 2 years. Please note that this category is currently closed due to COVID-19.

Pro tip: To reduce your processing time, make sure your application is error-free and includes complete information and all documentation as specified by INZ requirements.

How much does the Skilled Migrant Visa application cost?

An online EOI application costs $530. If your EOI is successful, the Skilled Migrant application costs between $2700 and $3480, depending on where you live when you apply: New Zealand, the Pacific, or elsewhere. INZ also charges an $830 levy on every Skilled Migrant Visa application.

For the most current fees information, visit INZ’s Fees Finder.

Application fees, including the levy, are as follows:

  • If you are already based in New Zealand: $2700
  • If you are applying from the Pacific: $2970
  • If you are applying from anywhere else in the world: $3840

Also bear in mind that you will have to pay for medical screenings, police records, and possibly translations. There are no refunds if your application is declined. To confirm current costs, visit INZ’s fee finder.

With the costs being this substantial, it makes sense to get your application checked for eligibility by a professional. NZIL will ensure you have the best chance of success!

When to get help

The Skilled Migrant category produces a significant number of unsuccessful EOIs due to applicants not fully understanding or completing the paperwork. We know that inexperience and incomplete information will lead to a failed application.

Common mistakes applicants make include:

  • Adding points they do not qualify for
  • Incorrectly assessing their jobs or work experience as skilled when they don’t meet the criteria
  • Providing a generic job description that doesn’t adequately explain what their role is in a way that INZ can accept

With so much at stake, why risk getting it wrong by trying to do it yourself?

How we can assist

Our immigration law experts will review your case and offer you a clear pathway, helping you make the right decisions and apply under the correct criteria for the best chance of success.

We provide assistance in building your case and can also help you clarify your application to make it easier for Immigration New Zealand to make a decision about your suitability. Your dream of moving to New Zealand is too important to risk by making mistakes on your application. NZIL will make sure everything is correct and take the stress out of the process.


Want to learn more?

Check out our free guide, How to Get a New Zealand Work Visa.

If you’ve established that you may be eligible to apply for a Skilled Migrant Visa and would like advice on lodging a successful application, get in touch with our team today.

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