Skilled Migrant Category and Residence from Work processing times

The Government has postponed a number of visa programmes, including selections for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC).

EOIs for the SMC have been suspended. Immigration New Zealand will focus on processing applications from people who are in New Zealand or those eligible to travel here while border restrictions are in place.

COVID-19: Key update


Some work visa holders currently in New Zealand may be eligible for a new residence visa.

One-off residence visa

Immigration New Zealand is following the Government’s Alert Level 3 guidance. This means most of our staff are continuing to work from home. A limited number of people are in our Alert Level 3 offices, primarily focused on lodgements and paper visa applications. We have allocated some priority applications with the limited resources available. However, no further skilled residence applications will be allocated at this time.

Visa processing for overseas applicants is still on hold.

If you are not a New Zealand citizen or resident you are unlikely to meet the current entry requirements and we cannot give you a visa.

We are prioritising processing SMC and RFW applications if the principal applicant is in New Zealand and:

  • is paid twice the median wage or higher (currently NZD $54 an hour or NZD $112,320 a year), or
  • works in an occupation where registration is required by immigration instructions and holds that registration.

Occupations that require registration

Processing timeframes

As of 11 October 2021, the oldest applications inside New Zealand in the general skilled residence queue were received on 4 November 2019.

The current COVID-19 restrictions impact our ability to process paper applications, as most of our staff processing skilled residence applications are continuing to work from home.

Watch a video about the application process

Total number of skilled residence applications as at 11 October 2021 (updated fortnightly)

Queue Number of applications
General Queue, outside New Zealand 1,460
General Queue, inside New Zealand 11,415
Priority Queue, inside New Zealand 156

For further information about the number of unallocated skilled residence applications on hand in the general queue inside New Zealand and weekly allocation data:

Skilled residence queue factsheet PDF 365KB

Skilled residence queue data is subject to visa processing operations and changes in an applicant’s circumstances including moving between queues.

Applicants will be told when their application is allocated to an immigration officer.

The time taken to assess applications varies considerably. It depends on the quality of the supporting documents and if we need more information or verification.

We cannot confirm when an application will be decided. The immigration officer assessing the application will provide updates as the application is assessed.

How long it takes to process applications