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Home > Immigration News > Immigration Update: New Zealand – Changes to the New Zealand Residence Programme, Skilled Migrant and Parent Categories

Immigration Update: New Zealand – Changes to the New Zealand Residence Programme, Skilled Migrant and Parent Categories

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14 OCTOBER 2016

Skilled Migrant Category (SMC)


The SMC is a points-based residence policy for people who wish to live permanently in New Zealand.  Applicants claim points for factors such as their age, skilled employment, job offer, recognised qualifications and so forth.  Applying for residence is a two staged process, the first step involves lodging an Expression of Interest (EOI).  All EOI’s submitted go into a Pool and Immigration New Zealand (INZ) does a fortnightly draw selecting those EOI’s that meet the points threshold.    Those applicants with sufficient points will be invited to apply for residence.  This constitutes the second stage.

Previously, EOI’s that had a total points of 140 or more would be automatically selected from the Pool.  EOI’s that had a total points of between 100-139 where they claimed points for a New Zealand job offer would also be selected.

English language requirements for SMC

The way that applicants previously showed evidence that they met English language requirements included a recognised qualification where the medium of instruction was English, one year of skilled employment in New Zealand and general evidence such as whether the applicant came from an English speaking country or spoke English at home.


As from 12 October 2016 only EOI’s with 160 points or more will be selected (regardless of whether an applicant has a job offer).

Evidence of meeting English fluency will be limited whether the applicant has a Level 7 or Level 8 recognised qualification gained in an English speaking country or the applicant is a citizen of an English speaking country (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland and United States). If an applicant does not meet any of these criteria they will need to provide an IELTS report with a score of 6.5


These changes will have some impact on the ability of some applicants to claim 160 points.  This is likely to affect students who have completed one year courses and who have no previous work experience.  However, by working longer before they lodge their EOI’s and by obtaining work outside Auckland, they may well still be able to meet the minimum threshold of 160 points. English language testing may well have a greater impact as most applicants previously relied on completing a one year course in New Zealand or being in skilled employment for one year.


Changes to the Parent Category


New Zealand permanent residents are able to, under certain specified circumstances, sponsor their parents for residence.  The parents file an Expression of Interest (EOI) and if they are selected by Immigration New Zealand (INZ), they are then invited to apply for residence.  There is, however, a cap set by the government on the numbers of places available.


The cap set by the government has now been reduced and given that there are already sufficient numbers of applicants in the system who have applied or have been invited to apply for residence, the Parent Category is being temporary closed.


It will take until the end of the 2017/2018 financial year to clear all applications already in the system accordingly no new applications under this Category will be accepted by INZ until after 2018.  Whether this will be a temporary or permanent closure remains to be seen.


New Zealand Contact Details

Isabel Chorao
Immigration Manager, New Zealand
Santa Fe Australia
T: +64 9 363 9591
M: +64 21 472 054
E: [email protected]

Licensed Immigration Adviser No. 201100384

Santa Fe Immigration Services

Plaza Level, AIG Building, 41 Shortland Street, Auckland 1010
(PO Box 4008, Shortland Street, Auckland)



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