New Zealand Immigration Points System Explained

/ / Working in New Zealand, Your Visa Application

new zealand immigration points system

The New Zealand immigration points system is a pivotal part of your move to New Zealand as a skilled migrant. As such, it’s vital to understand how this system works and how you go about getting your points score.

Let’s start at the beginning though – what exactly is the New Zealand immigration points system?

What is the New Zealand immigration points system?

The New Zealand Immigration points system is one of the tools that Immigration New Zealand use in assessing whether or not you’re eligible to live and work in New Zealand.

Specifically, the points system is designed to allow the ranking of Expressions of Interest which enables Immigration New Zealand to extend Invitations to Apply to overseas applicants who have the most to offer to New Zealand.

How does the points system work?

The New Zealand points system judge your eligibility to live and work in New Zealand by awarding points for factors such as your age, whether or not you have a job offer, previous work experience, qualifications and your partner’s points score.

How many points must you get?

To apply for a Skilled Migrant visa, you must score at least 160 points. Due to this, your chances of successfully obtaining a skilled migrant visa will inevitably require that you have a job offer in place.

If you do not manage to score 160 points but you do score at least 100 points, in other words anywhere from 100 to 159 points, you’ll instead be eligible for an Essential Skills Work visa.

The main difference between these two work visas are the residency it offers. The Essential Skills Work Visa offers temporary residency while the Skilled Migrant visa offers permanent residency.

How does Immigration New Zealand award points?

Immigration New Zealand awards points under five categories:

  1. Age
  2. Skilled Employment
  3. Relevant Work Experience
  4. Qualifications
  5. Your Partner’s Score

It is possible to score bonus points in certain categories. Before we get there, however let’s start with the age category and then we’ll work through all five categories as listed above.

1. Age

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

Please note: You will not qualify if you’re older than 55.

2. 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.

Skilled employment means employment for which you need specialist, technical or management expertise as well as relevant qualifications and/or work experience to do. It may also be that a minimum pay threshold applies.

Under the Skilled Migrant Category, you can claim points for skilled employment based on a job you’re currently in, or a job offer you have received.

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.

3. Relevant work experience

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

Bonus points:

  • 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

4. Qualifications

  • 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)

A recognised qualification is one that’s recognised based on:

  • An assessment by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority of the level it occupies on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).
  • The level it occupies on the NZQF as set out in the ‘List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment’.

The level it occupies on the NZQF based on the applicant’s occupational registration in New Zealand (if that registration involves an assessment of comparability with a qualification on the ‘List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment’)

Bonus points:

  • 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.

5. Your partner’s score

  • 10 points: Your partner holds a level 7-8 qualification.
  • 20 points: Your partner holds a recognised post-graduate (level 9-10) qualification.

What does your points score tell you?

Your skilled migrant points score not only acts as an indicator to Immigration New Zealand. Your points score also sets out your migration pathway. It does this by revealing three things:

  • Whether or not you qualify for a skilled migrant visa.
  • If you do not qualify, what other visa options you could pursue.
  • The processes you must follow with your application.

Please keep in mind though that eligibility for a skilled migrant visa does not solely depend on your points score. In addition to achieving the necessary points, you must also meet certain basic criteria such being in good health and of good character.

A word of warning

You’ll find many free tools online that offer to help you calculate your skilled migrant points score.

Tread carefully though! Online tools are often nothing more than a series of yes or no questions. Few have detailed descriptions of requirements or provide guidance on the more intricate parts of the immigration act.

You could thus easily get the wrong points score which could mean that you waste money, build up false hopes and perhaps even miss your chance of immigrating to New Zealand.

Instead of relying on an online calculator, rather get a licensed advisor to calculate your points score for you. A licensed advisor who are up to date with Immigration New Zealand’s requirements will ask you the right questions and request additional information where necessary to calculate your points score.

Get assistance and get the correct score

Intergate Emigration has not one but three licensed immigration advisors to assist you with your visa application from start to finish. This includes explaining how the points system work and calculating your New Zealand points score.

All you have to do to get started is book a consultation call. During this consultation, our licensed immigration advisor will take you through the immigration process and how we can assist you. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

What are you waiting for? Contact us today to get the ball rolling!

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