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SMC and RFW prioritisation information for applicants

We are making changes to how we process Skilled Migrant Category and Residence from Work Category applications to make the prioritisation process more transparent, and to ensure non-priority applications continue to be assessed.

Why we are changing the process

Since mid-2018, we have prioritised allocation of Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) and Residence from Work (RFW)  applications where the principal applicant:

  • works in an occupation requiring registration
  • earned at least twice the median wage, or
  • applied for a Talent (Accredited Employer) Resident Visa

Allocation is when an application is given to an immigration officer officer to assess. After we receive an application, the application usually waits in a queue until an immigration officer is available to assess it.

Over the past 18 months we have received a large number of SMC and RFW applications. This has resulted in an increase in visa processing times as applications take longer to be allocated to an immigration officer for assessment. For example, in the 3 months to 1 February 2019, 90 percent of SMC applications were completed within 9 months. In the 3 months to 1 February 2020, 90% of SMC applications were completed within 15 months.

Recently we have received enough applications that meet the priority criteria, that other applications were no longer being allocated.

Who will be prioritised

INZ will continue to prioritise people with occupational registration and those earning twice the median wage (currently NZD $51 per hour and NZD $106,080 per year). Due to the volume of applications, from Monday 24 February 2020 applicants under the Talent (Accredited Employer) resident visa category will no longer be prioritised, unless they are either highly paid, or in an occupation requiring registration.

What this means for SMC and RFW applicants

This decision means we will:

  • be able to resume allocating applications from the general queue (that do not meet the priority criteria)
  • process the same number of resident visa applications as in previous years
  • continue to prioritise people who are in New Zealand and:
    • have occupational registration, or
    • earn twice the median wage (currently NZD $51 an hour or NZD $106,080 a year)
  • no longer prioritise applicants for Talent (Accredited Employer) Resident Visas unless they are either highly paid, or in an occupation requiring registration.

Applicants for SMC and RFW visas who are in New Zealand must remain on valid temporary visas while their resident visas are being processed. For some resident visa applicants this means you must apply for a further temporary visa while your resident visa is either queued, or being actively assessed by an immigration officer.

SMC and RFW processing times