The One-Step Guide to a Declined NZ Skilled Migrant Application

There is a dangerous little question in the Skilled Migrant Residence Expression of Interest online form:

Have you ever been refused a visa/permit for any country including New Zealand?

Answering this wrongly – even by mistake – can on its own wipe out your entire Residence application.  And you won’t find out until months (and thousands of dollars) later.  Here’s how it works.

The Problem

Immigration New Zealand) checks an Expression of Interest (EOI) in a “once over lightly” way.  As far as they’re concerned, it’s there for them to see what points you claim to get if you make a real application.  An EOI is not an application.  If the information on the form looks all right, and you appear to get enough points, they’ll invite you to make the full application.  They charge $510 for the privilege of this quick and snappy review.

Now, imagine that you got a Visitor’s Visa declined 10 or 15 years ago, and you had forgotten about it.  Or you thought it was so long ago that “Surely nobody cares about that now.”  Well, Immigration does.  After you file your Residence application they work through the information in that application (which comes off the EOI) more carefully.  Of course, they also have your full file record which shows exactly what applications you have made – and which ones were declined.  This is when they see that your answer in the EOI is wrong.

The Immigration Act and policy allows them to decline a Residence application solely on the grounds that wrong information was recorded on the EOI, even if the rest of the application is fine.  Now, they can choose not to decline for that reason, but our experience is that they do take this option quite often.  Maybe it gives them an easy way to dispose of one morecase from the pile on their desk.

The Damage

Why is this such a disaster?  Well, one good reason is that if your case is declined for this reason (providing”false or misleading information” or “withholding information”) then you have no right of appeal to the Immigration & Protection Tribunal against the decline.  You must start again.

At a meeting with INZ Management last Friday I put this issue to them and asked why it was so hard for them to just look at someone’s visa record quickly during the EOI check in order to see if the “decline” question has been answered correctly.  After all, it’s information they have immediately to hand.  They would be within their rights to throw out the EOI at that point because of a wrong answer.  At least the person could just file a new one with the right answer the second time.  I didn’t get a clear answer from the managers except that they had had this issue raised a few times recently.  My hope is that eventually they will realise that either they should add an extra step in their EOI checking, or else be more lenient about the way that they decide the subsequent Residence applications.

What is distasteful about the current state of affairs is that if INZ doesn’t check the EOI applicant’s answer, they will then issue an Invitation to Apply for Residence which encourages the person to go to all the effort, and spend the money, to prepare the whole application under a false belief that they have done their EOI correctly.  Remember, that’s $1810 for the Residence fee, and the whole application can be knocked out just because of that one question.  There’s is a saying in English for this – “Money for jam”.  It wouldn’t be so bad, except that there is so little that INZ needs to do in order to find out if that question (and a few others in the same section) has been correctly answered.

A Solution

Obviously, the moral of the story is to think carefully about that questions – and indeed every question – on the EOI to avoid getting into trouble months later.

But what if you just can’t remember?  If you suspect that you did have something declined once in the past, but the details are hazy, then put something down about it.  Even saying that you don’t remember when or what it was is better than declaring nothing.

In this, as in a number of other areas, Immigration usually gets much more bothered about someone giving them bad information than the actual fact or circumstance which has been concealed from them.  On the other hand, the fact may be a tricky one, which needs to be put forward as positively (but realistically) as possible.  That’s where we come in.


About Simon Laurent, Lawyer

Principal of LaurentLaw Barristers & Solicitors. NZ immigration law specialist.
This entry was posted in Immigration Visas and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to The One-Step Guide to a Declined NZ Skilled Migrant Application

  1. Hello Simon, Thank you for this crucial information. Will pass it on. Carole Venecourt


  2. shereen says:

    Hi Simon, Thank you for this knowledgeable information. Shereen


  3. kaijaz says:

    Hello Sir!

    Worthy ready this & very helpful – indeed I have the same scenario.

    My Student Visa for AUSTRALIA was rejected in 1998 and have applied INZ Immigration in 2016 – when I was filling EOI I says “No” on Visa Rejection question (I guess this Qs lasts for 10 years) – but later when I was submitting my ITA application than I realized it & reveal this info as well – and in ITA application there is an “additional supplement paper in last” for ones who want to change answer or update your changed circumstances – in which I updated this and in Cover Letter of application I also mention the reason why I put “NO” during EOI.

    My residence application is still pending – do you think I already made mess during EOI ? no matter if I did the remedy in ITA ? can you enlighten me with your expert opinion on this.



    • On the information you have provided, your Residence application may be all right. Immigration still has the choice whether to decline it because of the information you supplied in the EOI. However, if you tried to fix this in the Residence application then they may do nothing.
      There is still a risk that they will decline the application. If they do, then simply file a new EOI with the right information.


      • kaijaz says:

        Thank You Sir for your time.
        My apology – bothering you again (this time cause of frustration).
        It has been over a month i submitted ITA papers (application fee deducted / and received) and CO has contacted me over email multiple times for asking some documents that are on the different context – does this sounds satisfactory ? I mean if they intent to decline it on said bases – they wont bother to work on my application .. or this will be decided later after all scrutiny process ?

        BR / kaijaz


  4. meliberysa says:


    Thanks for the info.

    My husband is in New Zealand currently and got a job offer.

    He is an electrical fitter which is on the skills shortage list.
    He applied for a skilled migrant visa and it was declined as the immigration office said that the employer did not provide sufficient documents to say that a New Zealand citizen could’ve been employed in his place.

    He phoned the immigration office and they informed him that he should apply for an essential skills visa instead. Is this correct?

    As far as we could tell the employer provided the supplementary form, proof that the correct recruitment processes were followed etc.

    Will he not encounter the same problem with the essential skills visa then?

    Is there any other documents that can be obtained to provide further evidence to assist with this matter?

    Thanks in advance


    • If he meets the criteria for recognition on the Long Term Skills Shortage list then it should not have been necessary for the employer to advertise for a Work Visa. If he does not meet the criteria then the Essential Skills visa is probably the right one, and the issue of recruitment and the labour market will come up again.
      However, there are a number of unknowns with the situation you have described. We will only give further advice directly and not through an online forum like this.


  5. Maan Alombro says:


    If I’ve been denied a Skilled Migrant Visa in NZ before, how long should I wait to apply for a Student Visa? Is it possible that my student visa request be denied as well because I have been denied a skilled migrant visa?


    • On the information you have provided we cannot tell is a Student Visa application would be declined. You should make contact to get specific professional advice about your situation rather than posting a general question in public.


  6. Sawa says:


    I had applied for tourist visa to Greece 2 years back, so I thought its not relevant to mention that it was rejected for the obvious reasons as I’m Syrian although the rejection reason did not indicate that explicitly

    Shall I be worried as I received my ITA


  7. nazeem says:

    What if your employer has break some immigration policies,and if I do renewable of work visa under him will it get rejected.?And I have also applied skilled migration


  8. chetan says:

    I had applied for partnership residency under SMC and everything is all going but now got an email from INZ and my co said my wife withheld information and she did not meet the character requirement and we send some reference letters and some other documents actually witheld information was 3 years ago. i just want to does it effect to principal applicant or not or can you please advice something.


    • If your wife does not get a Character Waiver then Immigration can decline the whole application for both of you. It is therefore essential that you do a thorough job of providing evidence and submissions for the Character Waiver.


  9. Ariel Dollopac says:

    Hello Simon,
    I am Ariel from Ph. I recently applied for a work visa but it has been declined. I have a job offer, a work contract, an employer’s supplementary docs, CSEH letter number ( expired). The reason for the decline is that the officer is looking for an authentic effort on the side of the employer that they have considered NZ locals or NZ residence visa holders for the position but these locals and res visa holdets were not available. what step shoul i take if i re-apply for a work visa.
    What sort of additional proof beside the Canterbury Shills and Employment Hub CSEH Letters are the immigration officers looking for?


    • It is not possible to answer this question on general information only. We would need to review the application documents and the correspondence from Immigration to see what happened, before we could give more specific advice.


  10. karthikey says:

    Y2013′ Nz ITA rejected, due to “false and misleading information and/or withheld relevant information” .
    Actual rejection reason, in my declaration i have mentioned as the application has been submitted by my, but i was assisted by consultancy through the EOI & ITA submission process. And later in addition to that, the NZ immigration officer informed that i have be assisted by the non-authoized NZ immg. consultancy, and guided me to get the refund of money i have paid for NZ immg as well as paid for consultancy, apart from NZQA assessment report.

    Now, whether now i can start the NZ immg. all new from the beginning?


    • You can start again and put in another EOI. Immigration cannot decline the new application just because of what happened this time, but they could still raise the issue that you gave false information last time as a character issue which will require a Character Waiver. You should consider getting professional help from a lawyer or licensed immigration adviser to do your new application. Check carefully first whether any immigration adviser who is not a lawyer holds a current Immigration Adviser License.


  11. Pral says:

    Hi , My EOI got rejected saying :

    As part of your Expression of Interest, 50 points were claimed for your Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering degree, which was obtained from Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology in 2005.
    This qualification is not an exact match to our List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment (LOQEA), and no details of an assessment from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) have been provided.

    Whereas the institute name is there in the list.

    What can i do now ? Can i request for another review or whom should i write a mail to for explaining my case.

    Kindly suggest


    • Although your college may be on the list of exempt institutions, it is possible that the precise qualification, or the year of qualification, is not included. The safest thing is to get your qualification assessed by the NZ Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and then file a new EOI.
      You cannot “appeal’ the EOI that was declined.


  12. Muhammad Kashif says:

    Dear Simon,

    My application of skilled immigration has declined due to my partner English level not enough to gain partner qualification points. I didn’t know before about IELTS requirements of partner same as main applicant to gain academic points of partner and submitted EOI. we were contacted by immigration officer and notified about the English requirements and gave second chance to give IELTS but unfortunately my partner again achieved 6.0 band. so they finally declined my application and gave option for appeal. My partner again sit for IELTS and achieved 6.5 desired band. I still have 2days to submit appeal. can I submit with updated IELTS result. please advice.


    • You could try putting in the appeal with the new IELTS result. The best outcome you can get from this is that the Tribunal may send the case back to Immigration to be reassessed with this new information.
      Instead, it may be quicker for you to simply file a new Skilled Migrant application. However, if you score less than 160 points you cannot put in a new Expression of Interest. This is because of a recent change to the EOI points system for Skilled Migrant. If you have less than 160 then your only option is to try the appeal.


      • Grace O. says:

        Dear Sir,
        We are in the same situation now, that they have required us English exam but if we are going to appeal to Tribunal is there really a chance for us? or we will just wait for so long? please advise if we can pursue the appeal. Thanks.


      • There is probably no chance that the Tribunal would overturn INZ’s decision to demand an IELTS test, especially as this is now a mandatory requirement under present policy.


    • Mary O. says:

      hi Muhammad i would like to ask you what happened to you appeal? I’m also waiting for the decision..
      Thank you


  13. izhar9001 says:

    My immigration officer has raised the following issue in ITA letter.

    “We are not currently satisfied that you meet the Long Term Skills Shortage requirements for a Software Tester. The List states that you must have a bachelor’s degree at Level 7 specialising in ICT, or a letter from IPENZ. If the NZQA assessment of your bachelor’s qualification does not specifically state that it is comparable to a bachelor degree specialising in ICT, you will need a letter from IPENZ. Please see the checklist for further details.” –[NZ Govt]

    I have cross verified this issue with NZQA. As per my education evaluator my NZQA assessment is falling in LTSS. I observed that the word comparable is not mentioned on the assessment report. When I inquired about this they replied that this is New format we are currently using. Also, covering letter from NZQA clearly mentioned that my qualification is a comparable outcome.

    As per the NZ govt, they can not look into this until I submit my ITA documents.

    Looking for your suggestions.
    Izhar Ali


    • We will not give advice on this specific situation on the limited information provided. If you are not confident about what to do with this situation, then you should obtain and pay for professional assistance with your Residence application in order to have the best chance of success. If your application is declined, then you may not be able to reapply if you score under 160 on the EOI. This is because of a change in the points threshold in October.


  14. gray marshall says:

    Helpful ideas , Apropos , if someone was looking for a NZ INZ 1206 , my husband filled out and esigned a template document here


  15. Rauf says:

    Dear Sir,

    My application is declined as immigration officer said that I provided false information for my partner’s health. I already told them the reason however still officer declined my application. So what is your best advise whether I should appeal against it or apply new EOI?


  16. lobbydobby says:

    Hi Simon,
    My husband and I had a previous visa refusal in Australia. My husband applied for Skilled Migrant back in 2005 it was refused because of her employment company was not paying tax, renewing registration licence. I applied for student visa to australia last April 2016, it was denied also because my agent and i did not declare the previous application of my husband in which im his dependent. I used an immigration adviser to help me with the process but then they seems not so familiar with the policy blah blah because they told me i should not tick yes because im not the primary applicant but i wanted to declare it…. So I applied for NZ student visa last September 2016 I used a different agent, it was granted. My problem now is that my agent did not declare the two visa refusal. they said i can do it later. and we were afraid of getting refused again because of two previous visa application refused from australian immigration. Now, i realized I should have declare it at first hand of application, i want to fix it. can you help me? will it be a big effect on my post graduate job search visa application by next year? how big is the impact of this to my future visa applications, please help me. Hope to hear from you. Thanks.




    • This may be difficult to fix now, and it could be harmful to your current visa, and any future visa application, if you do not handle this properly.
      You should hire an experienced lawyer or experienced immigration adviser to work through this with you. Before you hire them, check carefully their credentials.


  17. NZforlife says:

    Hello! So I applied for a residence visa under the skilled migrant category, and I had a job offer. So the job offer I got was from a newly established company that needed engineers, the company has already been registered in New Zealand and they have office space. The issue is that the immigration officer wasn’t convinced that the company would be able to pay my salary, in response, the company said that they are willing to pay me 3 months worth of salary ahead of time and they are willing to agree to any further requirement imposed by the immigration officer to make the job offer considerable and yet the immigration officer was not convinced and declined my application on grounds that my job offer was not reliable.I am planning to appeal to the Immigration & Protection Tribunal against the decline. Can you tell me your thoughts regarding my case? Is it likely that my visa will be issued and how long do you think it will take for them to make a decision?


  18. Ahmed says:

    My application of skilled immigration will be declined because my partner is not able to meet minimum English level requirements i.e 6.5 bands to gain partner qualification points. I didn’t know before about IELTS requirements of the partner to gain academic points. We were contacted by an immigration officer and notified about the English requirements and gave final chance to give IELTS but unfortunately, my partner achieved 6.0 band. Can I rebook the test and request the officer to consider the results if she gets 6.5 bands this time?. Can I submit with updated IELTS result? Please, advise.


  19. Shu says:

    Hi Simon,

    My spouse has diploma in HR management and I want to claim points for this but this is not there in the exempted list so do I have to assess this through PAR?


      • Ash says:

        Hi Simon

        11 years before I applied for UK student visa and I was rejected and after that I got a good offer in Dubai and accepted it. Now I am in Dubai for 11 years and again was reused for swiss visa first time in 2009 and i got the same swiss visa in 2014. Now I am planning to apply for skill migration visa for NZ so do I need to mention these two visa refusals. Your thoughts and advice highly anticipated.



      • You must declare these previous refusals for any question of the form, “Have you ever been refused a visa . . .” You do not need to declare them if the questions is different – for example, “Have you ever been refused entry . . .” In particular, owing to information sharing arrangements with the UK and other countries, the UK visa refusal would be picked up during security checking by Immigration, and if you avoided declaring it then this on its own could be fatal to the visa application and to any subsequent attempt to apply for a visa to NZ, Australia or any similar country.


  20. Ash says:

    Hi Simon,

    11 years before I applied for UK student visa and I was rejected and after that I got a good offer in Dubai and accepted it. Now I am in Dubai for 11 years and again was reused for swiss visa first time in 2009 and i got the same swiss visa in 2014. Now I am planning to apply for skill migration visa for NZ so do I need to mention these two visa refusals. Your thoughts and advice highly anticipated.



  21. Tommy says:

    Hi Simon,
    My EOI was selected 2 weeks earlier but rejected yesterday.
    I was informed that my qualification was not in the Appendix 3 – List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment (SM14.5). However, my qualification is among the list indeed. I appealed thru email to the immigration officer in the same day. And I am pretty sure all information per my EOI are true and correct. Do you know similar cases followed by successful appeal?
    Thx in advances


  22. George says:

    Hi Simon

    I plan to submit EOI to INZ under SMC. My son is 16+ years old and now attending year 13 at a Grammar school in New Zealand. He is studying in NZ since 2013. ( joined in year 9 at Grammar). Does he need a IELTS/similar score to prove competency in English Language? ( We are Indian Citizens and living in NZ for 4 years)

    Thank you



  23. Rav says:

    Hi Simon,
    I am planning to apply for NZ Skilled migrant Visa. I understood there are 2 changes in 2017:
    1. Cut-off is raised to 160 to submit the EOI.
    2. English Language test is needed.

    My overall score in IELTS is 6.5. I would like to know if :
    1. I am eliglible to apply for this visa?
    2. The IELTS will contain any points.


  24. Shyam karki says:

    Hi Simon
    I had applied for a work visa in NZ but i got rejected saying We have declined your application for a work visa because you do not meet the requirements set out in the work immigration instructions.We have reached upon the decision on your application taking into account the information provided with your application and have concluded that you do not meet our good character requirements and hence grant of a character waiver has been declined. We have also considered if there are any special circumstances that would warrant an exception to immigration instructions, but can find no reason to grant a visa as an exception.
    So i am going to apply for a dependent visa in Australia with my spouse being dependent will that NZ rejection case affects my dependent visa.


    • Yes, it is possible, because the departments in Australia and NZ share some information. You will also probably have to declare the fact that a visa application was declined. For specific advice on the Australian visa processing situation, you must contact a registered Australian migration agent.


  25. raednet says:

    My residence visa – Skilled Migrant declined because you do not meet the requirements under the Skilled Migrant Category. We have made this decision for the following reasons:
    * As we are unable to grant you all of the points claimed for age, your application has not met the selection criteria.
    We wrote to you on 05 April 2017 raising concerns about your application and giving you an opportunity to comment and provide further information. We have considered your response and the additional information provided on 15 April and 18 April 2017. We are not satisfied that this addresses our concerns for the following reasons:
    * You advised that you had found a recruiter in New Zealand who was willing to work with you, and that you were convinced that there was a chance of obtaining an offer of employment as there is a shortage of web developers and a growth in the website industry.
    * You advised that the lodgement of your application was delayed due to the length of time taken to receive mandatory documents in order to submit your application, and indicated timeframes for the NZQA and police certificate.

    I am planning to appeal to the Immigration & Protection Tribunal against the decline. Can you tell me your thoughts regarding my case? Help please ?


    • If you want specific advice on your own situation, please make direct contact with our office and not through a publicly accessible portal. We will need more background information in order to properly assess your chances of success on Appeal. If you are offshore, then this might best be done by scheduling a Skype interview and paying for a full consultation.


  26. Mona says:

    I am applying for another three months to extend my temporary visa under partnership. I received a letter from immigration yesterday that my application can not continue processing due to lack of evidence showing that we are in stable and genuine relationship. We provided some photos, power bill, joint account and also email evidence.
    – lack of information showing in the email to show we are in a genuine relationship
    We have told them we never use email to communicate but only Facebook messenger to talk to each other since last year but they said it is not enough.
    We thought Facebook messenger is not accepted that is why we didn’t provide any screenshot conversations.
    – no date/time stating where photos was taken
    We will try print out more photos with the dates on it and send to them.
    – we have provided false information in my application and also our relationship history letter (we put down 2013 instead we met in 2016)
    They have given us one week to provide any evidence or comments.

    Is it too late to correct everything?
    Do you think we should we fill out new applications/relationship history with the correct information and send to them before the due date ?

    Please help


    • If your previous visa has already expired then you should not withdraw the present application, otherwise you will become an overstayer right away. There are some significant issues with your application, and you should seek professional help immediately and as a matter of urgency.


  27. pankajworld says:

    Hi Simon,
    in my EOI question : I have chosen No as answer to below question although I was denied tourist visa for USA recently. Do you think it will be safer to disclose this in my ITA submission.

    B12. Have you ever been refused entry to any country, including New Zealand.


    • You can answer No to this question. “Refused entry” is different to having a visa application declined, and means being stopped at the border and forced to get back on a plane out of a country when you arrive.
      In order to avoid problems, however, you should mention that you had a visa application to the US declined, and give an explanation. This is because it is possible that New Zealand will check with the USA as to whether you have any record with them.


  28. jasper says:

    I’m a registered nurse currently working full-time. I applied for an EOI April 2017 for the SMC Visa with total granted 175 points. My initial EOI was declined due me having taken my declared IELTS exam in 2014, which is more than the 2 years validity period on the application date. As per the EOI letter which I received, all 175 points were awarded accordingly and that the EOI was only declared invalid because of the expired IELTS exam. I now have taken and passed a new IELTS exam as per Immigration standard. My question is, can I appeal the previous EOI decision? I have a colleague wherein her IELTS was also expired, her EOI was granted under the condition that she will pass another IELTS. Why was the decision between her application and mine different? If I appeal my declined EOI to the tribunal and use her EOI as evidence, shall it affect the decision of her residency being approved?


  29. Ki says:

    Our SMC Residency application is jus awaiting our IELTS results. This has just been obtained yesterday and main applicant did not get band score. Partner did.
    Will the application be rejected?
    If so, will a whole new application be submitted? Do we have to go through EOI again? Our EOI points was 235


  30. henna says:

    Dear Sir,
    I have a question regarding “Partners English Language requirement” when she is claiming point as a non-primary applicant for her recognized qualification. Does she has to take IELTs exam before EOI submission or she can take IELTS later once get an ITA from INZ.


  31. Rubi says:

    Applied for Residency under skilled migrant. we have submitted our application with my partner as the principal applicant, he does not need the English language requirement because his PhD was
    obtained from the UK. I am at the end of my PhD here in NZ as I would be submitting my thesis next month. I am wondering if I should still register to take the IELTS test and have the test result ready.


  32. Mansoor says:

    Hi Simon
    i have been rejected a USA visit visa last year, now i have applied my INZ EOI with 165 points but the thing i am concerned about after reading your blog is that i have answered “NO” for the question:

    “B12. Have you ever been refused entry to any country, including New Zealand?”

    i answered it No because i thought there is difference between visa refusal and entry refusal. now i need your opinion that i really made a mess with my EOI or not, and should I state my USA visa refusal in ITA if i receive it.



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