Minimum English Requirements For New Zealand Visas


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


English Proficiency Requirements for New Zealand Visas

The English proficiency level required for your New Zealand visa application depends on the specific visa category and the length of your intended stay.

Do all visa categories have English language requirements?

Not all visa categories require English language proficiency. Temporary and partnership-based visas generally do not have English language requirements, although there may be some exceptions. (Please see below for more information on temporary visas.)

English Language Requirements for Family Members of Visa Applicants

Typically, the acceptable English language proficiency level for partners and children is lower than that required for the primary applicant (i.e., the main visa holder or applicant). Please refer to the information below for further details

What are the ways to demonstrate that I meet the requirements?

TTo demonstrate your English language proficiency, you can consider the following options, depending on your visa category:

‍The IELTS test is generally the most widely accepted form of evidence. In addition, you may also be able to provide evidence of your English proficiency through your educational or professional background in certain countries, such as Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, or the US.

Who is required to meet the minimum English standard?

Skilled Migrant Category – The principal applicant and everyone aged 16 or over included in the application must meet the minimum English standard. The requirements for this category are relatively high, with an overall IELTS band score 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 provide recommendations. If your partner and/or children do not meet the requirements, you may be able to pre-purchase ESOL tuition (further details below).

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)) must meet the minimum English standard. 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 score of 4.

Residence from Work Category – Principal applicants under the Religious Worker instructions must meet the minimum English standard. However, all other principal applicants under the 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 5.0 or via their background or employment in New Zealand for at least a year.

Pre-purchase English classes (ESOL tuition)

ESOL tuition can be pre-purchased by partners and children aged 16 and over who do not meet the minimum English language requirements. The fee for ESOL tuition is paid to Immigration New Zealand, which collects it on behalf of the Tertiary Education Commission, prior to the grant of a resident visa. The fee is based on the applicant's IELTS overall band score and is indexed accordingly, ranging from NZ$1,735 (for an IELTS overall score of 4.5) to $6,795 (for an IELTS overall score under 3.5).

Are English language requirements necessary for temporary visas?

English language proficiency is not mandatory for temporary work visas. However, it is expected that you have the ability to work effectively in an English-speaking work environment. Your immigration case officer needs to be assured that you possess enough English proficiency to undertake the employment, based on your job offer.

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