New ways to English [pun intended] and the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement

For any applications lodged on or after 23 November 2014 that require evidence of English, there will be a further two approved tests added for applicants to meet their respective requirements. These are in addition to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS—the gold standard) and the Occupational English Test (OET—a test generally used for health professionals). The new kids on the block are TOEFL iBT and Pearson’s PTE Academic tests. Interested people can read the amending notice here.

It is good to hear that a duopoly has been broken (which was really a monopoly as OET test are not seen much for immigration purposes). Any additional choice of avenue is always good for a consumer, particularly if, in IELTS’s case, bookings are harder to come by than some fancy restaurants.

All four tests have their own set scores required to meet either Vocational, Competent, Proficient or Superior English, all of which are defined in the Migration Regulations.

Functional English, which is a requirement for some permanent visa applicants to avoid a steep second visa application charge, has been amended by a further Legislative Instrument to include assessments from Pearson's PTE and TOEFL. The second visa application charge is essentially a fee paid before the grant of the visa to offset English language tuition once that person obtains their permanent visa.

Secondly, due to the conclusion of negotiations of the Free Trade Agreement between Australia and China, there are a raft of new measures that are expected to be implemented to facilitate better travel between the two countries. A Fact Sheet has been whipped up by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is now on their website for curious minds. As only a signing of intent to enter and agreement has been made, there is no set date as of yet.