Are There English Requirements For Australian Visas?

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November 21, 2022

If you’re applying for an Australian visa, you’ll need to provide evidence that you have functional English language skills. However, this isn’t always the case for visa applicants that are from a country where English is the primary language (e.g. USA or UK) or have studied at an English-speaking institution before. However, for most migrants, the completion of an English language test is one of the most important parts of the visa application process. 

 

What Are The Accepted English Language Tests?

There are 5 different types of English language tests that are accepted by the Australian Department of Home Affairs. Each test differs slightly and you’ll need to do your research to understand which test is the most suitable for you. The Department of Home Affairs has different score requirements for each test depending on the type of visa you are applying for. The 5 English language tests are IELTS, TOEFL iBT, PTE Academic, CAE and OET. 

 

IELTS

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English language test used to prove English language proficiency for study, migration and work visas. If you’re taking the test for entry into an academic institution, you’ll likely need to take the IELTS Academic test. However, if you require proof of English language proficiency for migration purposes then the IELTS General Training is only required. The test consists of 4 different components: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. These components are scored between 0 to 9 depending on your performance with a score of 6 representing a competent user while a score of 9 representing expert-level proficiency. 

 

TOEFL iBT

The TOEFL iBT is a test of academic English proficiency, which aims to recreate how English is used in real-life academic settings. Like the IELTS, it contains 4 components: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. However, each component is scored from a maximum total of 30 with a total of 120 points available across all components. The scores are broken into 4 bands for listening and reading, and 5 bands for writing and speaking. For example, a score of 18 to 23 in the Reading component represents a high-intermediate level of proficiency. 

 

PTE Academic

PTE Academic is a test of academic English that uses automated scoring rather than the scoring system used for certain sections of the IELTS and TOEFL iBT tests. The PTE Academic test can be taken in a single 2-hour session at a PTE testing centre. You will receive 1 overall score and 4 individual scores for Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. The scores for the overall test and individual components can range from 10 to 90. 

 

OET

The Occupational English Test (OET) is an industry-specific test used to assess English language proficiency in the healthcare industry. It assesses the language and communication skills of healthcare professionals that are looking to work or study in Australia. The OET consists of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. Each test component can receive a score from 0 to 500 including a letter grade ranging from A to E. 

 

CAE

The Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) test is another general English language test that is used to demonstrate proficiency in English for academic, migration or work-related purposes. Unlike the other tests, the CAE has an additional component – “Use of English”, which is integrated into the Reading component of the test. This component assesses the candidate’s basic knowledge of lexicon and grammar. The individual components will be given a numerical score and an overall score and letter grade (A, B, C and Level B2) will be provided. 

 

What Is The Difference Between The English Tests?

These 5 tests are designed to assess English language proficiency and can vary in terms of the specific language types they are assessing (e.g. Academic English, English for Healthcare settings or General English). The most suitable English test will depend on the type of English you need to demonstrate proficiency in and your preferred test format. It’s worthwhile to research and try some sample test questions to get a feel of each test.

 

English Language Requirements For Australian Visa

The Australian Department of Home Affairs has different English language requirements for different Australian visas. There are 5 different levels of English proficiency you may need to demonstrate.

Functional

This is the most basic level of English language proficiency. It shows that you have the knowledge of basic English to perform everyday tasks. This is usually the level of English language proficiency required for permanent visas that aren’t related to work or study. To demonstrate this level of proficiency you can either show that you’re a citizen of a country where English is the primary language or that you’ve completed a significant proportion of your studies at an English-speaking institution. Otherwise, you must receive one of the following scores:

  • IELTS – An average band score of at least 4.5 based on the 4 test components
  • TOEFL iBT – A total band score of at least 32 based on the 4 test components of speaking, reading, writing and listening
  • PTE Academic – A total band score of at least 30 based on the 4 test components
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) – A total band score of at least 147 based on​ the 4 test component

Vocational

This is the required English proficiency for Temporary Work visas (Subclass 457). It shows that you will be able to navigate an Australian workplace via your ability to understand basic but unfamiliar topics in English. This level of proficiency can be proven by either showing that you’re a citizen of a country where English is the primary language or by achieving the below scores:

  • IELTS – At least 5 for each of the 4 test components
  • TOEFL iBT – At least 4 for listening, 4 for reading, 14 for writing and 14 for speaking
  • PTE Academic – At least 36 for each of the 4 test components
  • OET – At least B for each of the 4 test components
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) – At least 154 in each of the 4 test components

Competent

This is the level of English required for a Skilled visa. It shows a higher level of English language proficiency, which will be sufficient to allow you to navigate a skilled workplace in Australia. You can either show citizenship to one of the English-speaking countries mentioned above or show one of the following scores:

  • IELTS – At least 6 for each of the 4 test components
  • TOEFL iBT – At least 12 for listening, 13 for reading, 21 for writing and 18 for speaking
  • PTE Academic – At least 50 for each of the 4 test components
  • OET – At least B for each of the 4 test components
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) – At least 169 in each of the 4 components

 

Proficient

Demonstrating this level of English proficiency can give you 10 points towards your English language ability if you’re applying for a points-based visa. To demonstrate this level of English you’ll need to present test scores, regardless of your citizenship. The required scores are:

  • IELTS – At least 7 for each of the 4 test components
  • TOEFL iBT – At least 24 for listening, 24 for reading, 27 for writing and 23 for speaking
  • PTE Academic – At least 65 for each of the 4 test components
  • OET – At least B for each of the 4 test components
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) – At least 185 in each of the 4 test components​

Superior

This is the highest level of English-language proficiency and will score applicants with 20 points for English language ability. To demonstrate this level of English you’ll need to present the following test scores:

  • IELTS – At least 8 for each of the 4 test components
  • TOEFL iBT – At least 28 for listening, 29 for reading, 30 for writing and 26 for speaking
  • PTE Academic – At least 79 for each of the 4 test components
  • OET – At least A for each of the 4 test components
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) – ​At least 200 in each of the 4 test components

 

If you’re looking to migrate to Australia either permanently or apply for a temporary visa, you’ll need to start thinking about the English language requirements for your visa. Our team of immigration specialists can advise you on the English component of your visa application. Contact the team at AustraliaMigrate today for more information.

 

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