Recently, the Government has announced certain measures to protect Australians, securing the borders, and providing resources to recover from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic. Amongst other things, the plan focuses on immigration and social cohesion by supporting migrants to learn English language and enable them to have the best chance to make a life and succeed in Australia. Being Australia’s national language, the following approaches taken by the Government shed some light on the importance of English language in Australia.
Partner Visa Changes
Partner visas allow Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens to sponsor their married and de-facto partners through the partner visa and fiancés who are outside Australia through Prospective Marriage visa. There are different types of partner visas:
- Prospective Marriage visa – Subclass 300
- Partner visa (Onshore) – Subclass 820 (Temporary) and Subclass 801 (Permanent)
- Partner visa (Offshore) – Subclass 309 (Temporary) and Subclass 100 (Permanent)
Currently, none of the partner visas have the requirement of English language as an eligibility criteria. However, the Government has indicated introduction of a new requirement to learn English language for partner visa applicants and their sponsors from late 2021, to maximise job prospects in Australia, and enhance social cohesion.
If legislative changes are made to this effect, new partner visa applicants and their sponsors will be required to meet functional English requirements or demonstrate that they have made reasonable efforts to learn English by various means, such as completing 500 hours of free English language classes through the Adult Migration English Program (AMEP). It is important to know that this requirement will apply at time of the permanent visa application stage only and not the provisional/temporary visa stage.
The changes are aimed towards protecting partner visa applicants against family violence by enabling them to have an established support network in Australia, where they can know how and where to seek assistance if any such situations arise.
Expanding Access to English Tuition Bill
The Parliament has introduced a new bill, Immigration (Education) Amendment (Expanding Access to English Tuition) Bill 2020, which would amend the Immigration (Education) Act 1971 with an aim towards supporting migrants to learn English. The Bill proposes to expand eligibility for migrants to access English tuition to bridge the gap for migrants who have either exhausted their tuition hours without reaching the level of vocational English, or are ineligible for the program. The Bill proposes to amend the upper limit for eligibility to access English tuition to the higher level of vocational English, which is currently functional English, along with removal of 510 hours limit on person’s entitlement to English tuition under the AMEP.
These reforms may be seen as one of the most significant reforms to the AMEP and is only the first step of the Government’s plan to make “English tuition more accessible, ensure better quality outcomes and encourage greater participation”. The AMEP is delivered nationally across 58 regions by Registered Training Organisations (RTO).
English Language Requirements
|Vocational English||5 for each of the 4 test components||4 for listening, 4 for reading, 14 for writing and 14 for speaking||36 for each of the 4 test components||154 in each of the 4 test components||B for each of the 4 test components|
|Functional English||4.5 based on the 4 test components||32 based on the 4 test components of speaking, reading, writing and listening||30 for each of the 4 test components||147 in each of the 4 test components||–|
You may be able to prove your level of English competency if you have undertaken your education or have completed a degree in English for certain number of years, or are a holder of valid passport issued by any of the specified countries. The changes discussed in this blog have not been formalized yet and thus, are not in effect currently. These are proposed changes that reflect the Government’s approach to strengthen the Australian community by upskilling the language ability. If you want to know more about English requirements or want to discuss any other migration issue, Contact Us or call us on (02) 4626 100 to speak to one of our Registered Migration Agents.