Publish Date: Sep 16, 2013

The ability of visa applicants to demonstrate that they have a high level of English-language proficiency, including people who want to apply for subclass 457 visas, will continue to be the focus of Australia’s migration program.

In 2008 changes were made to the subclass 457 program that increased the threshold level of image language proficiency that was required to be granted that visa.

As a direct consequence of these changes many people who held subclass 457 visas and who were working in Australia found that they were unable to renew their visas or move on to permanent residence visas because their English language proficiency did not meet the new standard.

In some cases this has had a devastating impact on people. Our lawyers have heard stories of people faced with the prospect of being forced out of Australia simply because their English language was not up to scratch, even though their employer was happy to continue employing them. More often than not these people called Australia home, albeit while on temporary residence visas, and retained no meaningful connection with their country of citizenship.

Similar changes have also been made to the General Skilled Migration program. Previously it was only necessary to demonstrate that you had competent English (an IELTS score of 6) to score 15 points; whereas now you have to prove that you have proficient English (IELTS score of 7) to achieve 10 points and superior English (IELTS score of 8) to qualify for 20 points.

In relation to these changes our senior immigration lawyer, has said: “The changes to the English-language requirement have made it increasingly difficult for people who do not have English as a first language to qualify for General Skilled Migration. It is concerning that people who may be able to make a significant contribution to the Australian community – and who may be able to communicate effectively, albeit at a level that is below the standard imposed by the Department of Immigration -are excluded from visas.”

Our immigration lawyers regularly assist people who are concerned that they may not satisfy the English language requirement. If you are concerned that you may not meet the English-language requirements for either an employer sponsored visa or General Skilled Migration visa you should contact one of our senior immigration lawyers immediately. By getting advice you may have enough time to do what needs to be done to improve your English-language skills to the point where you can stay in Australia.

If you want advice from our senior migration lawyers, please contact them immediately on +61 2 8268 4000.

Article written August 2013. The law may have changed when you read this. Phone us for up-to-date advice.
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