Simplified points system in depth

This section sets out details of the proposed simplified points system and seeks feedback on its workability.

Baseline requirements

Under the proposed simplified points system:

1. The wage threshold will remain the same as under the current points system

The wage thresholds are:

  • at least median wage for occupations classified as skilled (Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) Level 1-3)

  • at least 1.5 times the median wage for other occupations (ANZSCO Level 4-5).

The median wage will be updated annually. From February 2023, the median wage will be assessed as $29.66 per hour, or approximately $61,700 per annum.

Immigration New Zealand will continue to assess if wages are consistent with the market rate for the occupation. MBIE is undertaking work on market rates, which may inform the Skilled Migrant Category in future.

2. Applicants must have a job or a job offer

Requiring people to have a job or job offer at median wage or above shows that an employer considers a person’s skills can be deployed in New Zealand.

Currently, if people meet the points threshold but do not have a skilled job or job offer, they can get a Job Search Visa to come to New Zealand to find a skilled job, so that they can complete their Skilled Migrant Category application. The Job Search Visa will no longer be available because it is now largely redundant. Technology has improved the ability for people to job hunt from offshore and most people can come to New Zealand on visitor visas to look for work before transitioning to a work or residence visa. Job Search Visa applications are often the most difficult and time-consuming for Immigration New Zealand to assess.

3. Applicants must continue to meet a minimum standard of English language skills

No changes to English language requirements are considered as part of this review.

Meeting the requirements for a residence visa(external link)  — Immigration New Zealand

4. Applicants (and accompanying family) must continue to meet age, health, character, and national security requirements

No changes to the age (up to 55 years), health, and character requirements are considered as part of this review. The exception is that we are working with the Ministry of Health to determine if it is appropriate to lift the age limit of 55 years for a limited number of highly specialised medical roles, recognising the significant time it takes to qualify and challenges in developing these critical skills domestically.

Meeting the requirements for a residence visa(external link)  — Immigration New Zealand


Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) classifies occupations into five skill levels. The skill level is based on the amount of formal education and training, work experience or on-the-job-training that is required to competently perform the tasks of the occupation.

Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO)(external link)  — Immigration New Zealand

Under the proposed simplified points system, ANZSCO is used to distinguish skill level as follows:

  • Applicants with a job or job offer in an ANZSCO Level 4-5 role will need to meet a higher wage threshold (1.5 times the median wage) to be eligible.

  • Applicants will only be able to claim “skilled work experience” in ANZSCO Level 4-5 roles if they earn at least 1.5 times the median wage.

ANZSCO plays an important role in providing an objective and consistent classification of occupations. However, we recognise that ANZSCO has limitations. Jobs often don’t fit neatly within a specific ANZSCO description and feedback from applicants and employers is that ANZSCO is one of the most challenging criteria to meet. ANZSCO assessments are also one of the most time-consuming and difficult factors for Immigration New Zealand to assess.

We considered removing ANZSCO assessments altogether under the simplified points system, given applicants must already meet a clearer skills threshold. Ultimately, we assess that it continues to be relevant. Our skilled residence settings focus not just on skills alone, but also the ability to deploy skills in New Zealand in higher-skilled roles. Residence for people in ANZSCO level 4-5 roles, which require lower levels of training and experience, should only be available to the highest skilled migrants within these occupations.

The introduction of a clear skill threshold under the new system does, however, mean that there are opportunities to streamline ANZSCO assessments in many cases.


  • Statistics New Zealand is considering moving away from ANZSCO and will shortly be consulting on this. If New Zealand does move away from ANZSCO, it is likely to be replaced by an equivalent classification system. We use ANZSCO here to refer to both the current system and a potential replacement.

  • Immigration New Zealand currently uses Version 1.2 of ANZSCO to assess the skill level of most occupations. ANZSCO has been updated to Version 1.3 and some occupations that were skill levels 4 or 5 are now skill levels 1 to 3 in the updated version, and vice versa. Immigration New Zealand will update to the latest version when the Skilled Migrant Category settings are updated.

Special conditions for people in specified occupations

Some occupations are associated with higher immigration or labour market risks. These are occupations which:

  • are prone to “job inflation”, i.e. where job titles and the associated ANZSCO skill level do not match the skill level of tasks undertaken;

  • require little or no training and are in sectors where there is a risk that migrant placement displaces or prevents New Zealand workers from advancing into more highly skilled roles;

  • have amongst the lowest average incomes across previous Skilled Migrant Category applicants; and/or

  • carry risks of gaming and/or immigration fraud, which are drivers of exploitation and poor conditions for both migrants and domestic workers.

These occupations have generally been highly represented in previous Skilled Migrant Category applicants but are not the intended target for skilled residence. For example, from 2017-2019 the second and third highest volume of approved residence applications through the Skilled Migrant Category were Retail Manager (General) (765 approved) and Café or Restaurant Manager (729 approved). The top occupation was Registered Nurse (1,755), which is included on the Green List.

We are proposing to treat specified occupations as equivalent to ANZSCO levels 4-5, meaning a job offer and skilled work in these occupations would only qualify if paid at least 1.5 times the median wage. This proposal aims to manage the risks, while granting residence to genuinely highly skilled people in these occupations.

These changes would only apply to residence visas under the Skilled Migrant Category. People working in these occupations on temporary work visas, including the Accredited Employer Work Visa and working holiday visas, would not be required to meet the higher income threshold.

The proposed initial list of specified occupations is:

  • Café or Restaurant Manager

  • Hospitality, Retail and Service Managers not elsewhere classified

  • Retail Manager (General).

The following occupations were also identified, but they are classified as ANZSCO level 4-5 so will already be subject to the 1.5 times median wage threshold:

  • Cook

  • Retail Supervisor.

Cooks will move from ANZSCO Level 3 to Level 4 when we update to Version 1.3.

The list would be monitored and changes made to mitigate any emerging risks, or to recognise improvements.

Structure of the points system

The simplified points system is structured to set a clear skills threshold, equivalent to six years of “human capital”. This is consistent with the focus on granting residence to people who can meet medium- to long-term skill needs that would be hard, or take time, to fill from the domestic labour market, even under the right conditions.

The structure of the points system offers several ways for people to demonstrate their skill level.

future of the skilled migrant category figure 1

Proposed future points system

Under the simplified points system, applicants must have at least 6 points to be eligible. This can be made up from:

  • 3 to 6 points based on either New Zealand professional registration, qualifications, or income
  • 1 point per year of work in New Zealand in a skilled job, up to a maximum of 3 points.

This means that people entering New Zealand on an Accredited Employer Work Visa will generally need to be able to claim at least 3 skill points (roughly equivalent to three years of education, training, or recognisable work experience) to be eligible for residence in the future.

Applicants can claim points from the skill category that offers them the most points. The more skill points a person can claim, the shorter the period before they can apply for residence.

There is a direct-to-residence pathway for the highest skilled people in each category, e.g. people holding a professional registration requiring at least six years’ formal training/work experience, people with a Doctorate, or people earning at least three times the median wage.

For example:

  • A scientist with a PhD could claim 6 points for their qualification, so would be eligible for residence straight away if they had a job or job offer in New Zealand.
  • A licensed building practitioner could claim 3 points (points level to be confirmed) for their professional registration, so would be eligible for residence after three years of skilled work in New Zealand.
  • A chef earning 1.5 times the median wage could claim 3 points for their income, so would be eligible for residence after three years of skilled work in New Zealand.
  • A registered teacher could claim 3 points (points level to be confirmed) for their professional registration, so would be eligible for residence after three years of skilled work in New Zealand. A teacher with a Master’s degree could claim 5 points for their qualification, meaning that they would be eligible after one year of skilled work in New Zealand.

New Zealand Professional Registration

Years training or work experience Points
6 or more 6
5 or more 5
4 or more 4
3 or more 3

Under the current points system, jobs requiring occupational registration by law have been prioritised since 2018, to enable applications from highly skilled migrants to be processed in a timely way. This means that registered occupations made up a large proportion of visas approved under the Skilled Migrant Category. Many of these occupations are now included on the Green List, which will continue to offer a prioritised residence pathway.

Green List residence pathways(external link)  — Immigration New Zealand

Awarding points for New Zealand Professional Registrations acknowledges that the registering body is well-placed to assess if people have the skills required to work in their sector in New Zealand and means that Immigration New Zealand does not need to duplicate this assessment.

MBIE will work with agencies and industry bodies to define:

  • Eligible registrations. A starting point will be the list of occupational registrations (occupations where there is a legislated requirement to be registered). Some occupations requiring registration by law may not meet the three-year threshold. The baseline threshold will be that it takes a minimum of three years formal training and work experience to gain registration (3 points). This work will also consider the criteria for recognising new registrations.
  • The points each registration will earn. In general, 1 point will be equivalent to every year of minimum formal training and work experience required.

Occupational registration(external link)  — Immigration New Zealand


Level Points
10 (PhD) 6
9 (Masters) 5
8 (Honours, Prost-graduate diploma) 4
7 (Bachelor's dgree) 3

Qualifications are used as a key skill proxy under the current points system and will continue to be recognised under the proposed points system.

One of the biggest changes we are proposing is to remove points for qualifications below Bachelor’s degree level. This includes removing recognition of Level 7 qualifications that are not Bachelor’s degrees. This is consistent with targeting people with at least six years of formal training and skilled experience, with only three years of that able to be made up of skilled work experience in New Zealand.

The number of points available for lower-level qualifications under the current points system is one of the key factors contributing to large numbers of people with relatively low skill levels becoming eligible for the Skilled Migrant Category. For example, 40 points is available for a one-year certificate or diploma at Level 4-6 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework, and 50 points for a Level 7 diploma. This compares to 50 points available for a three-year Bachelor’s degree, and is equivalent to eight to ten years of work experience under the current points system.

Understanding the New Zealand Qualifications Framework(external link)  — The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)

People in jobs where skills are developed primarily on-the-job, including trades, are most likely to be affected by the removal of points for qualifications below Bachelor’s degree, particularly where no registration is available. This is balanced by the introduction of income as a stand-alone skill proxy (below). Some priority trades are already included on the Green List, e.g. Automotive Electrician, Diesel Motor Mechanic, Electrician, Engineering Technicians and Plumbers, as well as some health sector roles.

Points will be awarded based on the standard length of time to achieve the qualification. We will work with relevant agencies to refine the points available at each level, e.g. how to treat Master’s degree programmes that are shorter than standard.

Qualifications can be gained in New Zealand or overseas. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) undertakes an International Qualification Assessment (IQA) to evaluate how qualifications gained overseas compare to New Zealand qualifications. Points are awarded for the equivalent New Zealand level.

Find out if you need an International Qualification Assessment (IQA)(external link)  — The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)

Qualifications claimed under this skill category do not need to be directly relevant to a person’s role. Relevance can be difficult for Immigration New Zealand to assess, and this approach recognises that a person can often transfer skills gained through higher-level qualifications across a range of occupations.


proportion of the NZ median wage Points
3 x median wage 6
1.5 x median wage 3

Migrants earning 2 times the emedian wage already have a 2-year pathway to residence under the Highly Paid Residence Visa

Income as a stand-alone proxy for skill is a new proposal under the simplified points system. This means highly skilled people in occupations where skills are primarily developed on-the-job, including many trades, can become eligible for residence.

Income can be a useful measure of skill: it encompasses an employer’s assessment of the relative value a person can bring to a role, incorporating both formal training and relevant work experience. Like the new Highly Paid Residence Visa (twice median wage), introducing this skill category means some people can gain residence without needing to meet any other formal measures of skill. Previously it was difficult for some very skilled tradespeople without formal qualifications to gain residence through the Skilled Migrant Category.

Applicants in ANZSCO level 4-5 roles will need to earn 1.5 times median wage, as is the case under the current points system.

Skilled work in New Zealand

Years Points
3 3
2 2
1 1

Skilled work in New Zealand is a way of demonstrating commitment to New Zealand and the ability to deploy their skills. If people meet the minimum skill threshold, they can claim points for up to three years of skilled work experience in New Zealand.

The focus on skilled work in New Zealand means migrants can demonstrate a record of employment that Immigration New Zealand can verify.

We also considered models that included recognition of overseas work experience. This is a skill proxy under the current points system and we recognise it as an important measure of human capital. However, it was not included as a key skill proxy because the current points system has shown that verifying overseas work experience is complex, time-consuming, and often impossible. Overseas work experience can be recognised indirectly where a professional body has assessed it as part of a professional registration, or as part of meeting the income threshold.