Earlier this week the Australian Federal Budget was released, revealing a lot of big news.
It’s a definite must watch as many people will be impacted some way or another. If you want to hear the highlights specifically for immigration, check out our last video. Many of the changes are obviously in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and most of the news was positive.

Except for this one.

Partner visa applicants will face a new English requirement.

Partner visas are one of the few visas that do not have an English requirement as the applicant is not entering Australia based on skills but as a loved one of an Australian.

Today, the Minister of Immigration shared more details on this important new change.
The changes are likely to start mid to late 2021 and will impact new partner visa applicants, who will need to demonstrate a “functional” level of English or a willingness to learn the English language.  An unusual addition is that Australian sponsors who are permanent residents will also need to prove “functional” English. Sponsors who are Australian citizens will not face an English requirement.

“Functional” English is of course defined specifically under immigration law. To prove “functional” English, you may provide evidence of study in English or meeting a certain score on an English test.

Read: Functional English

This new English requirement will not apply when you first make your application for partner visa subclasses 309 or 820, as they are provisional visas. It will apply when you are assessed for permanent residency under subclasses 100 and 801. This second stage usually happens 2 years after lodging your Partner visa application.

If you want to know more about Partner visas, check out our video also linked below. If the sponsor and visa applicant is unable to demonstrate “functional” English, they can also meet the requirement by showing they have made a reasonable effort to learn English. To the Immigration Department, this is the completion of 500 hours of English language classes. These classes are provided for free under the Adult Migration English Program program available to provisional partner visa holders.

The policy on ‘demonstrating reasonable efforts’ leaves room for some discretion by case offices in making their assessment on what is reasonable. There is a real concern for older partner visa applicants being able to pick up the English language.

This is a contentious issue that will receive both applause and much disappointment.
We have reservations as once this is introduced, it paves a way for the government to increase the competency English required for partner visa applicants at a later time.
Let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

If you need advice, we offer Skype, Zoom and phone consultations. Call +(02) 8054 2537, 0434 890 199 or book online today to speak to our migration specialists.


Amy Kim