K3 Insights


4 min read - September 01, 2017


In April 2017 a new set of rules were introduced for anyone looking to immigrate under the Skilled Migrant Category. Additionally, the Parent Category was closed due to shifting immigration quotas, changing the landscape for New Zealand immigration as a whole.

Here’s an update of the changes coming into force as of 28 September 2017. By staying in the know, your entry to New Zealand will stay smooth and worry-free – meaning you can get on with organising what’s really important for you and your business.

Why is the Parent Category closed?

Right now, New Zealand is a popular destination and the number of people interested in applying for residence has drastically increased. While in some ways this is positive, it means that the New Zealand Government has had to lower the cap on parents so that the country’s overall yearly residence visa cap of 2,000 isn’t exceeded.

The Parent Category has been closed ‘indefinitely’ since October 2016, when previously the total number of places for the Capped Families category across the 2014/15 and 2015/16 years sat at 11,000 visa approvals. This has decreased to just 4,000 across 2016/17 and 2017/18, meaning there are already more than enough Parent Category applicants in the system awaiting approval.

Immigration NZ has estimated that it’ll take roughly until the end of 2018 to process all the Parent Category applications that are pending. Therefore, an ‘indefinite’ closure and governmental review at the end of 2018 was decided on.

What changes have been made to the Skilled Migrant category?

1) EOI points and English requirements

Because of New Zealand’s increasing popularity as a destination, the popular Skilled Migrant Category requirements have tightened a little too.

Before October 2016, applicants with over 140 points towards their EOI (or ‘Expression of Interest’) were automatically selected for residence and invited to apply. Anyone with 100 – 139 points was also selected if the points were claimed for a recognised New Zealand job offer.

Now, only EOI’s with over 160 points will be selected for resident visas in response to the number of applications already in the system.

New Zealand’s English requirements for migrants have changed too. Prior to October 2016, evidence like a minimum of one year of skilled employment was sufficient proof of ability. Effective 28 August however, applicants must sit the relevant English test and get the corresponding required marks (for example, IELTS with an overall score of 6.5).

Once you’re sure you’ve got enough points towards your EOI, focus on completing any relevant English tests to confirm your eligibility quickly and without hassle.

2) New remuneration thresholds

Remuneration thresholds have been put in place for Skilled Migrant applications too, meaning now your potential capacity to earn matters just as much as your field of work.

For ‘skilled’ jobs - those that call for expertise or qualifications that New Zealand currently lacks – the threshold is set at the NZ median income of $48,859 per year. The ‘unskilled’ jobs threshold is $73,299, which is 1.5 times the NZ median income amount.

While these changes may seem restrictive, they work well for anyone planning to migrate into an ‘unskilled’ but well paying field of work. Prior to October 2016, no one could apply under the Skilled Migrant Category if they weren’t working in one of the specified ‘skilled’ fields. In this way, remuneration thresholds present new opportunities for immigrants with different professions and skill sets.

3) Points system adjustments

In New Zealand, all Skilled Migrant residence applications are points-based. These points can be obtained through relevant qualifications, NZ work experience or a number of other factors mentioned here.

Occasionally this points system is adjusted too, and as of October 2016 three key changes have been made:

  • More points will be awarded to applicants who are between 30 - 39 years of age (although applicants between the ages of 20 - 55 will still be awarded a set amount of points towards their application too).
  • Applicants with both skilled work experience and recognised post-graduate qualifications will be awarded more points to help them reach the newly increased 160 points target for Skilled Migrants.
  • Now, applicants can’t claim any points for qualifications in Areas of Absolute Skills Shortage, for employment, work experience and qualifications in Identified Future Growth Areas or for close family already in New Zealand.

At first glance immigrating to a new country can seem challenging, but becoming familiar with law changes like these is half the battle. If you’re still unsure about any specifics or interested in learning more, visit New Zealand Immigration online or get in touch with one of our team by filling in the form below.

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