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SM5.5 Minimum standard of English language for principal applicants (to 27/08/2017

Note: The instructions contained in this section cease to be effective from 28/08/2017.

  1. Applications under the Skilled Migrant Category must be declined if the principal applicant has not met the minimum standard of English.
  2. Principal applicants under the Skilled Migrant Category meet the minimum standard of English if they provide acceptable English language test results, as set out at SM5.5.5 (no more than 2 years old at the time the application is lodged).
  3. Other evidence that a principal applicant meets the minimum standard of English is:
    1. citizenship of Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America, provided the applicant has spent at least five years in work or education in one or more of those countries or Australia or New Zealand; or
    2. a recognised qualification (SM14) comparable to a New Zealand level 7 bachelor’s degree and gained in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America as a result of study undertaken for at least two academic years in one or more of those countries; or
    3. a recognised qualification (SM14) comparable to a New Zealand qualification at level 8 or above and gained in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America as a result of study undertaken for at least one academic year in one or more of those countries.
  4. In any case, an immigration officer may require a principal applicant to provide an English language test result in terms of paragraph SM5.5 (b). In such cases, the English language test result will be used to determine whether the principal applicant meets the minimum standard of English.

Note: Full consideration must be given to all evidence of English language ability provided before a decision to request an English language test result under SM5.5 (d) is made. If an English language test result is requested the reason(s) behind the decision must be clearly documented and conveyed to the applicant.

SM5.5.1 Transitional provisions for principal applicants invited to apply on or before 11 October 2016

For principal applicants whose invitation to apply was issued on or before 11 October 2016 an immigration officer may, on a case by case basis, also consider the following as evidence of the principal applicant meeting the minimum standard of English if:

  1. Other evidence that a principal applicant meets the minimum standard of English is:
    1. was gained as a result of a course or courses of study in which English was the only medium of instruction; and
    2. (if that qualification was gained in New Zealand) the qualification had a minimum completion time of at least two years and is at least a bachelor degree or it is a post-graduate qualification and the applicant has an undergraduate qualification that qualifies for points; or
  2. they have current skilled employment in New Zealand for a period of at least 12 months that qualifies for points (see SM7); or
  3. they provide other evidence which satisfies an immigration officer that, taking account of that evidence and all the circumstances of the application, they are a competent user of English. These circumstances may include but are not limited to:
    1. the country in which the applicant currently resides;
    2. the country(ies) in which the applicant has previously resided;
    3. the duration of residence in each country;
    4. whether the applicant speaks any language other than English;
    5. whether members of the applicant's family speak English;
    6. whether members of the applicant's family speak any language other than English;
    7. the nature of the applicant's current or previous employment (if any) and whether that is or was likely to require skill in English language;
    8. the nature of the applicant's qualifications (if any) and whether the obtaining of those qualifications was likely to require skill in the English language.
  4. In any case, an immigration officer may require an applicant to provide an English language test result in terms of paragraph SM5.5 (b). In such cases, the English language test result will be used to determine whether the principal applicant meets the minimum standard of English.

Note: Full consideration must be given to all evidence of English language ability provided before a decision to request an English language test result under SM5.5.1(d) is made. If an English language test result is requested the reason(s) behind the decision must be clearly documented and conveyed to the applicant.

SM5.5.5 Acceptable English language test results

The following English language test results are acceptable:

Test

Minimum score required

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) - General or Academic Module

Overall score of 6.5 or more

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

Overall score of 79 or more

Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)

Overall score of 58 or more

Cambridge English: First (FCE)

or

Cambridge English: First (FCE) for Schools

Overall score of 176 or more

Occupational English Test (OET)

Grade B or higher in all four skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking)*

* A score of Grade B or higher in all four skills is required for the OET as there is no overall grade for this test.

Effective 21/11/2016

PREVIOUS IMMIGRATION INSTRUCTIONS

SM5.5 Minimum standard of English language for principal applicants (12/10/2016)

SM5.5 Minimum standard of English language for principal applicants (25/07/2011)

SM5.5 Minimum standard of English language for principal applicants (29/11/2010)

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