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The TOEFL and Australian Immigration

You already know that the TOEFL can get you a student visa in many English speaking countries. And I’ve mentioned that the TOEFL can also help you secure a visa to work in healthcare.

In most countries, the use of the TOEFL is limited just to student and medical employment visas. However, the Australian government recently decided to use TOEFL more broadly. Australian immigration now accepts TOEFL scores for proof of English ability for many different kinds of immigration. The score needed to qualify is different from visa to visa.

Regionally Sponsored Migration Visas

This kind of visa allows immigrants to work in different Australian provinces, territories, and regions. Regionally sponsored visas are designed for foreign workers whose skills are needed in a specific place. Often, immigrants who receive this visa are placed in parts of Australia that are underpopulated or remote.

These regional visas require English ability that is “vocational” (sufficient for work duties) by Australian government standards. The TOEFL iBT requirements for vocational English are not very high compared to the standards for most student visas. People applying for this kind of visa need scores of 4 in Reading and Listening, and scores of 14 in Speaking and Writing.

Business Talent and Investor Visas

This class of business-related visas is for people who want to own a business on Australia, help develop an Australian business, or invest in Australia. Applicants need a history of successful business management. And this visa requires a lot of investment money. Applicants should have between 400,000 and 2 million Australian dollars, depending on the kind of business or investment activity.

Additionally, business visa holders need English that’s “functional” in the eyes of the Australian government. “Functional English” is the English you need for basic communication with other English speakers. The TOEFL iBT requirements for functional English also quite low. Applicants only need a total TOEFL iBT score of 32 to meet this standard.


Skilled Worker Visas

The skilled visa class has two subcategories: independent and sponsored visas. Skilled independent visas allow people to immigrate to Australia to find work, even if they have not yet been offered a job. Skilled sponsored visas are given to people who have an Australian job offer, or have been selected to work in a specific region.

Skilled visas require a “competent” level of English in most cases. Competent English can be proven with TOEFL iBT scores of 13 for reading, 12 for listening, 18 for speaking, and 21 for writing.


Proficient and Superior English

The TOEFL score requirements above may seem easy. But remember, these are Australia’s minimum standards for visa eligibility. You have the best chance of getting a visa in Australia if you can prove that you have proficient or superior English. Australia views your English as proficient if you have TOEFL scores of 24 for Reading and Listening, 23 for Speaking, and 27 for writing. For superior English, you need a 29 in Reading, a 28 in Listening, a 26 in Speaking, and a 30 in Writing.

If you have taken the TOEFL in the last three years, Australia will accept it as part of you immigration application. And even if your score is low by academic standards, it may open up many doors for you in Australia. For those of you who hope to move to the “land down under,” taking the TOEFL (and studying for it first) is well worth your time!


24 Responses to The TOEFL and Australian Immigration

  1. Vijay April 28, 2015 at 3:59 am #

    Hi toefl score reports mailing take very long time. (4-8 weeks) In contrast to ielts 1 week.Is there any other way to submit score report to immigration rather than wait 2 months of official score report.thank you

  2. David Recine
    David Recine April 30, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    Hello Vijay,

    That’s a very good question. Unfortunately, ETS sends scores to third parties only by mail, and mailing times to destinations outside of the US can indeed take several weeks. You may want to ask Australian immigration if they are willing to temporarily accept electronic documentation of your TOEFL score, since you can view your score electronically 10 days after you take the exam. You may also want to check with your testing center to see if they can print out a provisional verification of your score that you could show to immigration.

    Acceptance of early unofficial score documentation isn’t guaranteed, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to ask.

  3. Brijesh January 7, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

    Is the computer based TOEFL score accepted? I took it back in 2005 first when I moved to USA where I am residing since then.

    • David Recine
      David Recine January 11, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

      I haven’t seen anything about the CBT one way or the other on the Australian immigration website. But the real problem here wouldn’t be the format of your test. It would be the age of the test— the fact that your scores are more than 10 years old. Australian immigration generally treats TOEFL scores that are over two years old as expired. You’ll want to retake the exam. But since you’ve been living in America for a decade plus, you’ll probably do quite well on a retake. Go for it!

  4. Alex March 10, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

    I want to apply visa 189. I need ielts score 7 in all band to get 10 point. If i used toefl. Can i get the point too?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 4, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

      That’s an interesting question, Alex. And there’s no easy answer. There’s a lot of disagreement about whether the TOEFL is easier, whether the IELTS is easier, or whether both tests are about the same level of difficulty. Magoosh provides some resources to help you decide between the TOEFL and IELTS, including a score comparison chart between those two tests, and a blog post that carefully compares the two exams. Also be sure to check out the official practice materials for both exams before making a decision.

  5. Jonathan March 28, 2016 at 3:56 pm #

    Hi David

    I just got my TOEFL result and I got 110 points so a superior English result.

    However I did not get the minimum in each section as listed above, scoring higher in some and lower in others, does that mean I don’t qualify at a superior level by Australian standards?!


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert March 30, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

      First off, congratulations on getting such a high score!

      Now to answer your question, from my reading of the official Australian Immigration website, you probably wouldn’t qualify as at the superior level. Or at least, you couldn’t be classified as superior level based on your TOEFL score alone. I know that Australia and other countries tend to look at the “big picture” of an immigration application, so it’s possible that you may be able to gain “superior” status in other ways. Hopefully this can happen, even though it’s not guaranteed based on your TOEFL score. I suggest contacting Australian Immigration or an Australian immigration assistance firm for more information on the exact immigration stauts you might be able to get.

  6. Afrikaans April 22, 2016 at 4:25 pm #

    The country in which i am living is only offering TOEFL PBT. Can someone confirm if TOEFL PBT is also acceptable? Thanks.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 23, 2016 at 10:42 am #

      Hi there 🙂

      Unfortunately, according to the information on this page provided by the Australian government, no, the TOEFL PBT is not acceptable. Here is a list of the acceptable exams:

      * International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
      * Occupational English Test (OET)
      * Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT)
      * Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
      * Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test (also known as Certificate in Advanced English).​

      Since the TOEFL iBT is not available in your country, I recommend exploring the alternative exam options to see which one works best for you.

      I hope this helps 🙂

  7. Dinesh May 28, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

    Hai I am dinesh
    I am d student of India.just completed my studies I.e want to study masters in please help me out to decide particular entrance test.and also the branch which I shld study.and want is the Australian student market need? What is the entrance test I need to attempt

    • David Recine
      David Recine June 6, 2016 at 10:52 am #

      Hi Dinesh,

      For student visas, TOEFL requirements are decided by the individual universities that you apply to, and in some cases, exams other than the TOEFL may be accepted, or you may be able to prove your English abilities in some other way for student visa purposes. To figure out the exact requirements, contact your target schools.

  8. Rita June 30, 2016 at 10:08 pm #

    how many years valid of toefl score card in Ausralia

    • David Recine
      David Recine July 5, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

      TOEFL scores for both skilled migrant visas and student visas are valid for two years. If your TOEFL score is more than two years old, you’ll need to retake the exam before you apply.

  9. Natalie August 1, 2016 at 1:27 am #

    Hello! If I need the TOEFL scores been delivered to Sydney, Australia by the 5th of October is it ok for me to take test on 10th of September in Russia? Or should I rescedule? I’m really worried 🙂 Thank you!

    • David Recine
      David Recine August 1, 2016 at 4:40 pm #

      It doesn’t matter where you take the exam, since all scores are sent from ETS’s American offices. But if your scores are going out in the mail, you could be at risk for missing your October 5 deadline— mailed scores generally don’t make it to international destinations until more than one month after test say. For more details, look under the heading “How long will it take my scores to arrive” in Rachel’s article on how to send TOEFL scores.

      On the other hand, if your recipient in Australia is able to receive TOEFL scores electronically over the Internet, your scores will arrive on time. For details this, see my post on sending TOEFL scores electronically.

  10. Husnu September 26, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    I got toefl score totally 85 but only writing is not matching with required score. My writing score is 20 but it needs 21. Can i apply for skilled migation as a competent english level.

    Reading: 19

    Many thanks.

    • David Recine
      David Recine October 1, 2016 at 8:34 am #

      Hi Hunsu,

      From what I know, the Australian government is pretty strict on the section scores in TOEFL for competent English. So it seems likely that your TOEFL Writing score would disqualify you, even though your Reading, Listening and Speaking scores are well above what they need to be. Having said that, I’m not an immigration expert. I strongly recommend you contact Australian immigration or a licensed immigration assistance agency to see if there’s some kind of immigration level you’d qualify for. Your scores are pretty good overall, so hopefully there’s something you can do without having to retake the exam.

      • gurdeep singh October 25, 2016 at 6:05 am #

        I wanna apply Australia skilled pr. Could u tell me toifl ibt is valid

        • David Recine
          David Recine October 25, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

          Yes, the TOEFL iBT is accepted for skilled migration to Australia. The exact score you need depends on the kind of skilled migrant visa/job you’re seeking.

  11. Kishore October 31, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    Hi, I am Kishore and I have total 8 years of experience in storage administration and I want migrate Australia and I will write TOFEL EX and how many score get in TOEFL . Thanks, Kishore.

    • David Recine
      David Recine October 31, 2016 at 2:07 pm #

      It sounds like you’d like to know what particular TOEFL score you’ll need in order to get a visa for storage administration in Australia. The TOEFL score you need will depend a lot on the exact position you’re applying for. To be sure about the English requirements, figure out exactly which visa you need to apply for. You can check the Australian government’s work visa page for this information. Since you’d presumably be working in management, you may also want to check the skilled occupations subpage on the Australian immigration website.

      My guess is that you’ll either need to demonstrate competent English or superior English. However, some positions may only require functional English or vocational English. You can check the TOEFL requirements for each of these English levels by clicking the links I placed on each level name.

  12. Ajay Reddy November 30, 2016 at 1:58 am #

    I got toefl score totally 108 but only writing is not matching with required score for proficient comparing with IELTS. My writing score is 26 but it needs 27. Can i apply for skilled migation as a Proficient english level. Mean while I have applied for review for writing and coming Friday(2- Dec-2016) will be my third week and waiting for the updated results for review on my writing. Please share your thoughts on this. Is there any one accepted with this score as proficient?

    Reading: 29

    • David Recine
      David Recine December 3, 2016 at 11:00 am #

      The Australian Immigration Office only looks at your individual section scores on the TOEFL. They don’t have requirements for composite “whole test” scores on the TOEFL. So it seems unlikely that you’d be accepted as proficient unless you retake the TOEFL for a better TOEFL Writing score. (Or unless you get a satisfactory score on one of the other alternate tests listed here).

      Sorry for that bad news– it’s a shame, seeing as your overall TOEFL score really is quite impressive. You may want to contact Australian immigration to see if they can be flexible for you. But be prepared to get a higher test score before being awarded “proficient” status. Like I said, the Australian government isn’t known for being flexible on this. I’ve never heard of anyone being accepted unless they meet the minimums for all four sections of the test.

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