New Zealand Immigration Points Explained

/ / Working in New Zealand, Your Visa Application

new zealand immigration pointsIf you’re reading this it means you have questions about New Zealand immigration points for skilled migration. We’re not surprised, really. Most people want to start by calculating their points, but few people understand how to do it.

Today, we’re going to break it down for you. We’ll explain:

  • The purpose of the points system.
  • Exactly what you get points for.
  • Why you shouldn’t necessarily trust online immigration points calculators

The New Zealand immigration points system

The Skilled Migrant process includes four main steps:

  1. Determining your points score.
  2. Submitting an Expression of Interest.
  3. Receiving an Invitation to Apply.
  4. Applying for the Skilled Migrant visa.

You’ll only be able to submit an Expression of Interest if you score 100 points or more in your skills assessment. Then, once your Expression of Interest is in the pool, your points score will enable Immigration New Zealand (INZ) to decide whether or not you are a desirable candidate for a visa.

High points score = High desirability

Expressions of Interest are ranked using the points score. Those candidates with higher scores are seen as more desirable, as these candidates can offer New Zealand more. INZ will thus use the points scores to help them decide which candidates should get Invitations to Apply.

What do you get New Zealand immigration points for?

New Zealand immigration points are awarded for Age, Skilled Employment, Work Experience, and Qualifications in the following manner:


  • 30 points: 20-39 years
  • 20 points: 40-44 years
  • 10 points: 45-49 years
  • 5 points: 50-55 years

Please note if you are older than 55 years of age you will not qualify.

Skilled employment

  • 50 points: if you have an offer of skilled employment in New Zealand.
  • 50 points: if you are currently employed in a skilled occupation in New Zealand.

Bonus points

  • 10 points where you are:
    • In an occupation in an area of absolute skills shortage, or
    • Employed in work in a region outside Auckland
  • 20 points if:
    • Your income is more than twice the New Zealand median income.
    • Your partner also has a skilled job or job offer.

Work experience in skilled employment

  • 10 points: 2 years
  • 20 points: 4 years
  • 30 points: 6 years
  • 40 points: 8 years
  • 50 points: 10 years

Bonus points for work experience in New Zealand

  • 10 points: 12 months or more

And if the work experience in an area of absolute skills shortage bonus points as follows:

  • 10 points: 2 to 5 years
  • 15 points: 6 or more years


  • 40 points: recognised level 4-6 qualification (e.g. trade qualification, diploma) or Level 3 qualification on the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment.
  • 50 points: recognised level 7 or 8 qualification (e.g. bachelor degree, bachelor degree with honours)
  • 70 points: recognised level 9 or 10 post-graduate qualification (master’s degree, doctorate)

Bonus points for qualifications

  • 10 points for either:
    • Two years full-time study in New Zealand completing a recognised NZ bachelor degree.
    • One year of full-time study in New Zealand completing a recognised NZ post-graduate qualification.
  • 15 points: Two years of full-time study in New Zealand completing a recognised post-graduate NZ qualification.
  • 10 points: Your partner holds a level 7-8 qualification.
  • 20 points: Your partner holds a recognised post-graduate (level 9-10) qualification.

The danger of online calculators

We can’t discuss New Zealand immigration points without touching on online immigration points calculators.

Why is this?

Because these free online tools are often inaccurate, yet many people unfortunately pursue immigration based on the results of online assessments.

Here is the big issue with free online assessments:

More often than not it is a series of questions with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. The problem with this is that emigration is a detailed and intricate environment. For example, you may have a qualification, but is it recognized in New Zealand? Online assessments will ask the former, but won’t determine the latter.

In other words, the results from free online assessments are no more than indicators of your eligibility. Your actual points score could, and most likely will, differ from the total you got online.

This is the only way to get an accurate immigration points score…

It is with a comprehensive assessment done by a licensed immigration adviser who knows the New Zealand immigration act and who can ask the right questions – not just the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions.
Any other approach is likely to lead to wasted effort and money early in the immigration process.

If you’d like to speak an advisor, you are welcome to book a consultation call.. Our licensed advisor can assess your eligibility, advise on your visa options, and guide you through your visa application.

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