English Language Level Certification - Guide

NZQA Guidelines for English Language Certification

Check the student visa decline rates that apply to each country on the Immigration New Zealand website

Students from a country with a visa decline rate of 20% or less:


  1. NCEA Level 3 with University Entrance
  2. Certificate of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA)
  1. Completed Bachelor Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Bachelor Honours Degree, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree, but only if:
    • The qualification is obtained from a tertiary education provider from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States; AND
    • The language of instruction was English.
  1. Internationally recognised English language proficiency test listed in the Appendix to Rule 18, but only if:
    • The student has achieved the required test scores for the level of the programme as specified in the Table in the Appendix; AND
    • The scores were achieved in a single test during the preceding two years. Combination of scores from multiple tests is not acceptable.
  1. An NZQA approved English language proficiency test, administered by a Category 1 or 2 institution, where the student has achieved an outcome that is equivalent to or better than those listed in the Table of the Appendix.
  1. Completion of all primary education and at least three years of secondary education at schools with English as the language of instruction.
  2. Completion of five years of secondary education at schools with English as the language of instruction.

Students from a country with a visa decline rate of more than 20%:

  1. NCEA Level 3 with University Entrance
  2. Certificate of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA)
  3. Completed Bachelor Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Bachelor Honours Degree, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree, but only if:
    • The qualification is obtained from a tertiary education provider from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States; AND
    • The language of instruction was English.
  1. Internationally recognised English language proficiency test listed in the Appendix to Rule 18, but only if:
    • The student has achieved the required test scores for the level of the programme as specified in the Table in the Appendix; AND
    • The scores were achieved in a single test during the preceding two years. Combination of scores from multiple tests is not acceptable.

The Table

of Internationally Recognised English Proficiency tests for International Students – as referred to above:


  1. CAE– the examination of Cambridge English Language Assessment called Cambridge English: Advanced, also known as the Certificate in Advanced English, found at http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/advanced/
  2. CPE – the examination of Cambridge English Language Assessment called Cambridge English: Proficiency, also known as the Certificate of Proficiency in English, found at http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/proficiency/
  3. FCE, or FCE for Schools – the examination of Cambridge English Language Assessment called Cambridge English: First, also known as the First Certificate in English, found at http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/first/
  1. IESOL – Internal English for Speakers of Other Languages qualifications by City & Guilds, found at http://www.cityandguildsenglish.com/
  2. IELTS – the International English Language Testing System, jointly owned by the British Council, IDP Education Australia, and Cambridge English Language Assessment, found at http://www.ielts.org
  3. LanguageCert – a set of English Language qualifications owned by PeopleCert Qualifications Limited, member of the PeopleCert Group found at www.languagecert.org
  4. LRWS – listening, reading, writing and speaking.
  5. NZCEL – the New Zealand Certificates in English Language listed on the NZQF (NZQA being the qualification developer
  6. OET – the Occupational English Test of Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment, found at https://www.occupationalenglishtest.org/
  7. PToE – the Pearson Test of English (Academic), found at http://www.pearsonpte.com
  8. TOEFL – the Test of English as a Foreign Language of the Educational Testing Service, whose headquarters are in Princeton, United States, found at http://www.ets.org/toefl
  9. TWE – in relation to TOEFL is the Test of Written English.