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Skilled Migrant Category (6 points) – What Employers, HR Professionals & Recruiters Should Know

20 July 2023

A new simplified points system will be introduced for the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) Resident Visa on 9 October 2023.

While SMC exists already, the new version is significantly different in its structure and calculation, while some key points remain the same. As an employer, HR professional, or recruiter, you may have several questions about what the new system entails. We’ve addressed the most vital ones here. 

How do applicants become eligible for the new SMC with 6 points? 

They must claim points from at least one section from the blue box below. If they can get all 6 points from here, then they don’t need anything from the red box. However, if they are short of 6 points, the remaining points can come from the red box. Irrespective of where the points are claimed from, they must have a 'skilled' job offer (more on this later) from an Accredited New Zealand employer.  

Maximum points the blue box can give you: 6.  

Maximum points the red box can give you: 3.  

new 6 points Skilled Migrant Category

What are the key differences between the current SMC (180 points) and the new SMC (6 points)? 


What are the similarities between the current SMC (180 points) and the new SMC (6 points)? 

  • The definition of 'skilled' work remains the same. 
  • Median wage thresholds stay. 
  • Must meet the English requirement. 
  • Must meet health and character requirements. 
  • They must be 55 years old or younger to apply. 

When will the new 6-point system come into effect? 

On 9 October 2023. From then on, applicants will need 6 points to apply for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa. 

When does the current 180-point SMC stop? 

At 11:59pm on 15 August 2023. The final Expression of Interest (EOI) selection under the current rules is on 16 August 2023. 

What is the processing timeframe for the new SMC? 

INZ says it aims to decide straightforward SMC applications that have all the required information within 6-8 weeks. 

What will happen to SMCs already submitted under the 180-point rules? 

Nothing; they will continue as normal as per the rules applicable at the time they submitted their Invitation to Apply (ITA). 

Are there any mandatory base requirements for the 6-point SMC? 

Yes, there are age, character, health, and English requirements. Applicants must have a ‘skilled’ job offer from an accredited employer as well.

What exactly is a ‘skilled’ job offer? 

The definition is the same as that under the current 180-point SMC setting. ‘Skilled’ is a relatively complex assessment, but in simple terms, it means an applicant’s role is paid at least:  

1) The median wage for occupations classified at ANZSCO skill level 1-3, or  

2) 1.5x median wage for occupations classified at ANZSCO skill level 4-5.

Applicants must also be suitably qualified for the role through relevant experience or relevant qualifications.  

Is there an age limit? 

Yes, 55 years.  

Do applicants need to have studied in NZ to claim academic qualification points? 

No, they can use their overseas qualification if the equivalency to the required level at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQF) can be established, either through IQA (International Qualification Assessment) or if it's on Appendix 3 (List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment). 

How can applicants figure out if the 180-point system is better for them or the 6-point system? 

It depends on their personal circumstances. There are some key considerations in assessing which one is better for them, such as: 

  • Is their employer accredited? The 6-point SMC requires them to hold a job offer from an accredited employer. 
  • What is their highest qualification? If they are on the lower end of qualifications, the 180-point SMC offers better chances, as the 6-point SMC only recognises a bachelor's degree and higher.  
  • Do they have overseas work experience? The 6-point SMC does not recognise overseas work experience; it only considers NZ-based experience. So, the 180-point SMC may be a better option. 
  • How high is their salary? If they earn more than $88.98/hour (3x the median wage), they are eligible solely on this basis under the 6-point SMC.



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