Immigrating into an English speaking country has always been a tricky challenge, especially for people for whom English is not their native language. However, successfully immigrating allows people to create a new life. For educated, young people who are fluent in English, New Zealand has a Skilled Migrant Visa program which encourages immigration of people with appropriate skills.
The first step to immigrating to New Zealand is to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) with a score of 160 points. Once your application has been selected, you will still need to verify that you are acceptably in good health, of good character, under 56 years old, proficient in English, and without a criminal background. After fulfilling these requirements, applicants should be granted a visa to enter New Zealand.
Understanding the EOI is essential to progressing to the second stage which involves the multiple verifications listed above. Without both parts being completed successfully, no applicant will get a visa. Here, both sections will be broken down individually, to better explain the process. However, this article is only meant to provide general knowledge about the application process; for detailed advice about applying for a Skilled Migrant Visa into New Zealand, please consult an immigration attorney who specializes in New Zealand law.
Overview of the EOI and Additional Verifications
The EOI is further broken up into four sections: skilled employment, skilled work experience, recognised qualifications, and age. Aside from age, all of these sections also contain bonus points. As previously stated, the additional verifications include health status, character references, verifying your age, and English skills. As the EOI needs to be completed prior to verifying anything, this article will start there.
Skilled Employment Points This section is based on whether the applicant has skills which are valuable to New Zealand. The first 30 points in this section are earned by either having current employment or an offer of skilled employment in New Zealand, where skilled employment is defined based on ANZSCO occupation skills and compensation level. The offer also needs to be for at least 30 hours a week, paid by salary or wages with a contract for service, and, if there is an offer from a company in New Zealand, must be for at least a year from an employer that is financially solvent.
An additional 80 points can also be earned in this section if you have a job or skill that is particularly valuable to New Zealand. There is a list, called the Long Term Skill Shortage List, which is regularly updated by the Government of New Zealand. If you are employed or have a job offer for a job on that list, it can earn you an additional 10 points. If you have a job offer from a company which want to employ you outside of Auckland, this will earn you 30 points. Being married with a spouse who has a job offer earns you another 20 points. The last set of 20 bonus points is for people who have skilled employment that is paid above NZ$46.98 per hour, as per 2017.
Unfortunately, it is not easy to earn points in this section as most of the points here require the applicant to already have a job offer. In fact, this is somewhat of a Catch 22, as it is hard to get a job offer without first being in New Zealand.
Skilled Work Experience Points
The basic points in this section are very simple. For every 2 years of experience working in a skilled job, applicants are awarded 10 points, up to a maximum of 50 points. This means that if you have 6 years of experience working in a skilled job, you will earn 30 points on the application. Bonus points, up to 15, can be earned for having prior work experience in an area which is considered to have a skilled shortage. No points are awarded for less than two years of experience, 10 points are awarded for 2-5 years of experience, and 15 points are awarded for 6 or more years of experience. If you have spent a year or longer working in New Zealand, this section will also award an additional 10 points.
Recognized Qualification Points
In short, this section earns you points for your level of education. Your degree is assessed based on four possibilities: being on a list of exempt qualifications, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority has assessed it, the New Zealand registration authority has declared it equivalent to a degree on the list of exemptions, or it is a Washington Accord or Sydney Accord accredited undergraduate degree. Based on the results of the assessment, degrees are assigned 0, 40, 50, or 70 points. Only the highest degree is assessed and awarded points. In other words, multiple degrees are not cumulative.
This is one of the trickiest areas to project how many points an applicant will get. In general, bachelor degrees earn 50 points while doctorates earn 70 points. Masters degrees can earn either 50 or 70 points. However, getting these points requires that the degree comes from an acceptable university in a specific year. Because calculating this section is so complicated, talking to an immigration attorney who specializes in New Zealand law is highly recommended.
The bonus points in this section are obtained by either having studied in New Zealand or having a partner with a qualifying degree. Spending two years on a bachelor's degree in New Zealand earns you 10 bonus points, as does spending a year on a post-graduate degree. Two years working on a post-graduate degree in New Zealand earns applicants 15 bonus points. Having a spouse with a recognized bachelor's degree will usually add 10 points, while a doctorate will generally earn 20 points. As with the basic points, having a spouse with a masters degree will earn either 10 or 20 points, depending on which school it comes from and when.
Surprisingly, this section can make or break an EOI. Any applicant over the age of 55 is automatically rejected, no matter how many other points they have accumulated on their EOI. From there, people who are 20-39 get 30 points, 40-44 get 20 points, 45-49 get 10 points, and people aged 50-55 get 5 points.
Summary of EOI
Be digilant with the details on your EOI, as New Zealand immigration experts suspect that over 50% of self-assessments are incorrect. Many applicants overestimate the number of points they can claim, especially in the areas of work experience, recognized qualifications, and job offers. As one can tell, most of the points in the EOI are fixed: applicants either have the degrees, age, and job experience necessary to get a score above 160, or they do not.
Unfortunately, passing the character requirements is also largely out of the applicant's hands. This process involves the government of New Zealand looking into your background to ensure you do not have a criminal history, prior deportations, or terrorist connections. To assist in this process, you will be asked to provide police certificates from your country of citizenship and any other country you have lived in for at least 12 months in the past 10 years. Keep in mind that the one-year period does not need to be consecutive, so if you visit another country regularly on vacation or for work, you may need to acquire a certificate from there. Besides being judicious with social media use, there is little that can be done to affect this portion of the process.
However, the other additional verifications are more malleable as people can work on improving their health and their English skills. This is what the remainder of this article will be about.
Before anyone is allowed to immigrate to New Zealand, they need a doctor to assert that they are generally fit and will not be a burden on New Zealand's healthcare system. While any doctor who has an annual practising certificate issued by the New Zealand Medical Council can provide this, most people go to one of a limited number of doctors overseas who can also sign these forms. Once an appointment with a qualified doctor has been made, they will need to perform a physical exam and order some simple tests, including a chest x-ray. Once they are satisfied as to you and any accompanying family members are healthy, they will sign the necessary forms. These are only valid for three months from the time they are signed, so consider getting the other sections verified first!
Of all the areas that are examined in order to receive a Skilled Migrant Visa for New Zealand, this area is the most controllable. One of the easiest ways to pass this requirement is to already be a citizen of a native English speaking country, such as Canada, Ireland, the United States, or Great Britain, and to have spent at least 5 years either working or studying in that country. Alternatively, earning a bachelor's degree equivalent or higher in any of those countries also fulfills these qualifications.
However, for applications who have not had one of those opportunities, New Zealand requires they pass an English test. They accept a broad range of English fluency tests, all of which have listening, reading, writing and speaking components. For the International English Language testing System (IELTS), they accept either the General or Academic Module with an overall score of 6.5 or greater. Other accepted tests include the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOFEL) Internet-based Test with an overall score of 79 or greater, the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic with an overall score of 58 or greater, the Cambridge English: First (FCE) or FCE for Schools with an overall score of 176 or greater, or the Occupational English Test (OET) with at least a B in all areas.
Additionally, spouses and other family members older than 16 must also meet English fluency requirements. If they are not citizens of a native English speaking country and have not been educated there, they must also take an English test. However, the required scores are slightly lower than they are for the primary applicant. Namely, they accept an IELTS, either General or Academic, with an overall score of 5 or greater. Other accepted tests include the internet-based TOFEL with an overall score of 35 or greater, the PTE Academic with an overall score of 36 or greater, the FCE or FCE for Schools with an overall score of 154 or greater, or the OET with at least a C in all areas. Without meeting one of the English qualifications, you or your loved one will not be granted a visa to immigrate to New Zealand.
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