Work Visa English Requirements

Australian work visa English requirements will depend on the type of visa you’re applying for.

Some visas ask applicants to have “competent”, like the Employer Nominated Scheme 186 visa, others require “vocational” (think the TSS 482 visa), others require “functional” or “proficient” English, like some of the 188 business and innovation visas.

The usual way of proving your English language capabilities is by sitting an English language test an achieving the qualifying score.

There are exemptions from sitting an English test. For example, you don’t need to sit an English test if you are a holder of a passport issued by the UK, the USA, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland.

You can also be exempt from sitting an English test if you have attended English-speaking educational institutions. For example, you can demonstrate you have “functional” English if all of your primary school education was delivered in English.

Australia’s immigration department accepts 5 English language tests that tests skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking. These are:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Occupational English Test (OET)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL IBT)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic Test
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test

The score you need to achieve will depend on the visa you are applying for.

Approved English Language Test Providers and Scores for Australian visas

English Language
proficiency level
Test component IELTS TOEFL
Cambridge English:
Advanced (CAE)*
Functional Average/total/overall across test components only 4.5 32 30 147 n/a
Vocational Listening 5.0 4 36 154 B
Reading 5.0 4 36 154 B
Writing 5.0 14 36 154 B
Spea​king 5.0 14 36 154 B
Competent Listening 6.0 12 50 169 B
Reading 6.0 13 50 169 B
Writing 6.0 21 50 169 B
Speaking 6.0 18 50 169 B
(for points tested Skilled visas)
Listening 7.0 24 65 185 B
Reading 7.0 24 65 185 B
Writing 7.0 27 65 185 B
Speaking 7.0 23 65 185 B
(for points tested Skilled visas)
Listening 8.0 28 79 200 A
Reading 8.0 29 79 200 A
Writing 8.0 30 79 200 A
Speaking 8.0 26 79 200 A

For some occupations, like electricians or architects, you need to be licensed or registered by an Australian professional body before you can practice. In these cases, its common for applicants to show they have a very good understanding of the English language as part of their skills assessment. Passing your skills assessment may be able to satisfy the English requirement for the visa application.

Other professions are so specialized that they require visa applicants to show they have a good grasp of “academic” English, such as doctors and surgeons.

Another aspect of the English tests to consider is the date you received your test score. For a number of visas, like the TSS 482 visa and the ENS 186 visa, your English test score can be up to 3 years old when you submit your visa application. However, for other visas, your test score must be no more than 12 months old at the time of submitting your visa application.

If you don’t meet the required score, you can re-sit the English Test. It is worth getting some tuition or studying for the test if you do re-sit the test.

If you have a query about the English language requirements for your skilled visa contact the Australian Business Migration Group’s registered reliable migration agent.


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