Updated List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment13 Mar 2024

The List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment (LQEA) outlines the equivalence of overseas qualifications with the Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). Under Immigration Instructions, certain visa applicants are required to provide evidence that their foreign qualifications are comparable to those in New Zealand. This verification process is conducted through the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and is known as an International Qualification Assessment (IQA).

However, if an applicant's qualification is listed on the LQEA, they may be exempt from submitting an IQA. Other exceptions include qualifications accredited under the Washington Accord or Sydney Accord, and qualifications recognised by Engineering New Zealand or IT Professionals New Zealand for certain engineering and IT roles, respectively.

The original LQEA included information such as the qualification, the institution that awarded it, the specific year it was conferred, and the points that can be assigned to the qualification under the old Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) criteria. It did not, however, provide comparisons to specific New Zealand qualification types.

Under the current Skilled Migrant Category residence pathways, applicants can claim between 3 and 6 points for formal qualifications at the level of a Bachelor's degree or higher. The type of qualification and its NZQCF level is used to determine the number of points that can be awarded e.g., Level 7 Bachelor’s degree = 3 points.

On 29 September 2023, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) implemented a staged revision of the LQEA to add qualification types to all qualifications on the list to ensure alignment with the current SMC requirements, remove qualifications that no longer meet the current SMC requirements, and compile a list of quality-assured, approved, accredited, and relevant qualifications. The updated LQEA is used for qualification assessments under other employment-based residence and work visa applications, including Green List Straight to Residence, Green List and Sector Work to Residence, and Accredited Employer Work Visas. Anyone relying on a qualification from a country not listed on the new LQEA (e.g., India) will need a IQA prior to submitting their expression of interest under the current SMC.

The updated LQEA initially included qualifications from the following seven countries and territories:
• Hong Kong
• Ireland
• Malaysia
• Philippines
• South Africa
• United Kingdom
• United States of America

Effective 25 March 2024, this list is being further updated to include qualifications from the following five countries:
• Australia
• Canada
• China
• Fiji
• Japan

In addition, the current list will be updated by adding Master’s degrees to the list of qualifications awarded in Malaysia, and Doctoral Degrees to the list of qualifications awarded in South Africa and the United States of America.

Subsequent phases will encompass the inclusion of additional qualifications from various countries and regions into the LQEA.

Thinking you may be eligible for New Zealand residence under the SMC? Call the team of licensed immigration advisers at Pathways to New Zealand™ today for an assessment of your situation.