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New IELTS rules dubbed "unfair"

New IELTS rules dubbed

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) states that skilled migrants who come to live and work in Australia must possess "sufficient English language ability".

This ability is tested using the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

According to the DIAC, some occupations may require a higher level of English language ability than others.

Many migration agents are struggling to come to terms with new IELTS rules for 457 immigration visas, which have been introduced on July 1.

In particular, it has been brought to Migration Alliance's attention that the DIAC are requesting evidence of "sufficient English language ability" for "on hand" primary applicants of the 457 visa who lodged their application before July 1.

Apparently these applicants are no longer exempted by the relevant Ministerial Instrument, and must now meet "Vocational English" standards (as described in Reg. 457.223(4)(eb) and Reg. 1.15B) or be exempted by a new Instrument.

One of our Australian migration agents has noted that the "Vocational English" requirement falls under a "time of decision" criterion (as described in Reg 457.223(4)(eb)), and that the definition of "Vocational English" in Reg 1.15B includes a requirement that the IELTS test be taken before a prospective 457 visa holder has lodged their application.

This migration agent takes this to mean that any applicant who has not taken the IELTS test in the three years prior to lodging a 457 visa application must have their application refused, unless they can qualify for some form of exemption.

If this is the case, the DIAC may have to refuse huge numbers of 457 visa applications, unless they decide to ignore their own regulations.

Again, such regulations have been described as "incredibly unfair, draconian and punitive". The migration agent feels these new rules will especially impact those currently on bridging visas, who may now find themselves caught in a sort of Limbo between withdrawal and a s48 bar.

The migration agent concludes that most of these 457 applicants probably could demonstrate that they possess "sufficient English language ability" on the IELTS test, but the DIAC seems to have decided to implement this new rule in an "unreasonable" way and hasn't offered any transitional arrangements.

Another of our Australian migration agents has just revealed that one of their clients was just asked to demonstrate that they had "Vocational English" even though their 457 visa application was lodged in May.

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