Australia vs New Zealand Immigration

Australia and New Zealand are two main destinations for people thinking about immigrating to a new country. Both are great countries, especially for immigrants, but to make it easier for you we have compared them side by side to help you choose a path for your new life. A major factor in choosing where to immigrate, is the immigration system itself! We’ve therefore compared the Australian Skilled visa system with the New Zealand Skilled Migrant Category!

We have done a similar comparison for these countries business visas and can be seen here.

Please note this is a basic comparison of immigration programs between New Zealand vs Australia skilled visa programs, for your to understand which immigration program gives you better options! To assess your individual case please book a meeting here.

Skilled Worker Programs – Overview

Here we are going to compare two popular immigration programs: Australia’s Skilled Independent program (subclass 189) and New Zealand’s Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa.

Both of these programs aim to attract high caliber applicants with skilled work experience, your education, English language ability and many more.

Neither of the programs require applicants to have a job offer or family or state sponsor to submit an EOI however in most cases to be eligible for New Zealand’s Skilled visa you would need the job offer points.

These two immigration programs may be ideal for highly qualified skilled workers from any country, regardless of having a family or employer to sponsor them on these visas.

In both of the above visa programs you achieve permanent resident status. Permanent resident status allows you to stay in these countries indefinitely with a pathway to citizenship.

Both of these skilled migration programs are points-based systems to determine their eligibility and to select applicants.


A major difference in the Australian 189 visa to the New Zealand Skilled Migrant Category is that to apply for the 189 visa you must have a positive skills assessment from a skills assessing authority to demonstrate your degree is comparable to an Australian degree and can potentially start practicing in Australia. In New Zealand, your qualification must be recognised by either being:

  • on the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment or;
  • assessed by a New Zealand registration authority at the same level as a qualification on the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment as part of an application for New Zealand occupational registration.

Canada’s Federal Skilled Worker program requires applicants to have at least 1 year of full-time, skilled work experience. Similar to Australia, Canada defines skilled work experience as any job at National Occupational Classification(NOC) Skill Level 0, A, or B.

Another difference is the occupations lists for both programs. The Australian occupations list for the skilled independent visa can be seen here.

In Australia, you must be under 45 wheres you can apply for New Zealand if you are 55 or under.

Points System Comparison

Both programs are points based and to determine eligibility of applicants for immigration. They assign points for age, language proficiency, work experience, education, and factors such as study in respective countries, regional area (area of skill shortage) work and more. In Australia, you must score a minimum of 65 points to be eligible, while New Zealand’s program requires a minimum of 160 points for an invitation.

Factor Australia New Zealand
Maximum Points Per Factor
Age 30 30
Language Proficiency 20
Job offer or already working in AU/NZ 0 50
Absolute skills shortage area work/outside Auckland/High income 30
Overseas Work Experience 15 50
Onshore Work Experience 20 10
Qualifications (Education) 20 70
Other Factors (study requirements, regional study, professional year, community language, partner skills) 20 40
Passing Score 65 160

If you meet the minimum point’s requirement, you are eligible to submit your interest in the program. However, for both Australia and New Zealand (100 points) simply meeting the minimum points requirement does not guarantee that you will be invited to apply and immigrate to these countries. In other words the pool mark for all General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa are 65 for Australia and 100 for New Zealand but the competitive nature of these visas, a pool mark does not guarantee an invitation to apply. New Zealand is currently inviting candidates with 160 or over points.

Application Process


The application process for the Australian Skilled Independent Visa program is similar to New Zealand’s Express of Interest system. Applicants who meet the minimum of 65 points must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) using the SkillSelect online system.

Australian immigration issues invitations once a month (on the 11th day of each month). Applicants with the highest ranking EOIs will be invited to apply. If multiple applicants have the same ranking score, the candidate whose occupation ceiling is not reached and their profile was submitted earlier will be prioritized. SkillSelect EOIs are valid for up to 2 years. If an EOI is not invited within 2 years, it will expire.

Occupation ceilings in the Australian Immigration system give an eligible occupation a maximum quota and if that quota is reached no other invitations in that occupation will be invited until the next year.

After receiving an invitation, an applicant is given 60 days to submit an application for Australian permanent residence to the Department of Home Affairs. If the application is successful, they receive permanent resident status for themselves and any dependent family members (spouse/ de facto and children).

New Zealand

New Zealand’s Skilled Migrant Category Resident visa (SMC) program runs within the Expression of Interest (EOI) system.

Completing an EOI profile is the first step to immigrate to New Zealand permanently as a skilled migrant. You will need to complete an EOI profile and meet the minimum criteria to be accepted into the pool.

If you are interested in the SMC program, you will need to meet, at minimum, the pass mark of 160 points out of the Skilled Migrant Category grid.

If you are accepted into the pool, you are not guaranteed to receive an Invitation to Apply for residence. An Invitation to Apply for residence will be based on your score and rank in the EOI pool using a ranking system.

After being selected from the pool people will undergo preliminary verification to determine if an invitation to apply for residency will be issued.

An EOI profile remains valid for up to 12 months, if the profile is not selected within 12 months the applicant must resubmit a new profile.

Every fortnight, the New Zealand government conducts an EOI selection, inviting the candidates in the pool with the highest scores to submit official applications for permanent residence. If an applicant is successful, they will receive resident status for themselves, and dependent family members who were included on the application.

Processing Times & Cost

Australia’s Skilled Independent program costs AU$4045 for the principal applicant, plus an additional AU$2025 for a spouse or partner, and AU$1010 per child. There is no EOI fee. Similar to New Zealand immigration, Australian applicants would pay for translation, postage, health exams and miscellaneous costs.

New Zealand’s application fees are lower compared to Australian immigration but the processing time in both programs are similar.

New Zealand’s Skilled Migrant Category program charges NZ$530 for an Online Expression of Interest plus an additional NZ$2710 as the application cost for the family. Though, applicants to Express Entry programs should be aware of the various other costs they can expect during the immigration process.

New Zealand’s Skilled visa shows processing of 90% of all applications within 10 months of receipt. Australia’s Independent Skills migration program states that 90% of applications are processed within 6 months of receipt.

Other Immigration Options

Both of these programs are intended for high-skilled workers and to address skill shortages without a connection to either Australia or New Zealand. If the applicant has ties to the country, for example they completed their studies in Australia or they have a job offer in New Zealand, then they may have additional options.

Australia, for example, also manages the 190 state sponsored visa or the 489 provisional skilled visa, another program within the skilled category which prioritizes foreign nationals with a state or family sponsor. As well, New Zealand favors generously people who work in an area of absolute skills shortage, work outside of Auckland or who are paid the high remuneration threshold.

As well, Australia operates several immigration programs for employer sponsored programs who have a business to support their application. There are visas available to those with an employer nomination (482 TSS visa, 186 ENS visa, 187 RSMS visa), to those from certain regions, and for those with special skills.

New Zealand also has a range of employer assisted visas, mainly the Specific Purpose Work visa, Essential Skills Work visa, Long Term Skill Shortage List Work visa and the Talent Work Visa (Accredited Employer).

If you would like to learn more about your own eligibility for Australia or New Zealand immigration, book a consultation or complete one of our free online assessments. One of our registered migration agents or licensed advisers will review your eligibility and contact you to discuss your options!

If you would like to find out more about your skilled migration pathways to Australia and New zealand or discuss your visa options further , please contact VisaEnvoy, Australian migration agents and immigration lawyers in Melbourne on 03 9521 7577 or book a meeting.