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Due to the increased interest in relocating to New Zealand, Immigration New Zealand has seen a record high in new migrants and working visa approvals. Today the New Zealand government have announced immigration changes. They plan to reduce the number of migrants receiving residency to the country over the next two years. They have announced changes to the Skilled Migrant Category and the Parent Category within the New Zealand Residence Programme.

About the Skilled Migrant Category visa

The Skilled Migrant Category is a points based residence policy for anyone who would like to permanently reside in New Zealand. To apply under this visa you must first put in an Expression of Interest (EOI) to Immigration New Zealand. Through this you claim points for factors such as qualifications and work experience. Immigration will then hold a fortnightly draw selecting EOIs who have totalled enough points for the entry requirements. There is also a minimum criteria regarding health, character and English language.

The announced changes

  • The points threshold you need to reach has increased from 140 to 160 as of October 12th 2016.
  • The evidence needed to show an applicant meets the minimum standard of English language has changed.

Changes to the English language requirements

Under the Skilled Migrant Category applicants must have an overall score of 6.5 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). However immigration officers can consider a variety of alternate pieces of evidence instead. Immigration New Zealand has outlined the following alternatives that can be accepted from October 12th 2016:

  • Citizenship of Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the UK, or USA provided the applicant has spent at least five years in work or education in one or more of those countries or Australia or New Zealand
  • A recognized qualification comparable to a NZ level 7 bachelor’s degree either gained in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the UK or USA as a result of study undertaken for at least two academic years in one or more of these countries
  • A recognised qualification comparable to a New Zealand qualification at level 8 or above gained in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the UK, USA as a result of study undertaken for at least one academic year in one or more of these countries

Additional tests to be added this year

Please be aware that from November 21st 2016 a wider range of tests will be accepted. The additional tests will be:

  • Test of English as a foreign Language internet Based test (TOEFL iBT)
  • Occupational English Test (OET)
  • Cambridge English: First (FCE) and FCE for Schools
  • Pearson Test of English: Academic (PTE: Academic)

Immigration New Zealand state that they will be changing the requirements to aid clarity to the assessment process. So that applicants English language can be assessed earlier. Also to ensure a consistency in the level of English language that approved residence will have,

It is also worth being aware that the new immigration changes will apply to your partner and any dependent children over the age of 16. If they do not meet the minimum requirements for English language you will be required to pre-purchase English tuition.

The Parent Category is temporarily closed

Until further notice Immigration New Zealand will not be making selections from this category. This is because the cap of who can apply under the Parent Category has been reduced. There are already sufficient numbers to fill the cap from existing applicants. Immigration New Zealand state that they forsee the Parent Category being closed until after the end of the 2017/18 financial year.


Following the immigration changes click here to find out if you are visa ready.

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