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March 21, 2024

Student (SC 500) and Temporary Graduate (SC 485) English Language Increase

In March 2024, the Department of Education announced significant alterations to the English language prerequisites for Student (SC 500) and Temporary Graduate (SC 485) visas. These changes, detailed in a recent document sent to Education Providers, have far-reaching implications for international students and graduates seeking to study and work in Australia. Let’s delve into the specifics of these modifications and understand their impact.


The document circulated by the Department outlines adjustments to the English language criteria applicable to Student and Temporary Graduate visas, effective from 23 March 2024. These changes are crucial for applicants and educational institutions alike, as they signify a shift in the proficiency standards required for visa approval.

Student Visas

Under the updated guidelines:

  • The minimum English proficiency requirement has increased from IELTS 5.5 to 6.0 (or equivalent).
  • The minimum score for undertaking an English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS) has been raised from IELTS 4.5 to 5.0 (or equivalent).
  • Students enrolled in recognized university foundation or pathway programs with reputable English language training must achieve a score of IELTS 5.5 (or equivalent). These accredited courses will be listed on the Department’s website.
  • However, for students solely studying English through ELICOS programs, there will be no change in requirements.

Temporary Graduate Visas

The alterations to Temporary Graduate visas include:

  • A rise in the minimum required score from IELTS 6.0 to 6.5 (or equivalent), with a minimum score of 5.5 for each component (reading, writing, speaking, and listening).
  • Passport holders from Hong Kong and British National Overseas (BNO) are exempt from the increased English language requirement, maintaining a standard of IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent) with a minimum score of 5.0 for each component.
  • The test validity window for Temporary Graduate visa applications has reduced from three years to one year. Applicants must submit evidence of completing an English language test within one year of the visa application date.


It’s important to note that passport holders from Hong Kong and British National Overseas (BNO) are exempt from the heightened English language criteria for Temporary Graduate visas, maintaining the previous standards.

Implementation and Monitoring

While the document specifies a commencement date of 23 March 2024 for these changes, legislative instruments have yet to be released on the Federal Register of Legislation to enact these adjustments officially. Monitoring the Federal Register for these instruments is advised, with updates expected once the instruments are released.


In conclusion, the recent amendments to English language requirements for Student and Temporary Graduate visas signify a higher standard for language proficiency among international students and graduates. These changes reflect Australia’s commitment to maintaining quality education standards and ensuring that visa holders have the necessary language skills for success in their academic and professional endeavors.


Are these changes retroactive for existing visa holders?

  • No, these changes only apply to visa applications lodged on or after 23 March 2024.

Will there be any adjustments to visa application fees due to these changes?

  • There’s no information regarding changes to visa fees at this time.

How can applicants prove their English proficiency under the new requirements?

  • Applicants must provide valid English language test scores meeting the revised standards.

Do these changes affect other visa subclasses apart from SC 500 and SC 485?

  • These changes specifically target Student (SC 500) and Temporary Graduate (SC 485) visas.

What resources are available to help applicants prepare for the updated English language requirements?

  • The Department’s website and authorized educational institutions can provide guidance and support for meeting the new criteria.
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