A significant change in the subclass 457 visa regime has been amendments to the English language requirements as a consequence of recommendations made as part of the 457 Integrity Review.

Legislative Instrument F2015L00563 IMMI 15/028 sets out the current English language requirements and exemptions for a 457 visa.  It is pointed out that the English language requirements for a 457 visa are distinct from the usual regulatory definition of an English language level such as ‘vocational English’ or ‘competent English’.

For the purposes of subparagraph 457.223(4)(eb)(v), the following scores:

English testMinimum band scoreMinimum scores for English test components


IELTS testOverall band score


TOEFL iBTTotal band score 36331212

PTEOverall band score 3630303030

CAEOverall band score 154147147147147


The legislative instrument specifies that the English language test is valid for up to 3 years from the date of visa application for the purposes of paragraph 457.223(4)(eb).

Where English language must be satisfied as a nomination requirement pursuant to subparagraph 2.72(10)(g)(iv) then the English language test is valid for up to 3 years from the date of nomination.

For the purposes of subclause 457.223(11), an applicant is exempt from undertaking an English language test to demonstrate their English language proficiency if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • The applicant’s base rate of pay is AUD96,400 or above;
  • The applicant is a citizen and holds a valid passport issued by the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland;
  • The applicant is nominated in an occupation that does not require a level of English language competency for grant of registration, licence or membership AND has completed at least 5 years of full-time study in secondary and/or higher education institution where the instruction was delivered in English;
  • An applicant nominated in relation to an activity or occupation by a standard business sponsor AND nominated in relation to an activity or occupation that will be performed at a diplomatic on consular mission of another country or an Office of the Authorities of Taiwan located in Australia

There are also a raft of transitional provisions applying to applications lodged before 1 July 2013.

Note in passing that the 457 visa it was recognised in the Regulations as a work visa. It has been renamed the subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled)) visa.  However, the former title to the visa, the subclass 457 (Business (Long Stay)) visa still turns up in the cases.

One of the exemptions to the English language requirement is that the applicant had done 5 years of secondary school in English. In Chand 1419459(Migration) [2015] AATA 3289 (13 August 2015), the student failed grade 11 and repeated that year. Nevertheless the Tribunal accepted that each year including the failed year counted as a year of study in English. Counting the failed year 5 years of full time secondary study was done.

Barbara Davidson