Changes to Skilled Migrant Category to benefit NZ employers

23 December 2005


A change to the way skilled migrants are selected will target top quality migrants and will increase the benefits to New Zealand employers, Immigration Minister David Cunliffe said 21 Dec.

"New Zealand is an attractive destination for skilled migrants. Demand is high for places in our residence categories. We can afford to be more selective to target the top talent, and those with job offers in areas of skill shortage," Mr Cunliffe said.

Since its introduction in 2003, the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) has focused on targeting migrants that New Zealand needs in a tight labour market.

The new SMC selection process will further meet the needs of New Zealand businesses by prioritising highly skilled migrants and those with jobs or job offers in New Zealand.

Applicants will continue to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) for residence and gain points for their skills, qualifications, experience and other indicators of their ability to contribute to New Zealand. Previously, the EOIs were then ranked and applicants meeting the set selection point were invited to apply for residence. Since September 2004 the set selection point has remained at 100.

Under the new selection process, highly talented migrants who score 140 points and above on their EOI will automatically be selected from the pool.

Applicants who score between 100 and 140 points and have a New Zealand job or job offer will be ranked and selected in sufficient numbers to meet the annual quota of skilled migrants.

If enough places are available, other EOIs may be selected on the basis of specific criteria which the Minister of Immigration will set every six months.

"This flexibility will enable us to keep tailoring the category to meet employers' needs, while taking into account the suitability of applicants.

"Migrants that can prove employers want to hire them to fill vacancies are the ones New Zealand needs. The new process will target these people. In a tight labour market we need to select people that can make an immediate and substantial difference to the growth of New Zealand," Mr Cunliffe said.

"Due to high demand for places under the SMC, an additional 3000 places will be available over the next two financial years for skilled migrants with job offers. Some repriorisation within the existing residence programme will also free up additional places for migrants with job offers.

"While pressure is easing on employers, the labour market remains tight and skill shortages are still acute. The increase of new migrants to fill job vacancies will help employers needing to recruit skilled workers from overseas for their business growth," Mr Cunliffe said.

The new selection policy takes effect after today's EOI selection. All EOIs received after this time will be selected on the basis of the new policy.