In a country growing as quickly as New Zealand, there is an ongoing need for highly skilled and educated workers. As a way of encouraging skilled migrants to make New Zealand their new long term home and place of employment, New Zealand has streamlined the application and acceptance procedures for individuals and families that meet the criteria of the Skilled Migrant Category. To be eligible under the Skilled Migrant Category, you must be between 20 and 55 years of age, meet all health and character requirements, and be proficient in the English language. The process takes four steps, outlined here: Submit an Expression of Interest The first step in applying for a Skilled Migrant visa is submitting what is called an Expression of Interest (EOI). This form determines your suitability in two main areas – general background information and the Skilled Migrant point system – and you will claim points for skills, work experience and other factors. It is recommended that candidates submit their applications online – it’s cheaper, credit card payments can be made securely, and you will be notified as soon as your EOI has been entered into the pool. The first section requires standard immigration information designed to help Immigration New Zealand ensure that you (and any members of your family who may accompany you) are in good health, of good character and that you don’t present a security risk. The EOI pool draw When you send in your EOI it will only be entered into the selection pool if you have a job offer or your points total 100 or more. Applicants with 140 or more points are selected automatically to apply. If there are places remaining, Immigration New Zealand will select as many additional applicants with points of 100 or more as possible during the fortnightly selection. Your partner and children may be included on your EOI form. All information on your Expression of Interest will be verified at this stage; any deliberate omission or misinformation will result in a denial, so be sure the information you provide is accurate. The more training and qualifications you can prove, the more points you will be awarded, including on-the-job experience. If you are a qualified worker in one of New Zealand’s areas of skill shortage, and if you have a job offer or are already working in New Zealand, more points will be added to your score. If you are considered a suitable candidate for a visa based on the EOI criteria, you will be sent an invitation to apply, at which stage you will be required to provide evidence of the claims made in your EOI. Your invitation to apply If you are selected from the EOI pool, you will be sent an official invitation to apply (ITA). At this stage you will have to show proof of all claims made in your EOI, including medical and police checks, proof of English language proficiency, and documentation regarding your skills, education and experience. The application package you receive will include the information you provided it your EOI. It is your responsibility at this stage to verify the accuracy of the information and provide supporting documentation. NB: The date that you make your SMC residence application with Immigration New Zealand determines the policy that your application will be assessed against. Therefore, the policy that was current when you submitted your EOI, or current when your EOI was selected from the pool, is not necessarily the policy that your SMC residence application will be assessed against. Assessment and Approval Once your application has been received, you will be assessed for New Zealand residence. In addition to verifying that you meet all requirements, you will also be assessed on your anticipated ability to settle successfully in New Zealand. At this stage, some candidates may be required to undergo an interview. If you meet the criteria, and you are believed to have the characteristics to settle in and contribute to New Zealand, you will be offered a residence visa or permit. Some candidates will receive a work to residence permit, instead, which will give them nine months to obtain employment, at which time their ability to contribute will have been verified and residence will be approved.