Certain visa types require the primary applicant to meet an English language standard. The standard is tested under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). IELTS is a test designed to assess an applicant’s English language ability. It has an academic test and a general training test – applicants only need to take the general training test unless advised otherwise by a registration or licensing body.
IELTS examinations are available worldwide and information on fees, available test dates and application forms are available on the IELTS website, www.ielts.org.
Where the nominated occupation requires a higher level of English because it forms part of that occupation’s registration, licensing or membership requirement, the visa applicant must have at least the standard of English language proficiency required for the grant of that registration, license or membership. Some visas require the applicant to achieve an overall IELTS score of 6, for example. It should be noted that a score describes an applicant with a “competent” command of English.
The table below describes the English language abilities that can be expected from candidates with different IELTS scores.
The IELTS scores explained
|Band 9: Expert user:||One has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.|
|Band 8: Very good user:||One has fully operational command of the language with only occasional Un-systematic inaccuracies and. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.|
|Band 7: Good user:||One has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.|
|Band 6: Competent user:||One has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.|
|Band 5: Modest user:||One has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.|
|Band 4: Limited user:||Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Have frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.|
Exemptions to the English language test include:
- The applicant is a passport holder from Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America.
- The nominated occupation does not require a level of English language proficiency for grant of registration, licence or membership, and the applicant’s nominated occupation is within the highly skilled major groups 1-3 of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), comprising managers, administrators, professionals and associate professionals.
- The applicant’s nominated occupation does not require a level of English language proficiency for grant of registration, licence or membership, and they have completed at least five years of continuous full time study in a secondary and/or higher education institution where instruction was conducted in English.