English Language Requirements

What are the English language requirements for the Skilled Migrant Category?

Principal applicants of resident visa applications and their partners and dependent children aged 16 and older are required to meet a minimum standard of English. 

The required minimum standards are different for principal applicants and for family members.

You will have to state your English language standard in your Expression of Interest.

During the verification of your points claim Immigration New Zealand will need to be convinced that your claim to meet the minimum standard is credible. 

If an applicant does not provide a plausible confirmation of the required minimum standard of English in their Expression of Interest Immigration New Zealand will not be issuing an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for residence. 

 

In short: at the time of expressing an interest, a person needs to confirm that they

  • meet the minimum standard because they have completed a test and obtained the required score; or 
  • meet the other requirements relating to country of citizenship and residence or qualifications obtained in the specified countries. 

 

Required level of English for Skilled Migrant Category applicants:

Principal applicants meet the minimum standard of English if

  • they can provide an IELTS certificate showing an overall band score of at least 6.5 in the General or Academic Module,
  • their recognised qualification was taught entirely in English,
  • they have been employed in skilled employment in New Zealand for at least 12 months or
  • otherwise meet the minimum standard.

Partners and Children aged 16 and over meet the minimum standard of English if

  • they can provide an IELTS certificate showing an overall band score of at least 5 in the General or Academic Module,
  • their recognised qualification was taught entirely in English,
  • they have been employed in skilled employment in New Zealand for at least 12 months,
  • they have an English speaking background or
  • otherwise meet the minimum standard.

What does that mean: 'otherwise' meet the minimum standard?

Indications that somebody might be considered a competent user of English may include but are not limited to

  • the country in which the applicant currently resides;
  • the country(ies) in which the applicant has previously resided;
  • the duration of residence in each country;
  • whether the applicant speaks any language other than English;
  • whether members of the applicant's family speak English;
  • whether members of the applicant's family speak any language other than English;
  • the nature of the applicant's current or previous employment (if any) and whether that is or was likely to require skill in English language;
  • the nature of the applicant's qualifications (if any) and whether the obtaining of those qualifications was likely to require skill in the English language.

In any case a visa or immigration officer may require an applicant to provide an IELTS certificate to determine whether the applicant or family members meet the minimum standard of English.

 

Please note: You will have to state your English language standard in your Expression of Interest. 

 

Pre-purchase of ESOL tuition

Instead of meeting the minimum standard of English, non-principal applicants may pre-purchase ESOL tuition.

ESOL tuition must be pre-purchased  by paying the required charge to Immigration New Zealand, who collect this charge on behalf of the Tertiary Education Commission, TEC.

The amount of ESOL tuition to be purchased will be determined by the average IELTS score. It ranges from NZ$1,735 to 6,795. If the applicant has not submitted IELTS test results, the maximum charge applies.

Applicants must pay any ESOL charge before a resident visa is granted.

 

If you think that you might have difficulties demonstrating that you or any family members meet the required level of English, please talk to one of our Licensed Immigration Advisers. They will know whether you will have to provide an IELTS test result or might be able to pre-purchase ESOL tuition.

 

Go back to our Quick Self-Check Guide.

 

Read more about becoming a New Zealand resident through the Skilled Migrant Category:

Ask our Licensed Immigration Advisers

If you want to find out more about obtaining the right visa for New Zealand, contact Julia Cooke, Licensed Immigration Adviser at NZIC.

Ask Julia for a Free Assessment