Clients & English


A migration agent does a client a disservice by not emphasising how important it is for the client to work on improving the client’s competency in English. Clients need to be told in no uncertain terms that a failure to achieve minimum competencies in English at worse will stop the client not meeting the criteria for the visa or  at the very least create a situation where the client. Migration agents at times feel they are showing sympathy for a client in not pressuring the client to improve his or her English.  Clients need to be told the deadlines for achieving a standard of English.  For example there are tens of thousands of subclass 457 visa holders present in Australia who would not have the English competency to score an IELTS test average band score of 4.5 based on the 4 test components of speaking, reading, writing and listening.  Yet so many of them will be approaching the need to re-apply for a subclass 457 visa where they will face that English standard. Again so many of these 457 visa holders are often living in enclaves with their ethnic colleagues, working with colleagues who speak the same foreign language and socialise with people whose first language is not English.  As a result the clients are losing the best advantage of being in Australia – which is the ability to learn English by speaking English to native English speakers. Across and board at interviews with  DIAC officers, in giving evidence before review tribunals and in giving evidence in a court, a person is always at a distinct disadvantage by not be able to communicate in English. Migration agents therefore need to be very firm with clients, setting out a roadmap for conquering English. Visa holders (tradespeople in particular) need to be booked into English classes, encourage the clients to move out the safety of their ethnic enclaves and avoid non-English language media (DVD’s & satellite TV). Clients should sit the IELTS test well before their visa expires.  If there are problems with the result, the client needs to get intensive specialist tutoring, perhaps even take leave from work and do a full time ELICOS course for a month. Students seeking a progression to permanent residence should not be ignored.  The writer has come across too many students who have failed to score 6 in each of the 4 components in the IELTS at the end of their course. This can only be caused by poor strategy in planning the transition to permanent residence. So being soft on the client with English could lead to a very hard result.


Barbara Davidson