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English language requirements

nz visa eligibility assessment

Minimum English requirements for New Zealand visas

Do I need an English test to apply for a New Zealand visa?

Depending on the visa you are applying for, you may be expected to meet a minimum standard of English. The level required largely is balanced between your purpose for coming into New Zealand and the duration of your stay.

How can I prove that I meet the requirements?

Depending on the visa category, you may prove your English skills via a recognised test such as IELTS ( International English Language Testing System), PTE (Pearson Test of English Academic), TOEFL IBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Test), OET (Occupational English Test), or FCE (Cambridge English: First).

The IELTS test the most widely accepted evidence. Alternatively, you may be able to prove your level of English through schooling, study, tertiary qualification, or work in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America.

Who needs to meet the minimum standard?

Skilled Migrant Category – the principal applicant and everyone aged 16 or over included in the application.
This popular category is meant to attract skilled professional into New Zealand. As such, the requirements are relatively high with an IELTS test overall band score result of 6.5 required for the principal applicant and 5 for their partner and children aged 16 and over. Other English tests are also acceptable and your personal Adviser can make recommendations. If your partner and/or children do not meet the requirements, you may be able to pre-purchase ESOL tuition The amount is calculated based on their IELTS score.

Business categories – the principal applicant and everyone aged 16 or over included in the application (with the exception of the Investor Plus (Investor 1 Category)).
Principal applicants to the Investor 2 category must prove some English speaking background or produce an overall band score of at least 3 in their IELTS test report.
Principal applicants under the Entrepreneur Residence must show an IELTS of 4.

Residence from Work Category – principal applicants under the Religious Worker instructions must meet the minimum standard of English.
All other principal applicants under Residence from Work categories (Talents – Accredited Employer / Arts, Culture and Sport or Long Term Skill Shortage) do not need to meet the minimum standard.
Partners and any children aged 16 and over included in any Residence from Work application must meet a minimum standard of English via an IELTS 5 or via their background or employment in New Zealand for at least a year.

What about temporary visas?

While there are no minimum English requirements for temporary work visas, it is expected that you will be expected to work effectively in an English speaking environment. You immigration case officer must be satisfied that you show sufficient English proficiency to undertake employment, depending on your job offer.

Likewise, there are no English requirements to lodge a student visa application. However, your tertiary provider will ask for an IELTS test to confirm your enrolment, unless you are coming to study English.