The changes will affect the following visas:
In order to be eligible for one of the above visas, applicants will need to satisfy a number of threshold requirements. One of these requirements states that the applicant must have an English language skill level of at least “Competent”. This will mean that the applicant has to achieve a minimum score of 6 in each of the four components of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, or equivalent standard in a specified test. The only exception to this is where the applicant holds a passport from the UK, USA, Ireland, Canada or New Zealand.
Under current High Court authority, an applicant can satisfy the English Language Requirement by lodging an IELTS Test Report (or equivalent) with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship after the date on which their visa application is lodged (Berenguel v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship  HCA 8).
However, the new regulations will reverse this position.
From 1 July 2011, English language test results must be provided with an application at the time it is lodged. If the applicant fails to satisfy this requirement, the application will be refused.
Another change under the new points test is that points will no longer be awarded for an English language test score for achieving “competent” English. In order to obtain points for English language skills applicants will need to achieve Proficient, or a new category of English language qualification, Superior, English. Proficient English requires a score of at least 7 on each of the four components of an IELTS test while Superior English requires a score of at least 8 on each component. In order to claim points for Proficient or Superior English (10 and 20 points respectively), all applicants must complete an English language test and obtain the required score. This includes passport holders from UK, USA, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand.
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