Points for English

Points for English and English Language Requirements

AIS Immigration Solutions specialise in Australian migration laws and visas, and can help you understand the points for English language requirements for the skilled and employer nominated visas. Anyone who is applying for Skilled Migration to Australia will need to prove their English language abilities, however different visa subclasses require different levels of English. We have listed all of the relevant information below however if you are uncertain about which visa subclass best suits your requirements or if you would like some assistance in determining the level of English that you need, please get in touch with AIS Immigration Solutions today.

English Language Requirements Overview:

The new English tests apply for a number of different visa types including:

  • General Skilled Migration, including Skilled Independent Subclass 189, Skilled Nominated Subclass 190, Skilled Regional Sponsored Provisional Subclass 489 and Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 visas.
  • ENS Subclass 186
  • RSMS Subclass 187
  • Business Migration
  • Distinguished Talent Subclass 124
  • Former Resident Subclass 151

There are a number of different English tests that meet the requirements of the visas including TOEFL, Pearson and OET. The TOEFL test is readily available and is the least expensive option, however the Pearson test provides results within 5 days as well as the ability to forward results to various recipients, making it the ideal option for people who need their results as soon as possible. The main benefit of the OET test is that there is no requirement to sit all 4 modules on the same date. There is more detailed information about each of the test option at the bottom of this page.

English Language Requirements:

The required level of English depends on the visa subclass that you are applying for and there are four different levels of English that may be relevant:

  • Superior English: 20 points in GSM points test
  • Proficient English: 10 points in GSM points test
  • Competent English: threshold requirement for General Skilled Migration and ENS/RSMS Direct Entry
  • Vocational English: threshold requirement for ENS/RSMS Temporary Residence Transition Stream
  • Functional English: for secondary applicants seeking to avoid paying the English Language Charge

Timing of English Test:

It can take some time to book, sit and receive the results for your English test so we recommend planning to take the test well ahead of time. The timing of the English language requirement also varies depending on the visa that you are applying for – General Skilled Migration visas require the test at the time of invitation whereas the RSMS and ENS visas require it at the time of application.

Tests can be conducted and results are considered valid up to 3 years prior to lodgement of an application. The only exception to this is for functional English, which requires testing to have been done within 12 months before lodgement.

Acceptable English Tests:

The IELTS test / IELTS Australia /computer-delivered IELTS are the most common way of evidencing English language ability. Either the Academic or General Training versions of the test are acceptable to the Department of Immigration, but some skills assessing authorities require applicants to sit the Academic version. You will need to obtain a minimum score in each band of the IELTS (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking) in a single sitting.

AIS Immigration Solutions can discuss the pros and cons of each type of English test and help you select the best option for your circumstances. Book a Skype meeting with us to discuss in more detail.

English Language Requirements:

Vocational English:

Vocational English is the required level to obtain ENS and RSMS visas through the Temporary Residence Transitional stream for people who have held a 457 visa for two years with an employer. Required scores to establish Vocational English are as follows:

  Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 5 5 5 5
TOEFL IBT 4 4 14 14
PTE Academic 36 36 36 36
Cambridge (CAE) 154 154 154 154

Competent English Requirements:

For the majority of skilled visas, applicants will need to achieve a Competent English score to meet the minimum threshold criteria. If you hold a passport from Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States or Ireland, you can establish Competent English without completing an English test.

The following scores are required to obtain a Competent English score:

  Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 6 6 6 6
TOEFL IBT 12 13 21 18
PTE Academic 50 50 50 50
Cambridge (CAE) 169 169 169 169

Competent English gives you 0 points on the Skilled Migration Points Test, but is an essential requirement to be able to apply for a skilled visa.

Proficient English:

Applicants who are able to demonstrate Proficient English will earn an additional 10 points for English Language ability towards their Skilled Migration Points Test. Native English speakers must still take English language testing to obtain points for Proficient English or higher.

Scores required for Proficient English are as follows:

  Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 7 7 7 7
TOEFL IBT 24 24 27 27
PTE Academic 65 65 65 65
Cambridge (CAE) 185 185 185 185

Superior English:

Applicants that demonstrate Superior English will be awarded the maximum of 20 points for English language ability. The minimum required scores to achieve Superior English are:

  Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 8 8 8 8
TOEFL IBT 28 29 30 26
PTE Academic 79 79 79 79
Cambridge (CAE) 200 200 200 200

Functional English:

If your spouse or partner has a level of English that is less than Functional English then you will be required to pay the “English Education Charge”, which covers the cost of English language tuition when applying for a Skilled Migration visa. Applicants can prove functional English ability by providing evidence of one of the following:

  • Completion of a degree, higher degree, diploma or trade certificate that required at least 2 years of study in English medium
  • Completion of all years of primary education and at least 3 years of secondary education in English medium; or
  • Completion of at least 5 years of secondary education in English medium; or
  • Scoring at least 4.5 averaged over the four components of the IELTS test within the 12 months before application, or during processing; or
  • Completion in Australia of at least 1 year of full-time study or equivalent part-time study towards a degree, higher degree, diploma, or associate diploma in English medium.
  • In some circumstances, functional English can be established via interview

You can also demonstrate functional English by completing an English test and scoring as follows:

  Average across test components only
PTE Academic 30
OET n/a
Cambridge (CAE) 147

English Capability Tests:


The TOEFL iBT is taken via the internet. There are more than 50 test dates each year, and there is a wide range of test locations throughout the world.

The test takes approximately 4.5 hours to complete and has the following structure:

  1. Reading: 60-80 Minutes
  2. Listening: 120-180 Minutes
  3. Speaking: 20 Minutes
  4. Writing: 50 Minutes

TOEFL scores are available approximately 10 days after the test date. They can be viewed online, and a hard copy is sent approximately 13 days after the test date.

The current cost to undertake the TOEFL iBT in Australia is $240, well under the current cost of IELTS ($330).

PTE Academic:

The Pearson Test of English Academic is structured as follows:

  1. Speaking and writing: 77 – 93 minutes
  2. Reading: 32 – 41 minutes
  3. Listening: 45 – 57 minutes

Overall, the test takes 3 hours. Results are available within 5 working days, and can be accessed by logging into an online account. It is possible to forward results to institutions via the online account also. This compares favourably with IELTS – results currently take 2 weeks to become available, and there is no online account facility for test takers.

The cost to do the PTE Academic test in Australia is $330 – exactly the same as IELTS. Locations and test dates are less extensive than the TOEFL.

Speak to one of our helpful migration assistants today on +61 7 3216 0052 or send us an enquiry for assistance with your visa application and English requirements.