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18/04/2015

Average Band Scores Accepted for 485 and 457 Visa English Tests

Changes to the English language requirements for Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 visas and Temporary Work (Skilled) Subclass 457 visas came into effect from 18 April 2015.
For the first time, an average band score will be accepted for these visas. For example, an average band score of 6 in IELTS will now be accepted for 485 visas - previously, a minimum of 6 in each band was required.
The requirement to provide a minimum score in each band in a single sitting of an English test was a source of enormous frustration to applicants seeking to apply for these visas.
Many applicants sat for English tests repeatedly trying for the required minimum score in each band - the ability to provide tests meeting an average band score will be a great relief to many.
Specific details of the new English requirements are below:
Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 Visas
The new English requirements for both the Post Study Work Stream and Graduate Work Stream are as follows:
  • Hold a passport from the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada or New Zealand; or
  • IELTS(Academic or General Training): overall average of 6 and at least 5 in each band; or
  • Occupational English Test(OET): B Pass in each band; or
  • Pearson(PTE Academic): overall average of 50 with at least 36 in each band; or
  • TOEFL iBT(Internet Based Test): total score of 64, with at least 4 in Listening and Reading, and at least 14 in Writing and Speaking; or
  • Cambridge (CAE): 169 overall average with at least 154 in each band.

This represents a significant lowering of the English language requirement and will be a great relief to applicants who have struggled to meet the minimum score required in each band.
A couple of important points to note:
  • Some skills assessment authorities (eg the Accounting Professional Bodies) require English testing for the Graduate Work skills assessment - there is no indication as yet as to whether the assessment authorities will change their English language requirements.
  • If completing the OET, the required scores have not changed.
  • The English requirements for the Recognised Graduate Subclass 476 visa are similar.
Changes to 457 Requirements
The English language requirements for the Temporary Work (Skilled) Subclass 457 have also been changed significantly:
  • Previously, only the IELTS and OET were accepted - Immigration will now accept the TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE and Cambridge CAE
  • An exemption to English language testing applies if you have completed at least 5 years of study at the secondary or tertiary level. Previously, the study had to be continuous with no breaks
  • An average band score of 5 is now required in IELTS - a minimum score of at least 5 previously applied

The required English test scores for 457 visas are now as follows:
  • IELTS: overall average score of 5, with a minimum score of at least 4.5 in each band; or
  • OET: "B pass" is required for all 4 components of the OET; or
  • TOEFL iBT: total band score of 36, with at least 3 in Listening and Reading and at least 12 in Speaking and Writing; or
  • PTE Pearson Test of English (Academic): Average band score of 36, with minimum of 30 in each band; or
  • CAE Cambridge English: Advanced: Average band score of 154, with minimum of 147 in each band.

There are also some other important changes to the 457 program which have now come into effect, including:
  • Decreasing the minimum salary for exemption from the Market Rate Salary requirement from $250,000 to $180,000
  • Increasing the time limit for sponsors notifying Immigration of changes from 10 working days to 28 days