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2013 English language requirements


Staff member
Everyone included in your Skilled Migrant Category application will have to meet our minimum standards of English. The standard that the principal applicant must meet is different to the standard his/her partner and children must meet.

Principal applicants

For the principal applicant (the person making the application) the minimum standard of English is an International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS) certificate, with an overall band score of 6.5 or better in the General or Academic modules. The certificate must be less than two years old.

However, you may not have to take the IELTS test, if you can show us that you:
  • have a recognised qualification from a course taught entirely in English
  • have ongoing skilled employment in New Zealand, and have been in the job for at least the last 12 months
  • have other evidence that you are competent in English - we will consider the evidence that you provide.
Partners and children

Everyone else included in the application who is aged 16 and over must also meet a minimum standard of English. We accept the following proof of ability:
  • A recognised qualification from a course taught entirely in English.
  • You are in ongoing skilled employment in New Zealand, and have been for at least 12 months.
  • You have sufficient schooling in English:
    • primary and at least three years' secondary schooling,
    • five years' secondary schooling, or
    • tertiary course of at least three years' length.
  • You have certain secondary certificates with passes in English classes:
    • General Certificate of Education (GCE) 'A' levels from Britain or Singapore,
    • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English,
    • Hong Kong Advanced Level Examinations (HKALE) including Use of English,
    • University of Cambridge in collaboration with University of Malaysia, General Certificate of English (GCE) 'A' levels,
    • International Baccalaureate, full diploma in English Medium,
    • STPM 920 (Malaysia), with A or B pass in English Literature,
    • South African Matriculation Certificate, with minimum D pass in English (Higher Grade),
    • South African Senior Certificate, with minimum D pass in English (Higher Grade), endorsed as 'matriculation exempt', or
    • New Zealand tertiary entrance qualification gained on completing year 13 or seventh form.
  • You have a recent IELTS certificate with an overall band score of 5 or better in the General or Academic modules.
In all cases, we may still require an IELTS certificate.

What if we do not meet the minimum standard?

A partner or child aged 16 or over who does not meet the requirements above, they can still meet our standard by paying for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). This allows them to improve their English after they arrive in New Zealand.

You pay for the level of course required depending on your current level of English. If you have no IELTS certificate, or a score below 3.5, you have to pay the full amount. But if you have had an IELTS test and your score was 3.5 or above, you will pay less.

IELTS ScoreYou need to pay
4.5 - 5.0NZ$1,735
4.0 - 4.5NZ$3,420
3.5 - 4.0NZ$5,110
less than 3.5 or no IELTSNZ$6,795

You purchase tuition from New Zealand's Tertiary Education Commission. You must pay us for the ESOL training before we will grant your residence class visa. The fee includes the tuition cost and an administration fee.
Consider before posting:
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  • Better to use the reactions in a post to congratulate/thank.