New Zealand immigration changes

07 March 2008

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A number of changes to New Zealand immigration rules will come into effect on 31 March 2008, most notably in regard to English language requirements.

Under the new rules, New Zealand immigration authorities are removing requirements for applicants under the Skilled Migration Category to pre-purchase English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) tuition, if needed. Pre-paid ESOL tuition was required of migrants who were not the main applicant, such as spouses.

In addition, the period of entitlement for ESOL tuition funded through pre-purchased fees will be extended from 3.5 years to 5 years. This policy will be extended to existing holders of valid ESOL tuition contracts who have not as yet taken up their entitlement.

Under various policies where a migrant needs to prove English language ability, an immigration officer must give full consideration to all "alternative evidence" of English language provided before deciding to request and International English Language Testing System (IELTS) certificate. If they do request a certificate, they must document and explain to the applicant why the request is being made.