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IELTS requirement for Australian Student, Skilled & PR Visa [in 2024]

Whether you are planning to apply for or extend your Australian visa to work, study or live in Australia, you may be required to take an English language test (the IELTS test).

In short, there are three possible cases for which you need to meet English language requirements:

  • student visas
  • skilled visas
  • some permanent visas

Depending on what type of Australian visa you are going to apply for, there are different minimum requirements.

In this article, we will explain all the IELTS requirements for different visa types in detail. So, let’s first start off with a student visa as listed above.

Minimum IELTS score for studying in Australia

If you want to apply for a student visa, the absolute minimum IELTS score that is required for that purpose is 4.5. However, as this score sits on the lower end of the scale, you would need to undertake a 20-week ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) course before you could commence formal studies in Australia.

Therefore, if you want to avoid any additional costs or constraints by the Immigration Department, you will need to receive an overall score of at least 5.5, but even then, this might not be enough.

This is because the actual requirements for studying in a university, high school or enrolling in a vocational training program, are set by these institutions themselves, not by the Immigration Department.

There is no one set score for each studying case, but as a rule of thumb, the minimum overall band score requirements as per education level can be found in the following table:

Minimum band scoreEducation level
4.5 (with no band lower than 4.0)High school
5.5 (IELTS Academic, with no band lower than 5.0)College, Vocational Education and Training (e.g. TAFE), First Year Diploma
6.0 (IELTS Academic, with no band less than 6.0)Undergraduate university degree (Bachelors)
6.5 (IELTS Academic, with no band less than 6.0)Postgraduate university degree (Masters)

As said before, these were just estimates. Actually, it varies a lot because the minimum IELTS score requirement is highly dependent on what course you want to undertake. For example, for studying IT, you may be required to have an overall band score of 6, whereas, for Nursing, you may need to receive a score of 7 (with no band lower than 7).

So, if you want to find out the exact IELTS minimum score requirement that applies to your case, go and check out any relevant Australian education provider.

Disclaimer: applying for a student visa does not mean that you will only be limited to studying in a university once the visa is granted. A student visa means that you can participate in any eligible course of study. If you want to see more details on student visas, go visit the Department of Home Affairs web page.

IELTS requirement for Australian Skilled and Permanent Residency (PR) visas

In terms of skilled and permanent visas, the IELTS minimum requirements are more straightforward. The range of the IELTS scores is divided into 5 different levels. See the following table:

Level Score
Functional EnglishAn average band score of at least 4.5 for each of the 4 test components
Vocational EnglishAt least 5 for each of the 4 test components
Competent English At least 6 for each of the 4 components
Proficient English At least 7 for each of the 4 test components​
Superior English At least 8 for each of the 4 test components​

Each level acts as a minimum IELTS score requirement for different types of visas.

Let’s start from the beginning:

  1. Functional English is required from each secondary applicant (e.g. a partner, high school-age children, dependent parents and close relatives); otherwise, an English Language Charge needs to be paid for each of them before receiving their visa.
  2. Vocational English is required if you want to apply for an Employer-Sponsored Temporary Visa. You generally have to hold at least a vocational level qualification, hence the name Vocational English.
  3. Competent English is required if you want to apply for a Permanent Skilled Visa. Since the Australian Permanent Skilled Visa is a points-based visa, Competent English is the minimum level of English that is required. However, it gives 0 points in the GSM (General Skilled Migration) test.
  4. Proficient English gives 10 points in the GSM test.
  5. Superior English gives 20 points in the GSM test.

Please note that for immigration/work purposes, you may either take the IELTS General or Academic test, whereas for studying, you need to sit the IELTS Academic test.

In conclusion, as you can see, the reasons for taking the IELTS test vary as much as the minimum IELTS score requirements. To get things straight from the beginning, make sure you understand what score you need to achieve and what test module you have to take (Academic or General).


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