English Requirement | 186 & 187 visa

The primary visa applicant will need to demonstrate ‘Competent’ English’ language ability. The English examination scores that you need to achieve are as follows: 

English Requirement - 186 & 187 visa

  Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 6 6 6 6
TOEFL iBT 12 13 21 18
PTE Academic 50 50 50 50

You can use an English result from an examination completed in the 3 year period prior to the date of lodgement of your visa application. If you use an examination result which is obtained after lodgement, or if the examination was completed before the 3 year period that precedes the lodgement of the application, then this examination result will not be accepted and the Department will likely refuse your visa application.

Results from an Academic or General IELTS examination will both be accepted.

The applicant needs to satisfy the minimum score for each of the test components. Your average score is not relevant. You need to achieve the required result in one examination seating. You can’t accumulate the required scores in each test component over multiple examinations.

English Exemptions


Exempted passport holders


Anyone holding a passport from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, the Republic of Ireland or New Zealand will satisfy the English language requirement. This exemption applies to both the Temporary Residence Transition stream and the Direct Entry streams.


Completing 5 years of study – Temporary Residence Transition stream only 


As the primary applicant in a Temporary Residence Transition visa application, you are exempted from having to demonstrate ‘Competent English’ if you have completed at least 5 years of full-time study in a secondary (high school) and/or higher education institution where all of the tuition was delivered in English. You may need to obtain a letter from the relevant institution confirming that the instructing language of all your studies was English.

Dependent Family over 18 - Functional English

All adult dependents who are over 18 years of age will need to demonstrate ‘functional’ English language ability. This can be demonstrated in a number of ways:

  1. Complete all years of primary education and at least 3 years of secondary education (high school) at educational institutions in which all instruction was conducted in English; or
  2. Complete at least 5 years of secondary education at institutions in which all instruction was conducted in English; or
  3. Complete in Australia at least 1 year of full-time study or equivalent part-time study towards a degree, higher degree, diploma, or associate diploma at an institution or institutions where all the instruction was conducted in English; or
  4. Hold an award (being a degree, a higher degree, a diploma or a trade certificate) that required at least 2 years of full-time study or training; and all instruction (including instruction received in other courses for which the person was allowed credit) for that award was conducted in English; or
  5. Achieve English examination results outlined below – required scores to satisfy Functional English:

Test component Average test score
PTE Academic 30

Secondary Visa Application Charge (SVAC)

As the primary applicant, you must satisfy the English language requirement. If you do not meet the English language requirement, then one of the exemptions outlined above must apply to you. Otherwise, you would not satisfy the relevant visa requirements, and paying this SVAC does not allow you to satisfy the visa requirements. Paying the SVAC is not an exemption to satisfying the visa requirements.

If one of the exemptions apply to you as the primary applicant, then you need to pay the SVAC if you also do not have ‘functional’ English language ability.

This fee is paid at the time of decision so your case officer will contact you at the time that the payment is required.

As the primary applicant, if you don’t have functional English language ability, then the SVAC is $8,520. For other adult dependents that can’t demonstrate functional English, the SVAC is $4,520.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are you sure that an IELTS or OET result is only valid for 3 years?
A: For the purpose of a 186 or 187 visa application, yes

Q: Are you sure that both Academic or General Training IELTS examinations are accepted?
A: Yes

Q: Can I complete an IELTS or OET examination after lodgement and submit that?
A: No. You can only rely on an IELTS or OET result from an examination that was completed before the application is lodged

Q: For an IELTS examination, if I have a high overall score, but did not achieve the specific requirement for some of the test components, will this be sufficient?
A: No

Q: If I do not meet the English language requirement and I lodge my application anyway, can the Department approve it?
A: You need to satisfy all the relevant eligibility requirements. The Department will not approve an application that does not satisfy all the requirements

Q: I don’t satisfy any of the above exemptions, but I have clear evidence of my English language ability (e.g. I’ve worked in an English speaking country for a number of years, I’ve completed a number of years of study but don’t fit any of the exemptions outlined, I have professional membership, I’ve completed other English language examinations etc.), am I exempted from IELTS?
A: The only exemptions are both outlined above. If you don’t satisfy any of the exemptions, then you need to complete an English examination and achieve the scores required

Q: Do dependent 457 visa applicants need to satisfy any English language requirement?
A: Not for the purposes of the visa application (they may need this if they want to work in certain occupations in Australia)

Q: I am the primary applicant but I do not satisfy the relevant English requirement. Can I pay the SVAC instead?
A: No – as the primary applicant, you need to meet the English language requirement. If you do not meet the English language requirement – then one of the exemptions outlined above must apply to you

Client reviews

Please firstly see FAQ and prior comments post which may answer your queries

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Parmjit singh

Hi Peng, My name is Parmjit ,i am on 457 visa finished my two year in last November 2018 and now i want to apply for 186 visa on TRT ,I do not have 6 each band but i have 5 year English study , I completed my 10+2 in year 1989 ( 2 year study in English ) and completed my degree in Hotel management year 2016 ( 3 year English study ) . My question is that , Is that gap of study will be except able ? Its about 28 year gap .Please can you reply .

Joel Saba

Hi Peng,
ENS 186 DIRECT STREAM mostly on internet information mentioned that COMPETENT Level of english is required but during the actual lodgement of ENS 186 DIRECT STREAM is just asking FUNCTIONAL ENGLISH only.Have you noticed this thing?


Raghu Rajan

Hi! I have read your blog and it was quite beneficial. I am the primary applicant and have applied under RSMS 187. I have cleared my english requirements. I wanted to confirm if my wife has IELTS academic, dated September,2016 scoring minimum 6 in each and over all 7 bands. Does she need to take the general Ielts exam or her academic test is accepted also considering the date? If she has to take the exam, what are her english requirements?


I already londge my 187 TRT. All the documents has been submitted and waiting to pay SVAC. Can I pay before case officer request? Any one got experience to pay imi ac by myself???

Andre Sousa

Hi Smith. Have you received the Invoice to pay the SVAC .. I am waiting for 3 weeks and nothing came up yet


Hi Pen,

So I’m holding a 457 visa since January 2017, I’ve done the IELTS test again recently and unfortunately I scored 5.5 on writing this means I have to take the test again even if my overall is 7?


Hello Peng! I received today a message from my CO asking for proof of competent english because the one I submitted was after y lodged my application. I don’t have any english exams with 36 months prior application but i do have one before 36 months and after. What can I do now? Its clear my english ability is competent if I had Ielts 6 in 2015 and ielts 6 now. Please let me knowif there is any exemption. Thanks

Jovit Tegio

Hello. I used IELTs to have my 457 Visa and work here in Oz, I’m planning to apply for PR this year, can i use my college diploma or Do i need to get an Ielts again to apply?thanks for the response


Hi Peng!
Can i use medium of instruction certificate for my TRT if during my 457 visa i used IELTS, i got only 5.5 in writing.
I studied 5 years and medium if instruction in my country is english.
Just wondering if there is policy that I can only use the same exemption during your 457 lodgement & 186 TRT.


Hi Peng,

We are applying for a PR and my husband have an overall PTE score of 36 but speaking is only 26. Does he satisfy the functional English requirement now? Thanks for your help.


Hi there I got the same problem. So do we pass the requirement or not? Is it 30 each band or overalls 30 minimum? Thanks very much for your time Peng.


Hi Peng,

I am looking to be the dependent applicant on my partners 186 visa. I have completed two years part-time study in Australia and have received a diploma after completing studies. Does this satisfy the language requirement and mean I am exempt from completing the English Test?
Thank you in advance.


Hi Peng

If our agent not advised us by submitting the competent English test prior to lodge the visa and he requested us to provide the English test after we lodged the visa. We already provided all the documents to the IMMI for 186 visa but currently facing this problem. Does this mean they will reject our visa. We trust our agent but he didn’t advice us. We lodged the visa 3rd Jan 18 and we submitted the English test in March 2018.
Thank you for your help.

Dinesh Kumar

Hi Peng,

Currently I have 457 visa and completed 3 year work at same place . Now I want to apply 187 transitional stream visa for getting permanent but I don’t have competent score in each module in IELTS.
But I did my 2 years master and 3 year bachelors degree in India in English.
So can I am eligible to apply this visa without 6 band each.


Hi ,

I am on 457 visa and my company is sponsoring me for PR and I have continous 5 years english medium in education. Still do I need to write english exam. Please confirm as I could see in the latest rules that english exam is required.


Hi Peng,
Can you please let us know the answers for below 2 queries.
1) My husband got a 457 in 12/12/17. How long will he have ti wait before applying for 186 ENS? 3 or 2 yrs?
2) I am the dependent applicant and I have completed 3yrs of full time English studies for a BA degree. Will I still have to do IELTS?
Thanks a lot for your assistance. We are confused.


Hi Peng. I am currently on a 457 sponsership. Both my wife and I have doen our IELTS test before we came over as part of the 457 application. We have done the IELTS together oround 18months ago. Now I am applying for a 187 Direct Entry visa. Do we need to do the IELTS tests again ?


Hi I’m the primary applicant of the visa 457 wanting to apply 186 transitional visa
I have score IELtS 5.5 each ( requirements is 6)

Yet according to exemptions option
*functional English ability ,
my spouse had score 5.5 each too so can I apply for PR with this score or
Scoring 6 each by myself is only way to proceed


Hi Peng,

What is the validity period for partner IELTS results? Still same as primary applicant (within last 3 years)?
Or is it 12 months according to the new rules? My partner did IELTS 2 years back and got overall 6.0.
I am not sure If I am applying for 186 Direct Entry visa, does she has to do the IELTS again?


Hi Peng ,
I wanna apply 186 transition stream. I’ve five year study in Australia. I did diploma of hospitality 2 year and 2 year another diploma and 1 year business management diploma in Australia. Can it’s works for 186 visa or i need 6 band .


Hello, my company won at AAT and nomination approved. My lawyer preparing my 186 visa application. English requirements changed to all score 6. I already have the letter to certify 7 years Secondary school was delivered in English. Also, I will renew my British National (Overseas) Passport this week. Can I exempt the English test ? I have no confidence to pass the English test. Thanks