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New Zealand Skilled Migrant Entry Requirements

We came across this useful set of questions and answers pertaining to the latest changes to the New Zealand Residence Programme for the Skilled Migrants.

New Zealand Skilled Migrant Entry Requirements

If you are considering immigrating to New Zealand and applying for residency it is vital that you read this document as your entry requirements will more than likely have changed. This document should give you a good indication of where your application might be lacking. By understanding the changes and ensuring your application is in-line with the new requirements you are less likely to face a negative outcome.

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What is the Skilled Migrant Category and how does it work?

The Skilled Migrant Category is a points-based residence policy, for people who wish to live permanently in New Zealand. A person who wishes to apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category must first put in an Expression of Interest (EOI) to Immigration New Zealand, claiming points for factors like their qualifications, work experience and job offer.

Immigration New Zealand does a fortnightly draw selecting EOIs based on the points claimed, then invites people with sufficient points to apply.

All applicants must meet some minimum criteria, regarding health, character and English language.

What is changing, when?

Two changes to the Skilled Migrant Category have been announced:

• the points threshold for automatic selection has been increased from 140 to 160 from 12 October 2016 (regardless of whether an applicant has a job offer)
• the way applicants show evidence that they meet the minimum standard of English language is changing

What was the situation before?

Previously, all EOIs were selected where the person had claimed:

• 140 points or more
• 100-139 points, where they claimed points for a New Zealand job offer

What are the changes?

From 12 October 2016 only EOIs with 160 points or more will be selected. This will enable the number of Skilled Migrant Category resident visas granted in 2016/17 to remain within the target range.

Why does this have to change?

New Zealand is currently a popular destination, and therefore there is a very high demand for places under the Skilled Migrant Category. To ensure that this demand is managed effectively, the Government has set the total planning range for the Skilled/Business stream of the NZRP across the 2016/17 and 2017/18 years at 50,500–57,500. If INZ was to continue to select EOIs using the same thresholds as previously, more visas would be granted than the target range allows.

How many points do I need for the English language requirement?

The minimum English language requirement for applicants under the Skilled Migrant Category is an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) overall score of 6.5 across the four language domains (reading, writing, listening and speaking).

Who has to do a test?

People who are invited to apply from 12 October onwards will not be able to use the same alternative evidence of English language in place of a test as previously. The evidence that can be accepted in place of a test will be limited to:

• citizenship of Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America provided the applicant has spent at least five years in work or education in one or more of those countries or Australia or New Zealand; or
• a recognised qualification comparable to a New Zealand level 7 bachelor’s degree and gained in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America as a result of study undertaken for at least two academic years in one or more of those countries; or
• a recognised qualification comparable to a New Zealand qualification at level 8 or above and gained in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America as a result of study undertaken for at least one academic year in one or more of those countries.

People invited to apply before 12 October will not be affected and may still use the alternatives previously in place. They only need to provide what Immigration New Zealand has already requested on the invitation to apply.

What kind of tests will Immigration New Zealand accept?

From 21 November 2016, Immigration New Zealand will accept a wider range of English language tests.

The new tests that INZ will accept are:

• Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet Based Test (TOEFL iBT)
• Occupational English Test (OET)
• Cambridge English: First (FCE) and FCE for Schools
• Pearson Test of English: Academic (PTE: Academic)

Do the new English language evidence requirements apply to partners and dependent children?

If you have already been invited to apply, the new English language evidence requirements do not apply to you or your partner or children.

If you are invited to apply after 12 October, the new English language evidence requirements will apply to your partner and any dependent children over the age of 16. If you have claimed points for your partner’s qualifications or work experience, those points will not be awarded unless your partner meets the new evidence requirements.

If your partner or dependent children do not meet the minimum standard, you will be required to pre-purchase English tuition. The amount of tuition fees you will be required to pay depends on their test results.

What if I have already been selected, but I haven’t been sent an invitation to apply yet?

If you have already been selected your application will be assessed on the basis of the points threshold for selection on the date that your EOI was selected from the Pool. However, if you have not been invited to apply on or before 11 October, you will need to meet the new requirements for evidence of English language.

What if I’ve already been invited to apply?

If you’ve already received a letter inviting you to apply and setting out the documents you need to provide, you just need to follow the instructions on the letter. The new points threshold and new requirements for English language evidence do not apply to you regardless of the date of your application. You must make your application within the timeframe specified in your invitation letter.

What if I’ve already applied under the Skilled Migrant Category?

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If you’ve already applied, the requirements that were in place on the date you made your application will continue to apply to you. You don’t need to meet the new point threshold and the new requirements for English language evidence do not apply to you.

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