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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Skill Migrant Application to New Zealand: General information, Auckland

A mate emailed this information to me and hope it will be helpful to those who needs it. Any way, please double check with the New Zealand Immigration Website on the latest news annoucement and skilled migration points.

1. Do a "quick check" and test your points for the Expression of Interest (EOI).

You need at least 100 points to apply, but criteria can change at any time. Currently, you also need a job offer, unless you have 125 points or more. 140 is the "magic number" for automatic selection, under the current set of criteria. Big changes may be in the works, for better or worse...

2. Submit your EOI, either online or with a paper form. It's best to do this online at the immigration website, because the fee is lower ($300 NZD). You need a credit card to do it online. Your partner and dependent children can "tag along" on the application, so only one person's points are considered.
The first step to submitting online is to register with "online services," which will create sort of a personal immigration homepage:

3. Your EOI is added to the "pool" of applicants, unless you messed up and misunderstood your eligibility. The EOI stays in the pool for up to six months. Your EOI can be selected at any time during these six months - there are selections made twice a month.

4. Once your EOI is selected, there is a preliminary verification process. I'm not sure what this entails, probably some kind of basic fraud screening. Once this is complete, you will see "Decision Successful" on your immigration home page (the one you created when you registered with online services). This can take 9-12 weeks or more? Seems to depend on which office is dealing with your EOI and how backlogged they are.

5. After the verification process for the EOI results in "Decision Successful," you will be mailed an "Invitation to Apply" packet (ITA), which is the actual application for residence.

6. You have up to 4 months to gather all the documentation needed to back up the info in your EOI, prove that you meet health and character standards (that is, not a burden to their health care system, and not a criminal) and turn in your application, along with another fee. Here's the checklist:

The fee depends on where you are located, and your nationality.

Many people advise getting your police check underway the moment your EOI is selected from the pool, as this can take months to process. Seek advice on your specific situation to find out what documentation you need (medicals, proof of qualifications, etc) well in advance so you don't miss your ITA deadline.

7. Once your ITA has been received, you will be assigned a Case Officer (CO). Some people report waiting weeks before hearing from their CO. They will schedule a telephone interview for a convenient time, so they can get a better idea of how well they think you will settle in. The idea here is to admit migrants who aren't going to realize they made a mistake after only a few months, and fly away home again.

8. The phone interview usually takes place within a month or two of the ITA being accepted, and has been reported to last between 10-60 minutes. The questions vary, but it's supposedly pretty friendly, not like they are trying to grill you. They will ask "Why New Zealand?" and a bunch of things about your plans, whether you have any social support in NZ, what you would do if you can't find a job right away, etc etc...

9. If your case officer is satisfied with everything, they will recommend that you be granted Permanant Residence (PR). Then this is approved by someone else I guess? i'm a little foggy on how long this step takes. It probably depends on how high of a priority they think you are. If you have a job offer you are fast-tracked through the entire process, I think?

If you are not granted PR, you may be given an alternative such as "work to residence," or else you will simply be turned down. :-(

10. Once you have PR, you will be issued a Residence Visa, which is valid for 12 months. When you arrive in NZ, your Residence Visa becomes a Residence Permit. You pay the "Migrant Levy" at this point, which is $300 NZD per person, up to $1200 total for a family.

This allows you to stay in NZ indefinitely, HOWEVER it expires if you leave NZ. So, in order to be able to travel, you will need a Returning Resident's Visa. Fortunately, if you have a valid Residence Permit, you are automatically entitled to a Returning Resident's Visa (RRV).

The RRV is good for 2 years. So, theoretically you could get PR, receive your Residence Visa, travel to NZ within 12 months, get your Residence Permit and RRV, then leave NZ right away without losing any of your hard-earned residency rights. The only thing to keep in mind is that once your RRV expires after 2 years, in order to get a new one, you have to prove some kind of commitment to NZ. The easiest way to prove this is having been in NZ for 184 days out of EACH of the 2 years. There are other ways to prove a commitment to NZ as well...

11. Once you are in NZ with PR, you have all kinds of rights, even voting and health care. So, it doesn't seem quite so bad that you have to be in NZ for 5 years before applying for citizenship :-)

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