Learning English in New Zealand

If you’re applying for a Resident Visa, it’s likely that your partner and any children aged 16 and over, will need to be able to speak and understand a minimum standard of English.

When your family don't meet English language requirements

If your partner and children don’t meet the minimum standard of English for the Resident Visa you're applying for, you’ll need to pay us for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) tuition before we can approve your application. Then, when your partner and children arrive in New Zealand, they can learn English in the English language classes you've paid for.

Pre-purchasing ESOL tuition

The cost of your family’s ESOL tuition will depend on how well they 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 - test results must be no more than 2 years old at the time your application is lodged. We’ll use the test scores to decide the level of the tuition they will need. The higher their test score, the less you will need to pay for their tuition.

If they are not able to speak English at all, or don’t take the test, you will need to pay the maximum charge for their English language tuition (unless you’re applying for a Parent Resident Visa).

We accept the following tests:

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

IELTS website

Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet Based Test (TOEFL iBT)

TOEFL iBT website

Occupational English Test (OET)

OET website

Cambridge English B2 First (FCE) and B2 First for Schools (FCE for Schools)

B2 First (First Certificate in English) website

B2 First for Schools (First Certificate in English) website

Pearson Test of English: Academic (PTE: Academic)

PTE Academic website

How much you'll pay

The total amount you’ll be charged includes the costs of the ESOL tuition and INZ and Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) administration costs. The TEC is the New Zealand government agency that purchases and arranges ESOL tuition. The tuition fees go to the TEC.

Test Overall score Total charge ESOL cost Admin fee

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

4.5 or more, but less than 5.0

NZ$1,735

NZ$1,531.82

NZ$203.18

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

4.0 or more, but less than 4.5 NZ$3,420 NZ$3,063.64 NZ$356.36

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

3.5 or more, but less than 4.0 NZ$5,100 NZ$4,600.00 NZ$510.00

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

Less than 3.5 NZ$6,795 NZ$6,131.82 NZ$663.18

Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT)

32 to 34 NZ$1,735 NZ$1,531.82 NZ$203.18

Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT)

31

NZ$3,420

NZ$3,063.64

NZ$356.36

Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)

30 to 35 NZ$1,735 NZ$1,531.82 NZ$203.18

Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)

29 NZ$3,420 NZ$3,063.64 NZ$356.36

Cambridge English B2 First (FCE), or
B2 First for Schools (FCE for Schools)

147 to 153 NZ$1,735 NZ$1,531.82 NZ$203.18

Cambridge English B2 First (FCE), or
B2 First for Schools (FCE for Schools)

142 to 146 NZ$3,420 NZ$3,063.64 NZ$356.36

Occupational English Test (OET)

Grade C in all four skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) NZ$1,735 NZ$1,531.82 NZ$203.18

Occupational English Test (OET)

Grade D in all four skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) NZ$3,420 NZ$3,063.64 NZ$356.36

If you or you and your partner are applying for a Parent Visa, you can pay the minimum charge no matter how well you speak and understand English.

When to pay

If we approve your residence application in principle, we’ll let you know the total amount you need to pay us for your ESOL tuition before we can grant you a visa.

We’ll ask you to complete an Agreement and Schedule for each person that needs ESOL tuition. The Agreement and Schedule explain the conditions of the ESOL tuition and gives information about the TEC.

You’ll need to return the signed Agreement and Schedule to us together with your payment.

You should keep a copy for your records, as your family will need to take it along to their English classes.

English language classes

There are a lot of different courses and course providers all across New Zealand, with a lot of options.

Find an approved course provider near you

The Tertiary Education Commission website also has information on ESOL course details, locations and costs.

Tertiary Education Commission website

Start learning English

If you pay us for English language tuition for your family, we strongly encourage that they start the classes soon after arriving in New Zealand. Speaking and understanding English will help your family to settle here successfully.

Your family will have 5 years to complete their ESOL classes.

Refunds

We can only refund the ESOL costs if you and your family never enter New Zealand on your Resident Visa. If this happens, you’ll have 6 months from when your Resident Visa expires to write to us to ask for a refund.