The words ‘Skilled Employment’ are often used for both skilled employment and relevant recognised work experience. Both words are mainly used in resident visas instructions. What’s the difference then?

What about Work (temporary) visas, offers of employment and work experience?

Resident visa

Skilled Employment

Skilled employment is solely used in a resident visa context. It is used to determine if  a job offer from a New Zealand employer or your current employment with a New Zealand employer is skilled.

If you meet the criteria for skilled employment you are able to claim points for it under the Skilled Migrant Category (resident visa for people with certain skills).

Immigration New Zealand uses a list of skilled occupations and standard position descriptions for these occupations. Whether or not your occupation is considered skilled is determined by  your position description and the level that is assigned to the position.

There are 5 skill levels and only occupations that are level 1, 2 or 3 are considered skilled for the purposes of a resident visa. Your occupation has to be on the List of Skilled Occupations.

Your position description has to substantially match the description for that occupation (including core tasks) in the standard position description of that occupation.

Next to the criteria above employment is only considered skilled if you gained specialist, technical or management expertise obtained through:

  • the completion of recognised relevant qualifications; or
  • recognised relevant work experience; or
  • the completion of recognised relevant qualifications and work experience.


Relevant work experience 

Work experience is relevant to employment if:

  • your work experience is directly applicable to the employment; and/or
  • the offer of employment could not reasonably have been made or the employment could not reasonably have been undertaken if you did not have that work experience.


Recognised work experience 

Work experience is recognised and qualifies for points if the work experience is:

  • relevant to your  current skilled employment in New Zealand or offer of skilled employment in New Zealand; or
  • relevant to your recognised qualification; or
  • skilled, because it required, or enabled you  to gain specialist, technical or management skills and experience relevant to their occupation.


Work experience must also have been gained in a labour market that is comparable to the New Zealand labour market unless:

  • your work experience meets the requirements for work experience in an area of absolute skills shortage; or
  • you have current skilled employment in New Zealand or an offer of skilled employment in New Zealand.


Work visa

There are two factors Immigration New Zealand looks at when assessing a work visa application and the offer of employment:

  1. What is the skill level of the occupation in the offer of employment?
  2. Are you suitably qualified by training or experience? 


To assess the skill level Immigration will look at the same standard occupations as they use to determine if  employment is skilled for a resident visa. For a work visa application the skill level of the occupation in the offer of employment may be any level (1, 2 ,3, 4 or 5).
In general the rule applies that the lower the level (less skilled), the more difficult it will be to obtain a work visa.

You are suitable qualified by training and experience for a particular occupation when:

  • you hold a relevant qualification; or
  • you have relevant work experience (see above under resident visa); or
  • your employment is in an occupation included on the Essential Skills in Demand Lists and you meet the relevant requirements specified for that occupation.


There are many different types of work visa, such as Essential Skills, Silver Fern, Working Holiday, Post-graduate, Work to Residence (5 different types). Most require an offer of employment but some do not. The words ‘skilled employment’ are not used for work visa in general (not even for an Essential Skills work visa).

The words offer of Skilled Employment (as meant in Skilled Employment under resident visa) only appear in work visa instructions for a Silver Fern Practical Experience visa and the Skilled Migrant Category Job Search visa.

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