Summary of Terms

English-speaking background

We will consider you to have an English-speaking background if:

  • you’ve been in full-time employment in New Zealand for at least 12 months where English was the language used.


  • you can prove you:
    • completed primary and at least three years’ secondary schooling at schools using English
    • completed at least five years’ secondary schooling at schools using English
    • completed a tertiary course of three years or more at institutions using English
    • hold a minimum of a ‘C’ pass in one of the following:
      • General Certificate of Education (GCE) 'A' Levels from Britain or Singapore -  subjects must include English Language or Literature, or Use of English
      • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English
      • Hong Kong Advanced Level Examinations (HKALE) - subjects must include Use of English
      • University of Cambridge in collaboration with University of Malaya, General Certificate of English (GCE) ‘A’ levels.  Subjects must include English   or General Paper
  • or you hold:
    • an International Baccalaureate - full Diploma in English Medium
    • an STPM 920 (Malaysia) – ‘A’ or ‘B’ pass in English Literature South African Matriculation Certificate, with a minimum ‘D’ pass in English (Higher Grade)
    • a South African Senior Certificate, with a minimum ‘D’ pass in English (Higher Grade), endorsed with the words 'matriculation exempt'
    • a New Zealand tertiary entrance qualification gained on completing the seventh form.


In all cases we may still require you to provide an IELTS certificate to confirm you meet our English requirements.


Principal applicants under Religious Worker residence instructions and partners and children of all Residence from Work and Business categories
You may be considered to meet the minimum standard if you can show you’ve been lawfully employed in New Zealand for at least one year (self-employment does not qualify) in a job where English is the language used. You’ll need to provide a letter from your employer giving a contact phone number and address. The letter must state your occupation and dates of employment, and confirm that English is the main language used in your job.