English Requirements for Australian Visas

From 14 December 2022, IELTS One Skill Retake (OSR) will be available for certain test takers.  OSR allows test takers to retake one of the four test components in either reading, writing, speaking or listening (once only).

For Australian visa purposes, the Department will accept IELTS test results that include OSR, with the exception of applications for subclasses 476, 482, and 485, which need scores from a single sitting/attempt.

TOEFL iBT tests taken from 5 May 2024 are now valid as an English test for Australian visa and migration purposes. 

TOEFL iBT tests that were completed between 26 July 2023 and 4 May 2024 will not be accepted for Australian visa and migration purposes as during this period, the TOEFL iBT test being offered was not an approved test. However, tests taken before July 26th, 2023, remain valid for two years

Please note that TOEFL iBT must be taken at a secure test center as the Department does not currently accept any English-language tests that are taken online for Australian visa and migration purposes. 

From early 2024, the English requirements for Student visas will be increased to:

  • IELTS 5.0 or equivalent for ELICOS student visa applicants
  • IELTS 5.5 or equivalent for student visa applicants undertaking foundation or pathway programs with reputable English language training
  • IELTS 6.0 or equivalent for other student visa applicants
  • IELTS 6.5 or equivalent for Temporary Graduate visa applicants

Here is a list of the most commonly used Australian visas and their English requirements.

Level of English required for all Australian visas

Visa Type Level of English
482 TSS Visa
  • Medium and Long Term TSS Visa (482): IELTS 5 (no skill below 5) or equivalent
  • Short-Term TSS Visa (482) : IELTS overall 5 (no skill below 4.5) or equivalent
ENS 186 visa IELTS 6 in all skills or equivalent
RSMS 187 visa IELTS 6 in all skills or equivalent
Most Skilled Migration visas (189 visa, 190 visa and 491 visa and 494 visa)
Competent English (IELTS 6 or equivalent in all skills) 0
Proficient English (IELTS 7 or equivalent in all skills) 10
Superior English (IELTS 8 or equivalent in all skills) 20

Other Australian visas and their English requirements:

188A & 188B Business visas: There is no minimum English language requirement for the business migration subclasses. However, applicants with less than functional English will need to pay an English Language Charge before receiving their visas.

Points are available for:

  • Vocational English (5 minimum in each of the 4 components of IELTS or equivalent): 5 points
  • Proficient English (7 minimum in each of the 4 components of IELTS or equivalent): 10 points

Validity of English Tests

Tests conducted up to 3 years prior to lodgement of an application are accepted by the Department of Immigration.

Applications that need a functional English require testing to have been done at most 12 months before lodgement.

A summary of test score equivalencies for all English language tests accepted by the department is provided below.

English Language proficiency level IELTS TOEFL iBT PTE Academic OET Cambridge (CAE)
Vocational 5.5 Listening & Reading 4.0
Writing & Speaking 14
36 B 154
Competent 6.0 Listening: 12 Reading: 13
Writing: 21 Speaking: 18
50 B 169
Proficient (for points tested
Skilled visas)
7.0 Listening & Reading: 24
Writing: 27 Speaking: 23
65 B 185
Superior (for points tested
Skilled visas)
8.0 Listening: 28 Reading: 29
Writing: 30 Speaking: 26
79 A 200

Partner visa 820 (onshore) and subclass 309 (offshore): applicants with less than functional English (average 4.5 in IELTS or equivalent) will need to pay an English Language Charge before receiving their visa.

Related: English Test for Permanent Stage of Partner Visas

Work & Holiday

Competent English (IELTS 6 or equivalent)

For most skilled visas, you will need to show at least Competent English to meet the threshold criteria. If you hold a passport from one of the following 5 countries, you can establish competent English without completing an English test:

  1. Canada
  2. New Zealand
  3. United Kingdom
  4. United States
  5. Ireland

Increased English Language test scores for Student visas 

Migration (English Language Tests and Evidence Exemptions for Subclass 500 (Student) Visa) Instrument (LIN 24/022) 2024 increases the required English language test scores applicable to a student (sc 500) visa.

The amendments to the test scores can be found in the table below. Please note that the old scores are in black and the new scores are in green.

Test name  Minimum test score    

Principal course accompanied by 10 weeks ELICOS/

standard foundation program/extended foundation program/

eligible pathway program

  Principal course accompanied by at least 20 weeks ELICOS  
 International English Language Testing System (IELTS)  Overall band score 5.5 /Overall band score 6.0    Overall band score 5.0 /Overall band score 5.5   Overall band score 4.5 /Overall band score 5.0
Cambridge English: Advanced test (CAE)**  162   /  169   154  /  162   147  / 154
Occupational English Test (OET)   A score of at least B for each component   a score of at least B for each test component   a score of at least B for each test component
 Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE)   42  /  50   36  /  42   30  / 36
Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT)*    46  /  64   35  /  46   32  /  35

*On 26 July 2023 the TOEFL internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) stopped offering English language tests for Australian visa purposes. A score for a TOEFL iBT test taken on or after 26 July 2023 will no longer satisfy the English language requirement for Student visa purposes. Only TOEFL iBT scores from a test taken on or before 25 July 2023 are accepted for Student visa purposes.

**From 12 February 2024, only results from the paper-based Cambridge C1 Advanced test (previously known as Cambridge English: Advanced CAE) will be accepted for Australian visa and migration purposes. Test scores for both C1 Advanced paper-based and computer-based tests, taken before 12 February 2024, within the specified validity period are still accepted.

Covid-19 and at home language tests​

Some testing centres have tests that you can take at home, such as TOEFL iBT ​​–​ Special Home Edition, OET@Home and IELTS Indicator. DHA does not currently accept these tests.

​​Score Ranges​

English testing organisations will sometimes adjust their score ranges as new research and knowledge about English testing is developed. We consider these changes carefully before we make any adjustments to the scores required for our English Levels. Where it is decided that scores will change, a notice will be put on this website with information on how it may impact yo​u.

If you would like to find out more about the English language requirements or discuss your visa options further, please book an appointment.

Remote or ‘at home’ English language tests not acceptable

When applying for student, skilled and some permanent visas, you will need to meet our English language requirements. The Department does not accept scores from remote or ‘at home’ English language tests as evidence of English language competency. For more information about English language test scores DHA accept for visa purposes, please refer to our English language.

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