New Zealand Residence Programme policy changes

by IDP IELTS — February 4th, 2017

In October 2016, the New Zealand government announced changes to the New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP) and Skilled Migrant Category policy. As a result of these changes, there have been updates made to the evidence of English language section under the Skilled Migrant Category. Understand more about these changes here.

What is the New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP)?

The NZRP manages residential approvals for skilled workers, investors, entrepreneurs, family members of New Zealand citizens, and humanitarian commitments. Find out more about the NZRP here.


What is the Skilled Migrant Category?

The Skilled Migrant Category is a points-based residence policy, for people who wish to live permanently in New Zealand.


What is changing – and when?

There have been two changes made to the Skilled Migrant Category:

  • The points threshold for automatic selection has been increased from 140 to 160 from 12 October 2016.Find out more about the points threshold here.
  • The way applicants show evidence that they meet the minimum standard of English language is changing.


What is happening with evidence of English language?

The minimum English language requirement for applicants under the Skilled Migrant Category is an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) overall score of 6.5 across the four language domains (reading, writing, listening and speaking).

Prior to the 12 October change, immigration officers could also consider a variety of alternative pieces of evidence of English language ability in place of an IELTS score.


What are the changes about who has to do a test?

From 12 October onwards, Skilled Migrant Category applicants will no longer be able to use the same alternative evidence of English language in place of a test as previously. The evidence that can be accepted in place of a test will be limited and are listed here.


What does this mean for you?

If you are applying for the Skilled Migrant Category, you will need an IELTS test if you do not meet the criteria as evidence of English. If you are located in New Zealand, you can locate your nearest IELTS test centre here. For those outside of New Zealand, please search by selecting your country here.


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