What is the change? The regulations concerning acceptable tests for the evidencing of English language ability have been amended for some visa subclasses.

What does the change mean? Applicants who are required to demonstrate English-language ability and do not qualify for a relevant exception will be allowed to undertake any of the following tests: IELTS, OET, TOEFL iBT and Pearson (PTE Academic).

  • Implementation timeframe: Applications lodged on or after23 November.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) visas for Australia permanent residency, along with other subclasses. Significantly, this change does not apply to subclass 457 visas.
  • Who is affected: Applicants in the above categories.
  • Impact on processing times: The expansion of the list of acceptable test providers will reduce queues to take the test.
  • Business impact: The changes should have a positive business impact; broadening the number of test providerswill reduce visa processing times.

Background: Previously, IELTS was the only acceptable English-language testing provider. As the test dates are quite limited, applicants experienced lengthy delays in obtaining test results and, as a consequence, delays in the visa application process.

The new regulation sets out the test providers and minimum test scores required for each skill level of English:

IELTS 5 in each of the four sections 6 in each of the four sections 7 in each of the four sections


8 in each of the four sections
OET B in each of the four components B in each of the four components B in each of the four components A in each of the four components
TOEFL iBT Speaking 14

Reading 4

Writing 14

Listening 4

Speaking 18

Reading 13

Writing 21

Listening 12

Speaking 23

Reading 24

Writing 27

Listening 24

Speaking 26

Reading 29

Writing 30

Listening 28

Pearson (PTE Academic) At least 36 for the four components At least 50 for the four components At least 65 for the four components At least 79 for the four components

BAL Analysis: The recognition of other English testing providers is beneficial news for clients as they will have access to a greater number of providers, which should in turn decrease the waiting times to sit for the relevant tests.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact

MARN: 9683856

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact