By Hannah McCarthy
5 January 2024
Skilled Migrant Category Interim (SMC) Visas may be right for some, but they are not suitable for every migrant worker waiting for their SMC Resident Visa.
This interim SMC visa may be issued for up to 24 months while a migrant’s resident visa application is being considered. However, as explained in this article an SMC Interim Visa’s range of restrictions and pitfalls has drawbacks for some people.
To be eligible for an SMC Interim Visa, a migrant:
An SMC Interim Visa cannot be applied for, nor is an applicant guaranteed to receive one. Granted at the absolute discretion of Immigration New Zealand (INZ), there is also no right of appeal against a decision not to grant an SMC Interim Visa.
From our experience many migrants assume that they receive an interim visa and don’t consider their options. This is where migrants can encounter complications and can get into trouble. Migrants need to be cautious if they are relying on receiving an SMC Interim Visa as it may not be granted if, the migrant:
If granted, an SMC Interim Visa is valid for up to 24 months and has multiple entry travel conditions. This means that, generally, migrants can travel outside New Zealand and return while holding an SMC Interim Visa. However, since an SMC Interim Visa’s expiry date depends on the outcome of an SMC application, if a migrant is outside of New Zealand when their SMC application is refused, they would have a limited time to return to New Zealand. This can create unforeseen difficulties for many migrants.
It’s important for migrants to understand that an SMC Interim Visa will expire or be cancelled:
A holder of an SMC Interim Visa is unable to apply for a visa of any other class or type. If an SMC Resident Visa application is declined or withdrawn, SMC Interim Visa holders will either need to leave New Zealand before their interim visa expires or risk becoming unlawful.
Further restrictions that can create significant problems for migrants include:
We recommend that migrants carefully consider all their options before they go down the path of holding an SMC Interim Visa.
Pitt & Moore can assist with SMC Resident Visa applications as well as advise on risks associated with an SMC Interim Visa in your circumstance. If you have any questions about the SMC Interim Visa do not hesitate to contact us on 03 548 8349.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.