New Zealand’s Immigration Points System for the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) has been updated to a more streamlined approach, effective October 2023. This system, designed to attract skilled migrants who can significantly contribute to New Zealand’s economy, offers a more straightforward and transparent pathway for potential immigrants, instilling hope and optimism in their journey. 

The system evaluates applicants based on various factors, including qualifications, skilled employment, income, and work experience. Let’s delve into the details of how the updated points system works:

Here’s a detailed look at how the updated points system works:

Minimum Points Requirement

The Skilled Migrant Category visa(SMC) is a pathway for skilled migrants to permanently live and work in New Zealand. Applicants must score at least 6 points to be eligible for this visa. This minimum threshold can be achieved through qualifications, skilled employment, income, and New Zealand work experience.

Key Factors and Points Allocation

1. Qualifications

To qualify for points, your qualification must be recognised. Recognition is achieved if it meets one of the following criteria:

  • It is a New Zealand qualification listed on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).
  • It appears on the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment (LQEA).
  • The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has evaluated it through an International Qualification Assessment (IQA).

Points available for qualifications:

  • Level 10 Doctoral Degree: 6 points
  • Level 9 Master’s Degree: 5 points
  • Level 8 Bachelor Honour’s Degree or Postgraduate Diploma: 4 points
  • Level 8 Postgraduate Certificate / Level 7 Bachelor’s Degree: 3 points

International qualifications without a New Zealand equivalent:

  • Level 10 qualification: 5 points
  • Level 9 qualification: 4 points
  • Level 8 qualification: 3 points

Include evidence such as copies of your qualifications, course transcripts, and an IQA if necessary.


2. Skilled Employment

Points are awarded for having a job or job offer in New Zealand that meets certain wage thresholds:

Points available for income:

  • Job or job offer at 3 times the median wage (NZD 94.83/hour or more): 6 points
  • Job or job offer at 2 times the median wage (NZD 63.22/hour or more): 4 points
  • Job or job offer at 1.5 times the median wage (NZD 47.41/hour or more): 3 points

Include evidence such as your employment agreement and job description.

3. Skilled Work Experience in New Zealand

You can earn 1 point for each year of skilled work experience in New Zealand, with a maximum of 3 points.

Skilled work requirements:

  • Must be full-time (minimum of 30 hours a week).
  • The wage threshold varies based on the ANZSCO level of your job:
    • ANZSCO level 1-3: Median wage or above.
    • ANZSCO level 4-5: 1.5 times the median salary or above.

Include evidence such as previous and current employment agreements, job descriptions, and earnings summaries.

  1. New Zealand Occupational Registration

Your New Zealand occupational registration must be eligible to qualify for points. Registrations that require more training are worth more points.

Points available for occupational registration:

  • 6 points: Minimum of 6 years of experience/training required.
  • 5 points: Minimum of 5 years of experience/training required.
  • 4 points: Minimum of 4 years of experience/training required.
  • 3 points: Minimum of 2 years of experience/training required.

Include evidence such as your registration authority, the name of your registration, and proof of meeting other requirements.

Case Examples

Example 1: Leon

  • Employment: Leon has an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) and works in a skilled job that pays NZD 64.88 an hour.
  • Points from Income: Because he is paid at least twice the median wage, he can claim 4 points from his income.
  • Work Experience: He has worked in this role for 2 years at this pay rate, earning him an additional 2 points for skilled work experience.
  • Total Points: Leon can claim 6 points (4 points from income + 2 points from work experience).
  • Outcome: Leon can express interest in a Skilled Migrant Category Visa.

Example 2: Kylie

  • Employment: Kylie is granted an AEWV in July 2024 for a role that pays the February 2023 median wage.
  • Work Experience: Kylie has worked in this role for 1 year.
  • Points for Work Experience: Since Kylie’s pay is only at the median wage and not 1.5 times the median wage, she cannot use this time to claim points for work experience for a Skilled Migrant Category Visa.
  • Outcome: Kylie does not accumulate points for her work experience under the current pay rate.

Tips for Maximizing Your Points

  • Pursue higher qualifications: Advanced degrees can significantly boost your points.
  • Gain New Zealand work experience: Working in New Zealand provides additional points and strengthens your application.
  • Achieve high-income levels: Securing a job offer with a high salary adds valuable points.
  • Obtain New Zealand occupational registration: Points for professional registration can significantly enhance your application.


New Zealand’s updated Immigration Points System simplifies the pathway for skilled migrants. By focusing on qualifications, income, and local work experience, applicants can strategically enhance their eligibility for the SMC visa. This system, aiming to attract highly skilled individuals, promises a bright future, inspiring and motivating potential immigrants to contribute to the country’s growth and development.

For more detailed information, you can visit the Immigration New Zealand website.

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