Australia Raises English Test Visa Requirements

Thursday 15 February 2024
The Australian Government has announced increased English language test score requirements for visas, affecting international students and temporary graduates. Starting in early 2024, the changes aim to improve English proficiency and align with Australia's skill shortages. Applicants are encouraged to prepare and utilize resources like the IELTS One Skill Retake.
Australia Raises English Test Visa Requirements

Australian Government Announces New English Test Requirements for Visas

In a significant update that will impact prospective international students and temporary graduates, the Australian Government has announced changes to the English language testing requirements for various visa categories. Effective from early 2024, these adjustments are poised to raise the standards for English proficiency among visa applicants, ensuring they are better prepared for their academic and professional pursuits in Australia.

Elevating English Proficiency Standards

Under the new regulations, the minimum required scores for English language proficiency tests such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or equivalent tests will see an increase across the board:

  • Temporary Graduate Visa applicants will now need to achieve a minimum score of 6.5, up from the current requirement of 6.0.
  • Student Visa applicants will be required to score at least 6.0, an increase from the previous 5.5.
  • English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) participants will need a minimum score of 5.0, up from 4.5.
  • Applicants for University Foundation or Pathway Programs that offer English language training must achieve a score of at least 5.5.

Visa Type and New Requirements at a Glance

  • Subclass 500 (Student Visa): Current requirement is 5.5, which will increase to 6.0. One Skill Retake is approved.
  • Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate Visa): The requirement will rise from 6.0 to 6.5, with no option for One Skill Retake.

These changes aim to streamline the pathway for temporary visa holders, reduce the influx of non-genuine students, and align international student contributions with Australia's skill shortages.

Preparing for the New Requirements

Prospective visa applicants are advised to prepare for these changes by enhancing their English language skills. IDP's registered Migration Agent, Alice Guan, recommends: "Get prepared, sit your IELTS test if you need a higher score, and submit your application early."

Choosing the Right IELTS Test

Applicants should choose between the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests based on their specific goals—academic entry or migration purposes. Both tests are accepted by the Australian government for visa applications.

Improving Your IELTS Score

For those concerned about meeting the new requirements, various resources are available to help improve English language proficiency:

  • Utilize free IELTS practice tests to familiarize yourself with the format.
  • Understand how band scores are calculated to target improvements.
  • Check eligibility for the IELTS One Skill Retake option, allowing applicants to retake a single test component.
  • Access study materials developed by experts and incorporate English into daily life through various activities.

IELTS One Skill Retake: A Closer Look

The IELTS One Skill Retake offers a unique opportunity to improve a specific component of the test without having to retake all four sections. This option is now available in 112 countries, including Australia, and is recognized by universities, professional bodies, and the Australian Department of Home Affairs for most visa subclasses.

English Test Comparisons and Meeting Visa Requirements

When choosing between IELTS and other tests like PTE, it's essential to consider the format and acceptance of each test. IELTS offers both paper-based and computer-based options and is the only major test providing the One Skill Retake feature. It is globally accepted by more than 12,000 organizations and meets the requirements for Australian visa applications.

Availability of One Skill Retake:

  • The One Skill Retake is available for the Subclass 500 Student Visa, providing reassurance to applicants who might not achieve their desired band score in a specific test component. It allows for focused improvement, potentially saving time and resources for the applicant.

Where One Skill Retake is Not Acceptable:

  • For the Subclass 485 Temporary Graduate Visa, the One Skill Retake option is not approved. Applicants for this visa category must achieve the necessary scores across all test components in a single sitting. This requirement underscores the importance of comprehensive English language proficiency for those seeking temporary graduate visas, reflecting the Australian Government's aim to ensure high standards of communication skills among graduates remaining in the country.


The Australian Government's new English language testing requirements reflect a commitment to enhancing the quality of education and professional opportunities for international students and temporary graduates. By preparing adequately and selecting the appropriate test and preparation resources, applicants can navigate these changes successfully and embark on their Australian journey with confidence.

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