Virginia, US

From 1 July 2013, the Australian Government has required a minimum level of English for all 457 visa applicants who are earning a base salary below AUD96,400 and are not citizens of the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand or Ireland. 

While IELTS is generally the most popular English language test, the wait times to book and undertake this test can often impact the processing times of visa applications and may delay start dates for employees. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) now provide flexibility and accept a range of English language tests from other well-known providers including Pearson, TOEFL and Cambridge.  

This flexibility is advantageous to both employers and applicants as it enables a choice of providers and would potentially be less likely to cause delays. Other advantages include more convenient test locations and times as well as accessibility particularly in remote areas.  


Am I exempt from taking the test?

For the 457 visa program, there are only a handful of exceptions to avoid the English language requirement:

(a) Having a base rate of pay of AUD 96,400 

(b) Being a national from the UK, USA, NZ, Canada or Ireland 

(c) Completing at least five years of full-time study in a secondary and/or tertiary level of education where the medium of instruction is English

(d) Having already completed an English Language test within 3 years of lodgement date 


Other English language providers accepted by the department


  • IELTS – The IELTS test is arguably the most popular and well-known across the globe. As with all the other tests, IELTS consists of four components—listening, reading, writing and comprehension. Applicants would need an overall score of 5.0 with at least a 4.5 in each of the section. For further information, see:


  • TOEFL iBT – The TOEFL test is an internet based test that allows applicants to attend a testing centre nearby and complete the test online. Compared to others, TOEFL appears to offer the maximum testing locations worldwide. The test is generally more accessible than the IELTS test and seems to be particularly useful for people working in remote and regional areas. Applicants would need a score of at least 3points in listening and reading and 12 points in speaking and writing. For further information, see: 


  • Pearson Test of English Academic  – The Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) is a computer-based test that is also recognised by tertiary providers worldwide and by DIBP for all visas. Applicants are required to obtain 36 points in each of the 4 test components. It is particularly aimed at showing academic levels of English often used to ascertain visa applicant’s language capabilities on a more advanced level. PTE Academic has a number of advantages over other tests in the market including consistent marking through the Pearson automated scoring system that can reduce the frustration of inconsistent results. PTE Academic boasts flexible test dates worldwide. Test takers can schedule a test up to 24 hours in advance and results are typically provided within 5 business days. For further information, see: 


  • CAMBRIDGE advanced (CAE) – Applicants need to achieve 154 points in each of the four test components. Similar to PTE Academic , CAE is aimed at showing academic levels of English particularly if you are planning to apply for a visa in the future that requires a highly developed level of English for certain professional occupations and academics. For further information, see: 


  • OCCUPATIONAL English Test (OET) – This test is specific to healthcare professionals who seek to register and practise in an English speaking environment. The OET is recognised by healthcare institutions worldwide and places emphasis on communication skills in a health care environment. For further information, see:

If you require assistance on whether you are required to complete an English language test for your 457 application, please speak with your Fragomen representative or alternatively, contact our Melbourne office.