English language requirements apply to student, skilled and some permanent visa applications. There are various levels of English competency required. The visa you are applying for will determine which level you need.
English Competency is measured as:
Applicants must provide evidence to prove they have the English competency they are declaring on their application. Proof includes providing evidence of study or having held a passport from certain countries or having been formally assessed by the Australian Adult Migrant English Program.
How is English language tested?
The following aspects are tested as part of English language testing:
Each of these components is given a score, with the sum of these scores giving an overall score. A minimum score must be achieved in each of these components.
The Department of Home Affairs recognises the following English language tests:
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
- Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT)
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CEA)
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
The IELTS test is the most popular test worldwide and offers academic and general versions of the test. The test focuses on language skills in the home and work environments while the academic test is targeted to the academic environment. Both versions are recognised for visa purposes but where the test is required for a skills assessment or university admittance, the academic version is required.
The test takes about three hours with potential scores ranging from one to nine, with nine being the best possible score achievable. The IELTS test is still paper based in most test centres therefore there is a wait on the test results.
Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
This test is computer-based. While the speaking component of the test can also be taken via computer, there is an option to talk to a real person for this part of the test. The test takes about three hours and given the test is computer-based the results are usually available the following day. Scores for the PTE test range from 10 to 90.
Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT)
The TOEFL iBT is widely used as an English language test and is targeted towards the academic environment. This is a computer-based test with the speaking component recorded and digitally assessed by several TOEFL examiners.
The test take about 2.5 hours and each component earns up to 30 points each; with a maximum overall score of 120 points.
Cambridge English: Advanced (CEA)
The CEA is an in-depth, high level qualification that provides proof that you have the language skills that employers and universities are looking for.
A maximum score of 210 can be achieved with at least 160 points required to pass. This test is offered as a paper test or on computer and takes about four hours to complete.
Each of the formal assessments require the following scores for applicants to be considered at a particular competency level.
TOEFL iBT *
4, 4, 14, 14 (L, R, W, S)
12, 13, 21, 18
(L, R, W, S)
24, 24, 27, 23
(L, R, W, S)
28, 28, 30, 26
(L, R, W, S)
*(L, R, W, S) – Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking
As an alternative, visa applicants may be eligible for the Australian English Migrant Program.
What is Australian Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP)
The Australian Adult Migrant English Program is available to eligible migrants to learn foundation English language and settlement skills to enable them to participate socially and economically within Australian society.
The program provides up to 510 hours of English language tuition for migrants granted a permanent visa or eligible temporary visa who speak little or no English. There are over 300 locations delivering the program across Australia.
Eligible participants must also meet the following time frames:
- Register for the program within six months of arriving in Australia
- Commence the AMEP classes within 12 months
- Complete the program within five years
English language tests are a significant part of the visa application process and most visas will require minimum English language skills. For anyone applying for a points-tested visa, a high English test score will go a long way to increasing the accumulated points total thus increasing the chances of a successful outcome.
While Australian borders are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel exemptions may apply under the following circumstances:
- A traveller has a compassionate or compelling reason to visit Australia
- Overseas workers holding a Subclass 482 or 400 visa are required to undertake a job in Australia that cannot be filled by a local employee
Visa Solutions Australia has been successful in acquiring a broad range of exemptions, from critical workers to those needing to travel on compassionate grounds.
If you would like to learn more about any aspect of migration contact Visa Solutions Australia on 1800 828 008.