New English Language Requirement for Partner Visas in Australia


The Morrison Government has recently announced new requirements for partner visa applicants and their sponsors in Australia. These changes aim to encourage individuals to make 'reasonable efforts' to learn English, highlighting the importance of English proficiency for integration and employment opportunities.

The government's decision is based on the fact that only 13% of residents with no English skills are currently employed, compared to 62% of residents who speak English well. Additionally, migrants without sufficient English language skills are considered more vulnerable to family violence and exploitation, as they may not know how to seek help or advice.

The number of people in Australia with low or no English language skills has significantly increased over the past decade, reaching almost one million people, nearly half of whom are within the working age range.

Starting in late 2021, new partner visa applicants and permanent resident sponsors will be required to have functional English or demonstrate that they have made 'reasonable efforts' to learn English by undertaking 500 hours of English language classes. This requirement will need to be met at the permanent visa approval stage, impacting those who have already lodged their 309 or 820 applicants if their visa is granted after these changes are introduced.

Functional English can be demonstrated through various means, including

  • English Test scores, such as IELTS, TOEFL iBT, PTE Academic, OET, or Cambridge (CAE), meeting specific score requirements.

  • Holding a valid passport issued by certain English-speaking countries (United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, New Zealand, or Republic of Ireland).

  • Meeting specific schooling criteria, such as completing primary and secondary education in English, or completing higher education in English.

The Australian Government has also increased the migration cap on Partner visas by over 80% this financial year to process the current backlog of applications in the system.

If you are looking to apply for a Partner Visa in Australia, it is essential to understand these new requirements and ensure that you meet them before lodging your application. For more information, you can visit the official government website or speak to a Registered Migration Agent for personalized guidance.