A Complete Guide to New Zealand Residency under the Skilled Migrant Category

Potential Points for Skilled Work Experience
Hello friends, just like our articles on "Hot Courses” (where our intent is to give you information on different study programmes which students can look at studying in New Zealand, that has high employability prospects after its completion), we have decided to write about different aspects of Residency under Skilled Migrant Category Visa.

This series will address criterion on which applicants seek more clarification. One such criteria under this visa category is "Skilled Work Experience”. We’ll keep the format of this series in form of Q&A, so that you can skip to information that interests you the most!

The word "Skilled” attached to the term "Work Experience” in itself says a lot in relation to what type of work experience does the Immigration wants to recognize for the purpose of claiming points, but in a nutshell, I can say that it is extremely difficult to claim points for work experience that corresponds to ANZSCO skill level 4 & 5 occupations, and I am using the term extremely difficult, because I cannot technically use the word "impossible”! On the one hand, let’s say that you are currently employed as a Restaurant Manager 141111 (ANZSCO skill level 2), but you have 6 years of experience as a Supervisor (skill level 4), then in MOST cases, you’ll not be able to claim points for these 6 years, even though it could be completely relevant to what your current job. On the other hand, if you have currently been offered a job as an "Accountant” and you  want to claim experience points from your past work experience as a "procurement manager” (which are two completely different occupation), then you may be able to, since procurement manager is a ANZSCO skill level 1 job. So, relation of your past work experience to your current job/job offer has very little significance which brings me to answering the first question.
1. Can I claim points for Skilled Work Experience that is not from the same occupation under which I have a job/job offer?

The question is interesting, because logically one would assume that you’ll need to have experience from the same field from which you have received you offer letter, so that you can use that work experience in your current job, but that is not exactly the case. 

What Immigration is more concerned about is your ANZSCO skill level of your past work experience, and whether you were "suitably qualified” before you undertook that work. We’ll address what suitably qualified means in a later question, but just to keep things simple: 

If you are claiming points for past work experience that "substantially matches” with an occupation that is skill level 1, 2, or 3, then it won’t need to be from the same occupation from which you are claiming points for your current job/job offer (i.e. Skilled Employment). All you’ll need to show in this case is:

  • It (your past work experience) "substantially matches” to a corresponding ANZSCO code under skill level 1,2, or 3 and;
  • You were "suitably qualified” before you were employed to do that job
For Example: Let’s assume I currently have been offered a job as an "Accountant”, and let’s also assume that it’s a valid job offer as far as skilled employment is concerned. Now I also happen to have past experience as a "Procurement Manager” for 6 years, then will I be able to claim points of this work experience? And the answer could be a "yes” given that I can prove that I was "suitably qualified” to work as a "Procurement Manager” prior to being employed as a "Procurement Manager”, it was a genuine experience, and it substantially matched with ANZSCO 133612. Even though it has no relation to my current job as an "Accountant”, I may very well be able to claim those work experience points.

Now what about claiming points for work experience that has no corresponding occupations comparable to ANZSCO skill level 1, 2, or 3?

We’ll in this case your work experience and the occupation should be the same as the one for which you are eligible for points for skilled employment. Furthermore, this also means that you full-fill all the criteria for skilled employment of that skill level including i.e. being paid at least $36.44 NZD per hour on the basis of full-time and sustainable employment.

For Example: Let’s assume that you have 10 years of work experience as a book keeper (ANZSCO 551211 – Skill level 4) and now you have a job-offer as an "Accountant” for which you are claiming points under "Skilled Employment”, then you’ll not be able to claim the 10 years of work experience points as a book-keeper. To be able to claim these 10 years of work experience points you’ll have to make sure that you:

  • Currently have a job offer (for the purpose of claiming skilled employment points) to work as a "Book-Keeper” (so your current duties substantially matches to ANZSCO 551211) and; 
  • You are paid at least $36.44 per hour on the basis of full-time employment that is sustainable, and that meet all the other employability criterion.
2. What does it mean to be "Suitably Qualified” prior to the period of work experience?

In most cases you can show that you were suitably qualified in one of two or both ways i.e. either by showing that you had relevant and required work experience or by showing that you had relevant and required qualification prior to undertaking that job.

Let me address the term "required” first. In most cases the term required will relate to the corresponding ANZSCO code for which you are claiming work experience points as per the below table.

ANZSCO Skill Level

Minimum Relevant Qualification or

Minimum Relevant Work Experience that can substitute the need of a formal qualification


Bachelor Degree

5 years


NZ Registered Diploma

3 Years


NZ Registered Level 4 Qualification

3 Years


NZ Registered Level 2 or 3 Qualification

1 Year


NZ Registered Level 1 Qualification

Some occupation may need short period of on-job training

Note: Some occupations may also need licensing or registration

Now let me address the term "relevant”. In most cases for the purpose of assessing your past work experience, the word relevant can mean either of two things:

  • Your qualification and/or work experience was one of the main reason for you to get the job in the first place or;
  • Your qualification and/or work experience was directly applicable to your job
Some Examples:

Scenario A: You worked as an "Accountant” for 10 years, and you had a relevant "Bachelor Degree” which was completed prior to the start of those 10 years of work experience. In this case you may be able to claim all 10 years of work experience given that it was is genuine, and it substantially matched with ANZSCO 221111.

Scenario B: You worked as an "Accountant” for 11 years, and you did not have any formal qualification prior to the start of those 10 years of work experience. In this case given that all the 10 years of work experience was genuine, and it substantially matched with ANZSCO 221111, your first 5 years will be substituted against the need to be formally qualified, and you may be able to claim the remainder 6 years of work experience points as an Accountant.

Scenario C: You worked as an "Accountant” for 10 years, and you had a formal bachelor degree qualification, but you are not sure whether it is directly related to "accounting”. In this case, you’ll have to show evidence that this bachelor degree was the main factor for you to get that job at the time. In such a case you may be able to claim 10 years of full-work experience. Although the decision could very, and subject to a proper assessment.

Scenario D: You have 10 years of total experience as per follow but no formal qualification:

  • 5 years as a Bookkeeper
  • 1 year as an Assistant Accountant (ANZSCO skill level 4)
  • 4 years as an Accountant (ANZSCO skill level 4)
In this case, you’ll be able to prove that you are suitably qualified by the way of showing that you have 5 + years of relevant work experience (5 years as a Book Keeper + 1 year as an Assistant Accountant) prior to working 4 years as an Accountant, but you may only be able to claim 4 years of work experience as an Accountant.
3. Information on Bonus points for work experience in New Zealand

As most of you may know that you can claim 10 bonus points for showing 1 or 1+ years of work experience in New Zealand. However there are some things you’ll need to know before you take these 10 points into account while doing your points test.

  • The experience needs to be "Skilled”. So everything that we discussed in question number 1, and 2 applies here. (both in terms of ANZSCO skill level, remuneration threshold, the need for the occupation to be in the same area or not, and finally whether you are suitable qualified or not)
  • You need to have a minimum of 2 years of skilled experience (doesn’t have to be 2 years of New Zealand skilled experience, it could be a combination of skilled work experience gained both in overseas and New Zealand), out of which 1 or more years of skilled experience needs to be in New Zealand. 
  • You must have maintained a lawful status and should have complied with your visa conditions at the time for which you are claiming New Zealand work experience bonus points. Furthermore, it should have been lawfully obtained.
4. Bonus points for work experience in an area of absolute skills shortage

2-5 Years

10 Points

6 Years of More

15 Points

  • It should have been undertaken in an occupation included in the Long Term Skills Shortage List (LTSSL)
  • Applicant must be able to meet the criteria of being "Suitably Qualified” but also "additional criteria” specified under the occupation of this LTSSL list.
For Example:

The below occupation has the additional criteria (from the LTSSL) mentioned on the right side of the column. Now let’s assume that I have 1) a bachelor’s degree (at NZQF level 7) with a major in quantity surveying, and I also have 3 years of work experience after my qualification.

In this case, I possibly meet the criteria for working under absolute skills shortage, but at the same time, I can also claim 10 bonus points for having (2-5 years of work experience in an area of absolute skills shortage)

5. How to calculate the number of years for work experience?

Calculation of levels of work experience must be for complete weeks based on a 30-hour week.

  • Let’s say in a given year (52 weeks) you worked for 60 years every week, in this case, you can’t claim 2 years of work experience (for the period of those 52 weeks)
  • In contrast four years work experience for 15 hours per week is equal to two years of  work experience
6. What is Comparable labour markets? My work experience will only be considered valid if it’s from certain countries or certain types of companies only?

Only in situation where:

  • You don’t have an offer of skilled employment or;
  • Your work experience is not from the area of absolute skills shortage, and meet the requirements of having work experience in the area of absolute skills shortage.
Work experience is assessed as being in a comparable labour market if it was undertaken in one of the following countries by:

  • A citizen or permanent resident of that country; or
  • A person who had the lawful authority to work in that country.























Slovak Republic





New Zealand


United Kingdom

Czech Republic

Hong Kong



South Africa

United States





South Korea

Note: if you have work experience from countries that is not listed above, then you may be able to show that your past work experience is in comparable labour market if your work experience was from a company which was/is a multinational commercial entity domiciled in one of the countries listed above.

So I hope that this article provided all the information that you need to know about claiming points for past work experience under the Skilled Migrant Category. Just like this topic, we aim to cover all the important topics for this visa type.

Disclaimer: Please note that this is not way is an Immigration Advise, and is only written for the purpose of education and providing information. Each case is unique and it is very important that you seek professional help to assess your situation, especially when it comes to making decision for the residency. Please call us on 0800 287 749, +6492803500 or email us on nz@aussizz.com to seek professional advice regarding your case from a Licenced Immigration Adviser.
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