Learning English after you come to New Zealand

When you apply for a resident visa, your family can buy English lessons if they do not speak and understand English. Find out how much you pay and how to get lessons.

An acceptable standard of English

Before we approve your application for a resident visa, your partner and your children aged 16 and older must show that they can speak and understand English.

They can do this by passing language tests or by proving they already speak English.

English language test results we accept

English-speaking background

If your family does not speak good enough English

If your partner and children aged 16 or older do not meet the minimum standard of English for the resident visa you are applying for, you must pay us for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) tuition before we can approve your application.

When your partner and children arrive in New Zealand, they can learn English in the classes you have paid for.

How we work out the cost of English classes

The cost of ESOL classes depends on how well each member of your family can speak English.

If your partner and children (aged 16 and over) speak some English, they can take an English language test to find out what their level of English is. We use the test scores to decide how much tuition they will need. The higher their test score, the less you pay for their tuition.

Their test results must be no more than 2 years old when we accept your application.

Alert

If they are not able to speak English at all or do not take the test, you must pay the maximum charge for their English language tuition.

Applying for a Parent Resident Visa

If you are applying for a Parent Resident Visa and you do not have an English-speaking background, you pay the minimum charge no matter how well you speak and understand English.

English language tests you can take

We only accept results from some organisations that offer English language tests.

Organisation Website
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) IELTS
Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet Based Test (TOEFL iBT) TOEFL iBT
Occupational English Test (OET) — designed for health care professionals OET
Cambridge Assessment English — B2 First (FCE) B2 First (First Certificate in English)
Cambridge Assessment English — B2 First for Schools (FCE for Schools) B2 First for Schools (First Certificate in English)
Pearson Test of English: Academic (PTE: Academic) Pearson PTE Academic

 

How much you pay

The total amount you pay includes:

  • the cost of ESOL classes
  • administration costs for Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) — they arrange the classes, and
  • our administration costs.

If you took the IELTS test

Your overall score Total fees Class fees Administration fee
4.5 or more, but less than 5.0 NZD $1735 NZD $1531.82 NZD $203.18
4.5 or more, but less than 5.0 NZD $3420 NZD $3063.64 NZD $356.36
3.5 or more, but less than 4.0 NZD $5100 NZD $4600.00 NZD $510.00
Less than 3.5 NZD $6795 NZD $6131.82 NZD $663.18

 

If you took the TOEFL iBT test

Your overall score Total fees Class fees Administration fee
32 to 34 NZD $1,735 NZD $1,531.82 NZD $203.18
31 NZD $3420 NZD $3063.64 NZD $356.36

 

If you took the PTE: Academic test

Your overall score Total fees Class fees Administration fee
30 to 35 NZD $1,735 NZD $1,531.82 NZD $203.18
29 NZD $3420 NZD $3063.64 NZD $356.36

 

If you took a Cambridge Assessment English

This is what you pay if you took:

  • B2 First (FCE), or
  • B2 First for Schools (FCE for Schools).
Your overall score Total fees Class fees Administration fee
157 to 153 NZD $1,735 NZD $1,531.82 NZD $203.18
142 to 146 NZD $3420 NZD $3063.64 NZD $356.36

 

If you took the OET test

Your grade must apply to all 4 skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

Your overall score Total fees Class fees Administration fee
Grade C NZD $1,735 NZD $1,531.82 NZD $203.18
Grade D NZD $3420 NZD $3063.64 NZD $356.36

 

Paying for ESOL classes

After we approve your application in principle and before we grant you a resident visa, we:

  • let you know the total amount you need to pay us for your ESOL tuition, and
  • ask you to complete an agreement covering each person that needs ESOL tuition.

The agreement explains the conditions of the ESOL tuition and gives information about the TEC. We send 2 copies:

  • sign and return one to us together with your payment, and
  • keep the other for your records — your family must take this to their English classes.

Who provides the classes

The TEC is the New Zealand government agency that arranges ESOL tuition. We pay your class fees to the TEC.

Where you can learn English

There are many different courses and course providers in all parts of New Zealand teaching English for speakers of other languages.

Find an English language class

The TEC website also has information about English language course details, locations and costs.

Information for migrant learners | TEC

Starting classes

Your family has 5 years to complete their ESOL classes.

Most people start classes as soon as possible after they arrive in New Zealand, and find that speaking and understanding English helps them settle here successfully.

If you do not come to NZ

If you and your family never enter New Zealand on your resident visa, we can refund the money you paid for ESOL classes.

To get a refund, contact us within 6 months of your resident visa expiring.

Contact us