Working hard and getting ahead is important to us. New Zealand is a well-developed, well connected
country with all sorts of opportunities to advance your career.
But New Zealanders also believe life is for living. It’s about balancing a good day’s work with time for
family and friends plus all the recreation and wide open spaces the country offers.
For the record, New Zealand was rated sixth in the world for work-life balance in HSBC’s Expat
Imagine a land the size of the UK or Japan with all the facilities of an advanced Western economy
but a fraction of the number of people.
Less pressure on space and natural resources means they don’t have the pollution, congestion and
health issues that you often find elsewhere.
It’s one of the reasons New Zealand is one of the top three countries expats hoping to improve their
wellbeing are most likely to relocate to, according to results from HSBC’s Expat Explorer survey.
Survey after survey proves New Zealand’s enviable work-life balance.
HSBC’s Expat Explorer survey ranked New Zealand sixth in the world for work-life balance (and first
for ‘Quality of Life’). Overall, they voted New Zealand the third most popular place on earth for
expats to live and work.
The latest survey by global HR consultants Mercer again ranked Auckland as the third best city in the
world for ‘Quality of Living’, after Vienna and Zurich, and first in Asia Pacific and Australasia.
Wellington scored well too, coming in at 12th.
One of the largest global surveys voted New Zealand the 6th best place in the world for expatriates.
HSBC’s Expat Explorer index reflects the opinions of almost 9,300 expats based in over 100
If you have skills, qualifications or experience that New Zealand needs you may be able to apply for a
resident visa under the Skilled Migrant Category.
The Skilled Migrant Category is a points system based on factors such as age, work experience, your
qualifications, and an offer of skilled employment. You must also be aged 55 or under, and meet
English language, health, and character requirements.
How it works
Check you meet the requirements and calculate your points
• Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI)
Submit an EOI online
• Receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA)
If you have 160 points or more you’ll be selected from the EOI pool and may be sent an ITA
• Submit a resident application
Submit your resident application on the form
• Receive your visa
If successful, you’ll be issued a resident visa
• Qualifications not recognised
If you’re claiming points for your qualifications, they need to either be on the List of Qualifications
Exempt from Assessment or have been assessed by NZQA.
Get international qualifications recognised for Immigration | NZQA
• Work experience not comparable
If you’re claiming points for work experience it must be in the same field as your qualification and
job/job offer. If you don’t have a job or job offer then this experience also needs to be in a
comparable labour market, in an occupation on the Long Term Skill Shortage List or for a
• Bonus point requirements not met
To claim work experience bonus points you need to meet the strict requirements outlined on the
Long Term Skill Shortage List.
You must provide proof of your identity. 2 acceptable photos of your head and shoulders
your original or a Glossary forcertified copy of your passport or certificate of identity
your original or a certified copy of your full birth certificate.
You must be of good character
You must be in good health
• English language
You must be able to speak English. International English Language Testing System (IELTS)- General or
Academic Module-Overall score of 6.5 or more / Test of English as a Foreign Language Internetbased Test (TOEFL iBT)-Overall score of 79 or more.
You must be 55 years or under when you apply for residence
• Skilled employment
Your current employment or offer of employment must be skilled
Your qualification must be recognised to qualify for points.
• Work experience
Your work experience must be skilled to qualify for points
• English language for family
Your partner and children 16 and over must speak English or pay for classes to learn English in New
Zealand. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – General or Academic ModuleOverall score of 5.0 or more.
Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT)-Overall score of 35 or more.
Online Expression of Interest-Application cost NZD $ 530
You can pay for your application online by Visa or MasterCard.
Apply for Residence-Immigration costs- NZD $ 3,310
This is the charge for Immigration New Zealand to process your application. It’s not refunded if
application is declined.
A non-refundable immigration levy is charged and is included in the cost.
Employers in New Zealand are used to the New Zealand National Qualifications Framework, which
ranks qualifications from 0-10. For example, a diploma is either 5 or 6, a Bachelor’s degree is 7, and a
doctoral degree is 10. To determine whether an international qualification is comparable to a New
Zealand qualification, it is also ranked using this framework.
Immigration New Zealand has a list of common international qualifications that have already been
assessed against the framework and displays the level. If your qualification is on this list, it is exempt
If your particular qualification is not listed, you may need to get it assessed by the New Zealand
Qualifications Authority (NZQA).
You can start to get an understanding of the New Zealand system at the New Zealand Qualifications
Authority (NZQA) website.
The qualifications listed on Immigration New Zealand’s list of Qualifications Exempt from
Assessment are pre-approved for immigration purposes. So they are valid if:
you are claiming points in a Skilled Migrant visa application, or
you are applying for a work visa on the basis that your occupation is on a skill shortage list and a
New Zealand qualification equivalent is mentioned as a requirement.
If your qualification is not listed, then you might need to apply to NZQA for an International
Qualifications Assessment to submit with your visa application.
If you are submitting an expression of interest, then a pre-assessment Result (PAR) is an option. This
costs less but is not sufficient for a full application.
If you want to work in New Zealand, it may be useful to have your qualifications assessed by NZQA.
This assessment will tell you which level your overseas qualification compares to on the New
Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF), and, where possible, to a New Zealand qualification type.
There is a fee of around $750 for a standard application. The process takes up to 25 working days to
complete once all documents have been received, so make sure you allow enough time.
A maximum of five qualifications can be evaluated per application. After this a new application must
be lodged. A fast-track option is available with a guaranteed processing time of up to 10 working
days. This costs an additional $404.
If your industry has a professional body in New Zealand, it may be able to advise you whether you
will need your qualifications assessed or translated. In some cases, industry bodies have negotiated
reciprocal recognition of overseas qualifications.
A number of jobs in New Zealand require some form of official registration. Immigration New
Zealand has a list of the jobs that are affected.
If you are going to need registration, you should start the process as soon as possible. You will need
to contact the appropriate registration authority to see if you meet their requirements then submit a
You may need to provide evidence of your occupational registration when you submit your visa
application if you are:
applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category and planning to work in an occupation
where registration is required, or
including a job offer in a work visa application and occupational registration is a requirement.
If you are applying for a visa as the partner of a worker or New Zealand resident, it is a good idea to
submit your registration paperwork before you move to New Zealand.