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

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

Applications that do not meet the criteria for prioritisation are processed in the order they are received.

As of 19 July 2021, Immigration New Zealand is allocating:

  • general SMC and RfW queue for applications inside New Zealand received from 29 October 2019, and
  • prioritised SMC and RfW applications within 2 weeks of the application joining the priority queue.

The number of applications allocated each week may be affected by a number of factors, including reduced processing capacity.

Watch a video about the application process

Number of skilled residence applications allocated (updated fortnightly)

Allocations occur weekly. This table shows weekly allocations combined into fortnightly periods.

Fortnight ending Priority queue General queue
1 March 2021 56 79
15 March 2021 125 49
29 March 2021 42 198
12 April 2021 84 51
26 April 2021 124 43
10 May 2021 110 129
24 May 2021 124 298
7 June 2021 117 320
21 June 2021 117 421
5 July 2021 95 178
19 July 2021 68 79


For further information about the number of unallocated skilled residence applications on hand in the onshore general queue:

Skilled residence queue factsheet PDF 362KB

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