Changes to Apply from March 2018 to ENS and RSMS

The main changes Changes to Apply from March 2018 to ENS and RSMS which will apply from March 2018 are as follows:

Occupations List

Applicants must in general have an occupation on the shorter MLTSSL (Medium Long Term Strategic Skills List) to apply for an Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa from March 2018. Extra occupations will be available for the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS), but it is not yet clear which occupations these will be. If your occupation is not on the MLTSSL, you may no longer be eligible for permanent residence through the ENS or RSMS program from March 2018

Applicants for ENS and RSMS must be under 45 at the date of application from March 2018. Currently, 457 holders applying for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream can be under 50 when applying
Minimum Salary

From March 2018, applicants must have a base salary of at least Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT – currently $53,900) to qualify. There is currently no minimum salary applicable to ENS and RSMS visas.
Work on 457 Visa – TRTS Requirement

Currently 457 holders who have worked for their employer in their position for the last 2 years may be eligible for ENS or RSMS through the Temporary Residence Transition Stream (TRTS). The TRTS is a streamlined pathway which may not require the same skills assessment, age, English language ability and health requirements as the Direct Entry Stream. From March 2018, 3 years of work experience on a 457 will be required instead of the current 2 year requirement
Training Levy

A training levy will be applicable to all ENS and RSMS applications. The amount will depend on the turnover of the sponsoring business and will be $3,000 for small businesses and $5,000 for businesses with turnover of $10 million or more.
Grandfathering Provisions for 457 Holders or Applicants as of 18 April 2017

The Department of Immigration has announced that 457 holders and applicants as of 18 April 2017 will not need to meet all of the new requirements.
These “grandfathered” 457 holders have access to transitional provisions which would preserve their eligibility for ENS and RSMS through the Temporary Residence Transition Stream.

To be eligible for the transitional provisions, you must either have:

Held a 457 visa as of 18 April 2017; or
Have a pending 457 visa application as of 18 April 2017, and this application was subsequently granted
Grandfathered applicants will not need to meet all the new requirements when applying for Temporary Residence Transition Stream ENS and RSMS visas from March 2018, and in particular:
Occupation: grandfathered applicants will be able to apply even if their occupation is not on the MLTSSL
Age: they will be able to apply providing they are under 50 years
Work Experience on 457 Visa: they can qualify once they have worked in their occupation for their employer on a 457 visa for 2 years

Grandfathered applicants will still need to meet the requirements for minimum salary (TSMIT) and payment of the training levy from March 2018.
RSMS Postcodes

A new legislative instrument has been released yesterday which specifies the postcodes for RSMS, as well as the Regional Certifying Bodies. The Perth Metropolitan Area is now excluded from the RSMS program, though it is still possible to apply if your position is located in a postcode specified in the instrument.
The instrument comes into effect on 17 November 2017.

State Nomination Update August 2017

State Nomination is very beneficial when applying for General Skilled Migration.

Even though the State Migration Plans only reopened in July 2017, there have already been some changes announced by various states and territories.

This article explains some of the recent changes

ACT Offshore Program Closed

Effective 23 August 2017, the ACT offshore program will be more limited.
If you are living overseas, you will need to show “close ties” to the ACT – this could be either:

A job offer in your nominated occupation in the ACT; or
Close family living in the ACT for the last 12 months and who are Australian permanent residents or citizens.
People who are resident in the ACT can still apply for ACT nomination, as can people who have completed a PhD within the last 2 years from a University in the ACT.
Queensland Suspends Processing State Nominations in 24 Occupations

Business and Skilled Migration Queensland (BSMQ) announces on 21 August that they would temporarily suspend processing of nominations in 24 occupations.
The suspension will be until further notice, so it is not yet clear if processing will recommence at some stage during the 2017-18 program year.

Occupations were removed in the following fields:

Hospital and Retail Pharmacists
Mechanical Engineers
Public Relations
Interior Designers
Insurance Agents
It is not yet clear if the suspension also applies to PhD graduates from Queensland.

South Australia Program Filling Fast for Popular Occupations

South Australia has been very active in nominating applicants. There are a number of IT specialisations which are now on the “Special Conditions Apply” list – this means that they are only available if you have close ties to South Australia:
261111 ICT Business Analyst
261112 Systems Analyst
261313 Software Engineer
263111 Computer Network and Systems Engineer
Other occupations which are now on the “Special Conditions Apply” list include:
224712 Organisation and Methods Analyst
232311 Fashion Designer
312211 Civil Engineering Draftsperson
312912 Metallurgical or Materials Technician

ENS and RSMS Applicants, Time is Running Out

Changes to be introduced in July 2017 and March 2018 mean that many people will no longer be eligible for ENS and RSMS applications. Application costs will also increase significantly from March 2018.

This article goes through the upcoming changes and highlights the deadlines by which applications will need to be lodged to avoid the changes.

Which Application Types will be Affected?

The upcoming changes will affect permanent employer sponsored visas. The two main types are:
RSMS (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme): requires a job offer in a regional postcode
ENS (Employer Nomination Scheme): available for skilled positions in any location in Australia.
There are 3 streams within these visa subclasses:
Temporary Residence Transition Stream: requires you to have worked in Australia for your employer for the last 2 years on a 457 visa – 80% applications for ENS are of this type. This pathway requires Vocational English (5 in each band of IELTS or equivalent)
Direct Entry: allows an application to be lodged without having first held a 457 visa. This pathway requires your occupation to be on a specific list and has a higher English requirement – Competent (6 in each band of IELTS or equivalent)
Labour Agreement: where the employer has negotiated a labour agreement directly with the Department of Immigration – only very few labour agreements have provision for permanent visas.
The ENS Direct Entry option requires you to have an occupation on the STSOL. The STSOL has 432 occupations and covers most management, professional, associate professional and trade occupations, with some exceptions.
You would need to meet one of the following eligibility pathways for the ENS Direct Entry Stream:

Skills assessment and at least 3 years of work experience in your occupation; or
Minimum base salary of $180,000; or
NZ citizen or family member who has worked for their employer for 2 of the last 3 years; or
Nominated for certain scientific or academic positions
The RSMS Direct Entry option requires you to have an occupation on the RSMSOL. The RSMSOL is very broad and has 673 occupations.
Skills assessment is not required in general for the RSMS Direct Entry Stream, unless you have nominated a trade occupation and do not hold an Australian trade certificate. Virtually all RSMS applications are via the Direct Entry Stream.

Applicants Between 45 and 49 No Longer Eligible

Applicants currently need to be under 50 when they lodge to be eligible for ENS or RSMS.
From 1 July 2017, applicants for the Direct Entry Stream of ENS and RSMS will need to be under 45 when they apply. It is possible that exemptions may apply for people 45 or over but are likely to be very limited.

The Department of Immigration has indicated that the age limit for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream will not change until March 2018, so applicants in this pathway should have longer to apply. However, we still recommend lodging without delay as changes could potentially come into effect sooner than indicated by Immigration.

Higher English Requirement from July 2017

Applicants in the Temporary Residence Transition Stream can currently qualify for an ENS or RSMS visa with only Vocational English. From 1 July, they will need Competent English as is already required for Direct Entry applicants.
Increased Work Experience Requirements from March 2018

Work experience requirements will be increased for employer sponsored visas from March 2018 as follows:

A minimum of 3 years of work experience in your occupation will be required to qualify for ENS and RSMS visas. Currently, there is no minimum work experience requirement for many pathways for RSMS and ENS visas.
Applicants for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream of ENS and RSMS will need to show 3 years of work experience with their employer, rather than the current 2 years.
2 years of work experience will be required to qualify for a Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa which will replace the 457 visa from March 2018. Currently, if you have a relevant qualification, no work experience is required to obtain a 457 visa.
This will have a significant impact on:

RSMS Applicants: currently, applicants with relevant qualifications can apply for RSMS without needing any work experience
People Currently in Australia on 457s: 457 holders are currently eligible for a Temporary Residence Transition Stream ENS or RSMS visa after 2 years with their employer. This will increase to 3 years from March 2018
International Students and Recent Graduates: many international students and recent graduates are currently eligible for a 457 visa, then for an ENS visa through the Temporary Residence Transition Stream after working for their employer for 2 years. This pathway will no longer be available from March 2018 because 2 years of work experience will be required for the TSS visa
More Restrictive Occupations List from March 2018

From March 2018, only applicants with an occupation on the MLTSSL will be eligible for permanent employer sponsored visas, though it appears that some additional occupations may be available for regional positions.
The MLTSSL has only 183 occupations, mainly in accounting, engineering, IT, medical and allied health and trades. Currently, approximately 70% of ENS and RSMS applications are for people in occupations which are not on the MLTSSL. 60% of 457 visa holders are in an occupation which is not on the MLTSSL.

This change will have a significant impact on applicants for ENS and RSMS, and if you are currently eligible you will need plan to lodge your application prior to March 2018.

Additional Training Levies from March 2018

From March 2018, a training levy will be payable when applying for an ENS or RSMS visa. The amount will be $3,000 for smaller businesses with turnover of less than AUD 10 million, or $5,000 for larger businesses.
It is not yet clear whether this payment can be made by the ENS or RSMS visa applicant, or whether it must be paid by the employer. If it can only be paid by the employer, this could be a significant disincentive to employers in supporting an ENS or RSMS application.

Regardless, the additional cost will be significant – to avoid this, make sure that your application is lodged prior to March 2018.

Budget 2017-18: Immigration Changes

The Commonwealth 2017-18 Budget was handed down last night. Important initiatives affecting visa applicants were announced:

Employers who sponsor employees for temporary and permanent visas to pay a training levy
More details on temporary parent visas to apply from 1 November 2017
Visa application charge increases to apply from 1 July 2017
Training Levy for Employers Sponsoring Staff

From March 2018, employers will pay a training levy which will go towards the Skilling Australians Fund. The Skilling Australians Fund will fund training of Australians in apprenticeship and trainee programs to develop skills of local workers.
This will replace the current training benchmarks for employers using the 457 and ENS programs. This is likely to make it more straightforward for employers to comply with the training obligation, albeit somewhat more expensive.

The amount payable will depend on the size of the business, with those with turnover of at least $10 million will pay more. They payments will apply to both the Temporary Skills Shortages (TSS) visa and permanent employer sponsored visas (ENS and RSMS).

The payment for TSS visa holders will apply on an annual basis per employee. It is not yet clear how the fee will be collected – it could either be paid upfront with the visa application charge or an invoice might be issued at the end of each financial year. It appears that the fee will apply based on each sponsored employee based on the proportion of the year the employee was working for the employer.

For permanent employer sponsored applications, the fee will be a one-off fee and is likely to be collected on application.

The training levies are summarised below:

Small Business Large Business (turnover $10m or more)
TSS $1,200 $1,800
RSMS/ENS $3,000 $5,000
We now also have full details of the fees for the new Temporary Skills Shortages Visa – these are in line with expectations and are summarised below:

Stream Main Applicant Dependent 18 or Over Dependent Under 18
Short-Term Stream (2 year validity) $1,150 $1,150 $290
Medium-Term Stream (4 year validity) $2,400 $2,400 $600
Temporary Sponsored Parent Visas

More information on the new temporary sponsored parent visas was made available.
The new visas will be introduced in November 2017 and will require sponsorship by an Australian permanent resident or citizen child. It is quite possible that the parent would not be required to meet the balance of family test, unlike other parent visas.

The visa will be valid for either 3 years, or 5 years. The application fee for the 3-year option will be $5,000 whilst the 5-year option will cost $10,000. It will be possible to renew the visa, but this will need to be done from outside Australia. A stay of up to 10 years will be allowed in total.

Parents on the new visas will not be eligible for Medicare and the sponsoring child will be liable for any medical expenses, including aged care.

15,000 of the new temporary sponsored parent visas will be available each program year. This is a big increase from the current allocation of 8,675 places for parent visas. Accordingly, we would expect waiting times to be considerably less than contributory parent visas (2 years+) and non-contributory parent visas (30 years+).

The current parent visa categories will remain open to applications. Holders of the new temporary parent visas will not be able to apply onshore for permanent parent visas, but it is possible they might be able to lodge an application offshore. We will need to wait for details of how many places will be available for permanent parent visa categories and this is likely to have a significant impact on waiting times.

It is not yet clear whether the additional 15,000 places will be considered part of the migration program or not. Overall, the migration program will remain at 190,000 places. Interestingly, the Minister for Immigration in his Budget announcement has indicated that this is a ceiling for the program and he may well accept a program outcome lower than this.

Visa Application Charge increases

Visa Application Fees will be increased on an annual basis in line with inflation. This restores the previous practice which applied prior to 2007.
The new fees will apply from 1 July 2017 – for most visa types, the increase is around 2%. Changes for some common visa types are below:

Visa Type Current Fee From 1 July 2017 % Increase
Student $550 $560 1.8%
General Skilled Migration $3,600 $3,670 1.9%
Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 $1,470 $1,500 2.0%
Partner Temporary $6,965 $7,000 0.5%
Parent (Contributory) $3,695 $3,945 6.8%
457 $1,060 $1,080 1.9%
ENS/RSMS $3,600 $3,670 1.9%
Visitor $135 $140 3.7%
Bridging B $140 $145 3.6%
Business Migration $4,780 $4,875 2.0%
Significant Investor Visa (SIV) $7,010 $7,150 2.0%
Applicants for contributory parent visas will be glad to hear that the increase to the application fee is only 6.8% from 1 July – previous indications suggested that fees might be increased significantly.

The fact sheet on fee increases also states that the fee increases do not apply to Second Visa Application Charges. The second Visa Application Charge for contributory parent visas is significant (currently $43,600 per parent).

Impact of Employer Sponsored Changes

1. Current 457 Visa Applicants

If your 457 application has not yet been lodged or is pending, you will be affected by the changes in the occupations list.
This would cover both:

Occupations removed from the new list (the STSOL); and
Occupations with caveats such as minimum salary, minimum work experience, position details and size/nature of business

If your application is pending and you are in one of the affected occupations, you are likely to receive correspondence from Immigration asking if you are able to meet the new requirements.
You may need to then provide further documentation or your employer may need to increase your base salary.

If you are unable to meet the new requirements, you have the option of either withdrawing your application or having it refused.

You may be able to re-lodge, and it may be better to lodge in a different nominated occupation.

Alternatively, you may consider applying for an RSMS visa which has a wider range of occupations. The caveats on salary level, business size and position only apply to 457 visas, and you may be eligible for an ENS visa which is not subject to the same caveats.

2. Current ENS Applicants

If you have lodged your ENS application prior to 19th of April and is still in process, you will not be affected by the changes to the occupations list.
If you are looking at applying for an ENS visa through the Direct Entry Stream, you will be unable to apply if your occupation has been removed from the list.

If you are currently on a 457 visa and considering applying for an ENS visa through the Temporary Residence Transition Stream, you will not be affected by the changes immediately. You should apply without delay to avoid the impact of future changes.

3. Current 457 Holders

The announced changes do not directly affect the work rights or visa duration for current 457 holders. However, there are consequences 457 holders should be aware of:
Changing Employer

If your occupation has been removed or has caveats, this will impact on you changing employer because a new nomination would need to be lodged.
Extending your 457 Visa

If you are wish to extend your 457 visa, this would involve a new application and you would need to be aware of the following:
If your occupation has been removed from the list or is subject to caveats, you may not be able to extent
If your occupation is on the STSOL but not the MLTSSL, your 457 extension would be only valid for 2 years. Future changes may mean you can only extend once
Applying for Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas

If your occupation is on the STSOL but not the MLTSSL, you may no longer be eligible for ENS after March 2018 (see below).
You may also need to work for your employer for 3 years rather than the current 2 years if applying for the ENS Temporary Residence Transition Stream – it is not yet clear when this change will come into effect.

4. Future 457 Applicants

The 457 visa will be abolished from March 2018. The 457 will be replaced by the Temporary Skills Shortages (TSS) visa from this date.
The TSS visa will have higher requirements than the current 457 visa – in particular:

Minimum of 2 years work experience
Labour Market Testing for most applicants
Higher English for 4-year visas

If you are likely to be affected by these changes, you should lodge your 457 visa application prior to March 2018.
5. Future ENS Applicants

Immigration has indicated that they will be making changes to the ENS program over the next 12 months.
In particular, you will no longer be eligible for either the Direct Entry or Temporary Residence Transition Stream unless you have an occupation on the shorter MLTSSL. You will also need a higher level of English and will need at least 3 years of work experience. The current age limit will also reduce from 49 to 44.

If you are currently eligible for an ENS visa, you should lodge without delay to avoid the impact of these changes. This is particularly for people who have an occupation on the STSOL which is not on the MLTSSL (which is most occupations) and older applicants who are between 45 and 49.

6. Future RSMS Applicants

RSMS applicants are currently not affected by the changes to the occupations lists. The RSMSOL is still the same, and covers a wider range of occupations than the STSOL.
Future changes will also require a higher level of English, minimum of 3 years of work experience and a reduced age limit. It is not yet clear, but there may also be a significant reduction in the number of eligible occupations.

If you are currently eligible for an RSMS visa, you should apply without delay to avoid the future changes.

Posted in ENS

Migration to Australia for Nurses

Nursing is one of the most favourable occupations for migration to Australia. This article goes through the most important things you need to know if you are looking to migrate to Australia as a nurse.

Nursing Specialisations on the Skilled Occupations List

The most commonly used nursing specialisation when applying for migration to Australia is the occupation of Registered Nurses NEC (Not Elsewhere Classified). This occupation is on the Skilled Occupations List and is usually the most straightforward nursing specialisation to apply for skills assessment in.
Most nursing specialisations are on the Skilled Occupations List – for example Aged Care, Critical Care and Emergency, Mental Health and Surgical nurses. These would generally require evidence of work experience in the relevant field for a positive skills assessment.

Whilst Nursing Clinical Director is on the SOL, other senior nursing occupations such as Nurse Educator, Nurse Researcher and Nurse Manager are not on the SOL, but are on the CSOL (Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List). This means that state/territory and employer sponsored visas are still a good option.

Enrolled Nurses and Mothercraft Nurses, similarly, are on the CSOL, but not the SOL.

Nursing Support workers – which includes the specialisations of Assistant in Nursing (AIN), Nurses’ Aide and Paramedical Aide are not on the CSOL and so are difficult occupations to apply for migration in.

Application Pathways for Nurses

1. General Skilled Migration

This option would require you to pass skills assessment in your occupation and to receive an invitation through SkillSelect.
Many nurses apply through the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa. This is where you are not sponsored by a state/territory government or a relative, and requires at least 60 points in the skilled migration points test for an invitation.

Those will lower levels of English or who are older may not be able to achieve 60 points independently. In this case, many consider either state nomination or family sponsorship.

If sponsored by a state or territory government, this gives an extra 5-10 points and also gives you higher priority in SkillSelect. Nurses are in demand in most states and territories.

Family sponsorship is only possible if you have an Australian permanent resident or citizen living in a designated area. In this case, you would apply for a Skilled Regional (Provisional) Subclass 489 visa, and the family sponsorship will give you 10 extra points.

Employer Sponsorship

Nurses are often sponsored by employers for visas – possible options include:
457 Visa: This is a 4-year temporary visa, which requires a minimum base salary of at least $53,900 and for the employer to be an approved sponsor
ENS Visa: This is a permanent visa, most commonly applied for once you have worked for your employer for 2 years. It is also possible to apply directly if you have a skills assessment and at least 3 years of work experience in your occupation
RSMS Visa: This option requires a job offer in a regional area. Employers need to meet lower requirements, and there is a wider range of occupations which are possible. No formal skills assessment is required in general for the direct entry option, so it is a good option if you do have a job offer in a regional are
Working as a Nurse in Australia

To work as a nurse in Australia, you must be registered through AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency).
If you are applying for an employer-sponsored visa, you will need to either hold registration or be eligible for registration on arrival in Australia.

Registration would require you to have a recognised Australian or overseas qualification, and to meet the English requirement.

Recognised Overseas Nursing Qualifications

Bachelor-level qualifications from the following countries are likely to be recognised by AHPRA: Belgium, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Ireland, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Singapore UK and the USA.
If your qualification is not recognised, you may need to undertake a bridging course in Australia to convert your qualification to the Australian equivalent.

English Requirement

AHPRA will require you to show that you meet their English language requirement.
This will often require completion of an English language test. AHPRA accepts the IELTS, OET, PTE Academic, and the TOEFL iBT. It is possible to use 2 different test sittings to meet the English requirement – these need to be done within 6 months of each other. Test results are valid for 2 years.

Exemptions from English testing apply if your initial qualifications, schooling or tertiary qualifications were done in certain English-speaking countries.

Skills Assessment for Nurses

You will require a skills assessment if you are applying for general skilled migration, or for the direct entry stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa.
The skills assessment for nurses is through ANMAC (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council). There are 3 main eligibility pathways for skills assessment as a nurse:

1. Registration in Australia

If you are registered as a nurse in Australia through AHPRA, you can apply for a “modified skills assessment”. This would require you to show evidence of your registration and your entry-level qualifications. If you have been registered overseas or have been an enrolled nurse in Australia, you’ll also need to show documentation about this.
Note that AHPRA registration in itself is not sufficient for skills assessment – you will need to go through ANMAC if you need a migration skills assessment.

2. Initial Qualifications in Recognised Overseas Country

This would require you to have your initial nursing qualifications and registration in Canada, European Union, Hong Kong, Singapore or United States.
You would also need to meet the English requirement for ANMAC skills assessment. This may require you to undertake an English test – but you would to be exempt from testing if you have studied for 5 years or more in certain English-speaking countries.

3. Registration in Recognised Overseas Country

This option is similar to the “Initial Qualification” pathway, but would apply if you currently have registration in the UK, Ireland, USA or Canada only. In this case, your initial nursing qualifications can be done elsewhere, but you’ll need to show you have been working full time in nursing for at least the last 3 months in one of these countries.

The Australian Government’s Department of Education and Training reviews the skilled migration program’s Skilled Occupation List each year based on certain criteria e.g., demand and supply or the amount of training needed etc., and flags certain occupations for future removal. Today was the last day for submitting feedback to the Minister for Immigration for consideration in March. The final list will take affect from 1st July next year.

The current list includes 183 occupations and is used to determine the eligibility for Australia’s permanent skilled migration scheme. There is another list which is longer, called the Consolidated Skilled Occupation list, which is for temporary work visas under 457 visa scheme.

Right now, the following occupations have been shortlisted for potential removal from Skilled occupation list.

  • Production Manager (Mining)
  • Accountant (General)
  • Management Accountant
  • Taxation Accountant
  • Actuary
  • Land Economist
  • Valuer
  • Ship’s Engineer
  • Ship’s Master
  • Ship’s Officer
  • Surveyor
  • Cartographer
  • Other Spatial Scientist
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Geotechnical Engineer
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Structural Engineer
  • Transport Engineer
  • Electronics Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Production or Plant Engineer
  • Aeronautical Engineer
  • Agricultural Engineer
  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Engineering Technologist
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Naval Architect
  • Medical Laboratory Scientist
  • Veterinarian
  • Medical Diagnostic Radiographer
  • Medical Radiation Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Podiatrist
  • Speech Pathologist
  • General Practitioner
  • Anaesthetist
  • Cardiologist
  • Endocrinologist
  • Gastroenterologist
  • Intensive Care Specialist
  • Paediatrician
  • Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
  • Medical Practitioners (nec)
  • Barrister
  • Solicitor
  • Psychotherapist
  • Psychologists (nec)
  • Chef*
  • Boat Builder and Repairer
  • Shipwright

Alternative English Language tests for visa applicants

From November 2014, the department will accept English language test scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) and the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) across visa programmes.  These tests are alternatives to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Occupational English Test (OET), and have been accepted in the Student visa programme since November 2011.

The Department of Immigration has announced that the TOEFL and Pearson tests of English language ability will be accepted for immigration purposes from November 2014.

Currently, only the International English Language Testing System IELTS and Occupational English Test (OET) are accepted for the purposes of applying for General Skilled Migration and Permanent Employer Sponsored ENS/RSMS visas.

From November 2014, the following tests will also be accepted:


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 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. You can specify recipients for your scores to be sent to via an online facility, but this cannot be changed after you have taken the test.

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.

Which Visas Will Be Affected?

The new English tests will apply for the following types of visa:

At this point, the new English tests have not been announced as applying to the subclass 457 visa. This subclass is currently under review and a report is due in July 2014, and it is likely that one of the recommendations would be to accept a wider range of English tests.

English Levels

Various Levels of English are Relevant for visa purposes:

1. Functional English

This is the level required for applicants for permanent and provisional skilled visas who wish to avoid paying the English Language Charge (currently $4,500 or more).

Required Scores to establish Functional English are as follows:

Test component Average across test components only
PTE Academic 30
OET n/a

2. Vocational English

Vocational English is the required level to obtain a 457 visa, and also ENS and RSMS visa through the Temporary Residence Transitional stream for people who have held a 457 visa for 2 years with the 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

3. Competent English

Competent English is the minimum (threshold) score for people applying for General Skilled Migration. It is also the score required for people applying for ENS and RSMS visas through the Direct Entry Stream.

Scores required to show Competent English are as follows:


Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 6 6 6 6
TOEFL iBT 12 13 21 18
PTE Academic 50 50 50 50

4. Proficient English

Proficient English applies only to Points Tested General Skilled visas, and is the required score to obtain 10 points for English.

Scores required for Proficient English are:

Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 7 7 7 7
TOEFL iBT 24 24 27 23
PTE Academic 65 65 65 65

5. Superior English

Superior English is to obtain the maximum score of 20 in the Skilled Migration Points Test.

Minimum scores for Superior English are:

Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 8 8 8 8
TOEFL iBT 28 29 30 26
PTE Academic 79 79 79 79


The availability of more choices for English language testing from November 2014 will be good for visa applicants. There will be various advantages for the different English tests, for instance:

  • TOEFL: readily available, inexpensive
  • Pearson: results ready in 5 days, ability to forward results to various recipients after test date
  • OET: no requirement to sit all 4 modules on the same date, results from different dates accepted by Immigration

Change in migration list adds up to fear

UNIVERSITIES fear another crash in international enrolments as a debate rages about whether accountants should stay on a key migration priority list.

The federal government and the Finance Sector Union say Australia is awash with overseas-born accountants.

Annual Update of Skilled Occupation List – 1 July 2013

Occupations removed from the SOL

ANZSCO Code Occupation
251511 Hospital Pharmacist
251513 Retail Pharmacist
323111 Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics)
323112 Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical)
323113 Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Structures)