As it can be seen on the Australian Immigration and citizenship website, there are three possible cases for which you need to meet English language requirements. You may need to take the IELTS test if you want to apply for:
- student visas
- skilled visas
- some permanent visas
Depending on what type of visa you are planning to apply for, there are different minimum requirements.
Let’s start with a student visa as our first example.
IELTS requirements for studying in Australia
Regarding the IELTS requirement for a student visa, the absolute minimum score for applying for a student visa 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 cost 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 itself not by the Immigration Department.
There is no one set score for each studying cases, but as a rule of thumb, the minimum overall band score requirements as per education level could be found in the following table:
|Minimum band score||Education 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 (Bachelor’s)|
|6.5 (IELTS Academic, with no band less than 6.0)||Postgraduate university degree (Master’s)|
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. The 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 for Australian Skilled and Permanent Residency (PR) visas
In terms of skilled and permanent visas, the IELTS minimum requirements are more straight-forward. The range of the IELTS scores is divided into 5 different levels. See the following table:
|Functional English||An average band score of at least 4.5 for each of the 4 test components|
|Vocational English||At 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Proficient English gives 10 points in the GSM test.
- 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).