Immigration New Zealand’s recent change to increase the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) passmark to 160 points has left many prospective applicants questioning how they will ever meet this new higher passmark. Hairdressers are particularly affected by this change.
There are some 350 hairdressers in New Zealand holding work visas and many of these people will have been planning to obtain New Zealand residence. Although these hairdressers will be able to claim points for skilled employment most will not now be able to reach the 160 points unless they can also claim points for a recognised qualification.
Experienced hairdressers who lack formal qualifications have the option to gain a New Zealand qualification, based on their skills and experience, through the New Zealand Hair and Beauty Industry Training Organisation (HITO). Hairdressers who are favourably assessed by the HITO can be awarded a New Zealand qualification. If this qualification is a level 4 New Zealand Certificate or National Certificate, or a higher qualification, then this qualification can contribute qualification points towards their SMC residence application. This process is called QbyE – qualification by experience.
For migrant hairdressers, gaining a recognised level 4 or higher New Zealand qualification, can contribute 40 points to their SMC points total and this can mean the difference between being eligible to apply for residence or remaining on work visas and having to find another pathway towards residence. For example: a 35-year-old hairdresser with 5 years of experience, who has been working in New Zealand for a year and has employment as a hairdresser outside of Auckland may claim around 125 SMC points (it is possible other points could be claimed). The additional 40 points awarded for a recognised NZ hairdressing qualification would mean this hairdresser would achieve the new SMC points threshold of 160.
Another significant recent change to the SMC policy was the introduction of more stringent English language requirements. Applicants who are not citizens of the UK, Ireland, Canada or USA must now evidence their English by undertaking one of several English language tests available.
More SMC policy changes will be introduced in 2017 which are expected to be increasingly targeted at the skill sets the Government wishes to attract and retain in New Zealand. It is possible these changes may further contribute to the challenges hairdressers face in obtaining residence.
The recent changes to the SMC residence category are indeed “challenging” and this is especially the case for particular employment roles such as hairdressers. While the process to obtain New Zealand residence has become more difficult this goal is still possible if hairdressers are able to claim SMC qualification points and can meet the English standard. However they and their employers will need to be proactive in this endeavour as the current opportunity may not be available from around mid-2017 when the further significant SMC policy changes are due to be introduced.
For expert immigration advice contact a Pathways Licenced Immigration Adviser.