Purpose of the Skilled Migrant Category consultation

MBIE is seeking feedback to inform further advice to the Government on proposed changes to the Skilled Migrant Category residence visa.

The Skilled Migrant Category has traditionally been New Zealand’s main residence visa category based on skills and employment. Its objective is to support New Zealand’s economic growth by granting residence to people who have skills to fill identified long-term needs, and who can deploy those skills in New Zealand. We are not proposing any changes to this overarching objective.

The Skilled Migrant Category was effectively closed to new applications in April 2020, after the COVID-19 border restrictions were put in place. In the context of the Immigration Rebalance, the Government invited the Minister of Immigration to review the Skilled Migrant Category, to ensure it’s meeting its objectives and to address the issues that were seen pre-COVID.

MBIE is consulting on proposed changes to the Skilled Migrant Category to:

  • ensure the proposed settings are appropriate for the visa category to achieve its objectives;
  • test the clarity and usability of the settings; and
  • understand the impact of the proposed changes on migrants, employers, and communities.

This document provides a commentary on the proposed changes and asks questions to highlight areas on which we are seeking feedback. We also welcome any other feedback on the proposals.

Process and timeline

Following consultation, we will analyse feedback, submissions, and any other evidence before providing further advice to the Government on changes to the category.

The new settings are expected to be considered by the Government in early 2023, after which final decisions will be announced. Subject to the Government’s agreement, the changes are expected to be to be introduced in mid-2023.

What about people wanting to apply for skilled residence now?

On 12 October, the Minister of Immigration announced that the Skilled Migrant Category would reopen under existing settings, to provide a pathway to residence for potential applicants while enabling time to consult on the future settings, make final decisions, and implement them.

Applying for the Skilled Migrant Category under the current settings(external link)  — Immigration New Zealand