New Zealand Skilled Migrant Visa. The requirements, cost and time.

Roberto Efflandrin

The New Zealand (NZ) border has reopened and is welcoming everyone back again. In particular, the NZ government has restarted processing backlogged Skilled Migrant Worker Category visas. This visa is for foreigners who possess certain skills that can play a part in fostering NZ economic growth.

Visa applications can be complicated, so this article is designed to answer some of the most important questions when it comes to applying for the skilled migrant visa in New Zealand.

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What is a skilled migrant category visa in NZ

The skilled migrant category visa is targeted towards foreign nationals who have essential skills that can contribute to NZ economic growth. If this visa is granted, foreign nationals can live, work or study in NZ.¹

Main benefits provided by this visa type

The main benefit of the skilled migrant visa is that applicants will be able to live in New Zealand indefinitely upon its approval. Another benefit is that spouses and children under the age of 24 can be included in the application process to be granted a visa to move with you.¹

Requirements for a skilled migrant visa in New Zealand

Below we’ll briefly discuss the type of skills that are accepted and some general eligibility requirements for applicants.

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What types of skills are accepted for this visa?

To meet one of the main eligibility requirements for the skills migrant visa, you’ll need to have a skill that is listed on the “skills shortage” list or prove that your skills are considered an exception. There are two ways to check if your skills are required in New Zealand.

The first is to check if your job role and qualifications appear on one of the following three category lists.²

Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL)

Long term skills are any skills identified as being in a shortage globally, as well as in NZ. The full list can be found here.

Regional Skill Shortage List (RSSL)

If you don’t have any skills on the LTSSL and don’t mind where you move to in NZ, you may find your skills fit a position on the RSSL. This list is NZ specific and seeks to find jobs that are in shortage across different regions of NZ. The list can be found here.

Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List (CISSL)

There are various skills that fall within the construction industry that are considered in a critical shortage in NZ. The list is available here.

Classification for skills and exceptions

If your skills aren’t on the lists, they might be treated as an exception if they meet certain minimum pay requirements and the ANZSCO classification

The skills lists are intermittently updated every few years, so even if your skills aren't currently listed, they may be in future.

Read more: New Zealand partner visa

Eligibility requirements

For your skills to matter, the first eligibility requirement is that you have a job offer from a NZ employer.

From there your application will be judged based on a points system. You will need to prove several basic eligibility requirements when submitting an expression of interest (EOI) for the visa. You must³:

  • Be aged 55 or under
  • Have a recognised qualification
  • Meet a certain level of English language
  • Have skilled work experience
  • Meet some health requirements⁴

Each requirement is worth a different number of points and will be judged formally by an immigration officer. At the moment, your EOI with the above requirements must meet at least a minimum of 160 points to be invited to apply.

How to apply for a skilled migrant Visa for New Zealand

Unfortunately the first step of sending through an expression of interest (EOI) online or in person is suspended until further notice. However, once it is up and running again, you can apply for a skilled migrant visa by following these steps if your EOI is approved.⁵

  1. Fill out the dedicated “'Application for Residence under the Skilled Migrant Category” form
  2. Provide documents that prove all claims in the EOI on skills, education, health, character and English speaking ability
  3. Get your employer to fill out the “Employer Supplementary” form

You may be asked to provide more documents in some instances or might be invited to an interview after you’ve supplied the above.

Read more: New Zealand working holiday visa. The lowdown.

Application costs and fees.

As the visa application is a two stage process, starting with your Expression of Interest, the initial fees you pay will depend on whether you submit the EOI **online **or via paper submission.

The NZ immigration website allows you to pre-check how much your application will cost by the company you apply from. Using Portugal as an example, the fees to submit the two stage application is as follows.⁶

Online EOI submission

  • Stage one EOI online submission will cost $590NZD
  • If approved, the second stage application will cost $4890NZD

Paper EOI submission

  • Paper version EOI submissions cost $710NZD
  • Similarly, the second stage application will cost a further $4890NZD

If the application is rejected at any stage, there are no refunds of the costs.

How to pay for your visa application.

To pay the application costs, you can use a debit or credit card. If you need an easy way to pay for your application in NZD, you can use Wise to make sure you get the best rate on conversions when paying fees internationally.⁶


Decision times needed to process and get a skilled migrant visa

Using Portugal again as the sample application country and passport , processing times begin with a 2 week selection window for EOI. If an applicant's EOI is selected and accepted, an invitation to apply for the skilled migrant visa will ensue within 3 weeks. Upon the invitation applicants will need to provide all application documents within 4 months. About 90% of applicants will then be processed within 47 months from submitting their full visa application.⁵

Visa and immigration contact details

If you are in the midst of completing an application, you can check which is the best contact method for your issue here.

To contact NZ immigration directly, you can call 0508 558 855 from within NZ or +649 914 4100 from overseas.

FAQ about the skilled migrant visa

Here we’ll answer some extra relevant questions that may help you prior and during your visa application process for the NZ skilled migrant visa. .

How long is this visa valid for?

If approved, this visa is valid indefinitely unless you lose your job and do not find new employment in 3 months.⁷

Can my children/family apply for this visa with me?

Your partner and all children under the age of 24 can be included in your visa application. This means they can travel with you to NZ.¹

What are my obligations to be eligible to obtain this visa?

You must make sure you disclose all required information when applying for any visa.

Can I travel out of and back into New Zealand with this visa?

Yes, you can leave and return to New Zealand freely on this visa for the first 2 years since you first arrive in NZ, then you must apply and be granted extended travel conditions or a permanent resident visa.⁸

Wrapping up

Applying for the skilled migrant visa in New Zealand can be a lengthy and complicated process. Moving abroad can also become costly if you don’t have a cheap and easy way to pay for administrative costs, travelling, moving and converting currencies to and fro.

With Wise, you can send and receive money internationally with no hidden fees. You don’t have to worry about poor exchange rates either, because your money is exchanged using the real exchange rate, just like you see on Google.

If you choose to open a Wise Multi currency account, you can convert and hold 53 different currencies through a single account. You can also get local account details for 9 different currencies, including NZD, that enable you to transact like a local.

If you’re intrigued, take a look at Wise for yourself - you might just find it’s the answer to your foreign currency exchange needs.

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Best wishes for your visa application.


  1. NZ Immigration skilled migrant visa info
  2. NZ Immigration eligible skills
  3. NZ immigration point system for eligibility
  4. NZ immigration health requirement
  5. NZ immigration process and timeframes
  6. NZ Immigration visa fees
  7. NZ immigration visa validity conditions
  8. NZ Immigration travel conditions

Sources checked on: 09 August 2022

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