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Changes to the GSM Points Test - English language requirements

The contents of this article are correct as at 30 June 2011.

On July 1 2011 a new points test came into force for General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa applicants.

All GSM visa applications lodged on or after 1 July 2011 will be subject to the new points test, unless limited transitional arrangements apply. For information on these transitional arrangements please click here.

The English language requirements contained in the new points test mark a significant departure from earlier requirements.

There are 2 aspects to the English language requirements for GSM. These are:

  1. The threshold requirement
  2. Points awarded for higher levels of English language skills
  3. The threshold English requirement

To apply for any GSM visa, the applicant must satisfy a number of eligibility requirements. One such requirement is that the applicant meets the threshold level of English.

The post-1 July points test sets the threshold level of English as ‘competent’, which corresponds to a score of at least 6 in each component of an IELTS test.

Exceptions to the threshold requirement exist for citizens of the UK, Canada, New Zealand, USA and Ireland who are deemed to meet the competent English language requirement.

An exception also exists for applicants nominating some health professional occupations who are required to sit an Occupational English Test (OET) by their skills assessing body. An OET score of B is accepted by DIAC in lieu of IELTS 7.

An applicant must have at least this level of English to be able to apply for a GSM visa.

Note that this is the same threshold level as pre-1 July.

  1. Points awarded for higher levels of English language skills

The second aspect of English language requirements for GSM is that points are awarded for various levels of English. These points go towards the applicant satisfying the pass mark and thereby being eligible for the grant of a GSM visa.

In the new points test, no points will be awarded for the threshold level of English. Points will only be awarded for English language proficiency higher than “competent”.

In addition, a new category of English language proficiency has been introduced. Applicants with ‘superior’ English, which corresponds to a minimum score of 8 in each IELTS component, will be awarded 20 points. Those with proficient English (IELTS 7) will be awarded 10 points.

English Language Level


Competent English



Proficient English



Superior English



The above IELTS scores refer to the minimum score attained in each of the 4 IETLS components.

For any applicant to gains points for English language skills they must complete an English language test before lodging the visa application. This includes citizens of the UK, Canada, New Zealand, USA and Ireland, who will no longer be awarded English points solely based on their citizenship.

Applicants who have obtained an OET score of B satisfy the Proficient level of English and will be awarded 10 points. An OET score of A corresponds to Superior English and will result in 20 points.

The English points awarded under the new post-1 July test are significantly different from the earlier test, where points were awarded for all levels of English above the competent threshold. The pre-1 July test awarded 15 points for Competent English and 25 points for Proficient English.

If you have any questions concerning this article, please click this link to contact Visa Lawyers Australia