Qualifications and occupational registration
Employers may need help understanding the qualifications you’ve gained overseas
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 from assessment.
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.
Qualifications for a visa
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.
Getting overseas qualifications assessed
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.
For more about qualifications and finding work in New Zealand visit the careers.govt.nz website.
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 registration application.
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.