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.

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

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!

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

51 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 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 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.

    • Jaspreet January 16, 2020 at 2:52 am #

      Hello sir,
      I have question about TOEFL iBT exam I got 7 each in all accept one reading module next exam I got 7 each in all accept speaking ,
      Now TOEFL iBT has report that on our final certificate they show best score marks and now it’s showing on that 7 each in all .
      Is that 7 each score can give me 10 points towards PR.

      • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
        Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 7, 2020 at 2:57 pm #

        Our expertise is in test prep, not immigration rules/laws. I recommend that you contact an immigration attorney or look up the requirements on the government website

  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.

        • Hanna Morley March 18, 2019 at 12:15 am #

          Hi, can you combine the scores of two toefl tests that you have taken, if some of the previous scores are better on the last, but others are better on the second?

          • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
            Magoosh Test Prep Expert March 22, 2019 at 6:36 am #

            Hi Hanna,

            No, it is not possible to do this in almost any circumstances.

  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.

  13. Meena March 12, 2017 at 8:23 pm #


    The ETS website says that Toefl scores are valid for 3 years for the purpose of Australian immigration by department of immigration and boreder protection. Is that true?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert March 13, 2017 at 3:31 am #

      Hi Meena,

      If it says that on the ETS website, at the time they wrote it, it was true. Visa requirements are not fixed, though, and are always at the discretion of the government official you are soliciting the visa from, so you should defer to whatever your local Australian immigration authority says. I would imagine that 2 years is the maximum just to guarantee you run into no trouble.

      • Meena March 13, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

        Thanks. BTW, Thanks Magoosh team for the TOEFL preparation materials. I scored 112 in 2015.

        • David Recine
          David Recine March 14, 2017 at 2:04 am #

          Wow! I feel like I’m in the presence of greatness. Not a lot of test takers get above 110! Congratulations. And thanks for making Magoosh a part of your very impressive success.

  14. Sam May 7, 2017 at 11:56 pm #

    I need to apply Australian TR now and later on PR .
    I want to do TOEFL IBT .
    can you please tell me is it valid for immigration purpose and how much I’ve to score in TOEFL IBT to meet the criteria of 7 each in IELTS and another thing i wana ask you is that can we use TOEFL IBT for 3 years same like IELTS & other tests?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert May 8, 2017 at 3:37 am #

      Hi Sam,

      We are not admissions, immigration or Australian experts, so please consult other sources of information, too! 🙂 TOEFL scores are valid for two years after the test date, and I do not know whether Australian immigration would accept older scores (so 3 years is potentially the wrong figure you had). As this entire post says, though, the Australian immigration authority has decided to allow the TOEFL in a variety of cases, so you will need to get specific guidance from their website for your cases, but you can likely use the TOEFL. As for the equivalent to a 7 IELTS band, that shifts slightly every year, but you likely want to aim for 95+ on the TOEFL. Keep in mind that there are sometimes individual skill requirements you must also hit, so don’t forget those!

  15. Rohan May 29, 2017 at 11:19 pm #

    HI David and Meena,

    You have achieved the following minimum test scores in each of the four test components: 28 for listening, 29 for reading, 30 for writing and 26 for speaking, in a Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) test that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.

    Here is the answer from the FAQ’s page from the Australian Immigration department:

    Hope that helps..

  16. Shradha68 October 26, 2017 at 10:19 pm #

    Hello Sir,
    I want to do masters in computer science,
    My TOEFL score are as follows
    Total : 81
    Reading: 16
    Writing: 21
    Listening : 21
    Speaking : 26
    could you please tell me if I will be eligible with this score?

    • Shradha68 October 26, 2017 at 10:20 pm #

      *speaking : 23

      • Surelo July 17, 2018 at 1:32 pm #

        Hi I got 81 as well. Can you tell me if i will get admission with this score?

        • David Recine
          David Recine July 18, 2018 at 7:39 am #

          Hi Surelo,

          See Magoosh Test Prep expert’s response to Shrada (below). This should help you figure out if your score is good and can help you meet your goal at your chosen school.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 27, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

      Hi there,

      Our expertise is in test prep, not admissions advice, so I’m afraid I can’t give you a perfect answer for this question! You will have to look up this information directly on school’s websites. This blog post might help you:

      You can also check out the information we have about admissions in our blog:

      I recommend that you do some research yourself and determine which schools you want to apply to! This will allow you to determine if this score will work for your needs 🙂

  17. Sapan jain November 23, 2017 at 12:53 am #

    Hello Sir,
    I’m software engineer and my company is planning to raise the Australian work related 457 Visa.It will be temporary work permit visa and sponsored by company.
    Can you please tell me TOEFL score I need to secured to full fill the pre requisites of Visa.
    Thanks in advance!!

    • David Recine
      David Recine November 23, 2017 at 9:33 am #

      Hi Sapan,

      This is a complicated question at the moment. From what I’ve heard, TOEFL requirements for the 457 have been at least a little bit flexible in the past, since the 457 visa covers many different kinds of work. I can’t see any exact TOEFL requirements on the Australian Immigration website now.

      However, I do see that the 457 will shortly be replaced by the TSS visa. In the Australian government’s announcement about this change, they say that in March 2018, the 457 will be out and the TSS will be in. This change will also come with new English requirements. If you’re getting your visa before March 2018, you will likely need a TOEFL score somewhere between 60 and 75. But to get a more precise score requirement, you should check with your employer or contact Australian Immigration directly.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help, but hopefully this helps a little. :

  18. Daisy John December 12, 2017 at 8:16 am #

    READING 6.5
    WRITING 6.5
    SPEAKING 7.0 is it OK for study

  19. smith kerry January 1, 2018 at 2:48 am #

    You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about an hour. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me.

  20. Allen June 6, 2018 at 1:26 am #

    Test Test Date Reading Listening Speaking Writing Total
    TOEFL iBT Sat May 26 09:57:31 EDT 2018 30 29 30 28 117

    This is my toefl performance. Will I have to worry about retaking toefl as I do not qualify as a candidate with “superior english”.

    • David Recine
      David Recine June 7, 2018 at 10:07 am #

      If the visa you’re applying for requites “superior English” by Australian immigration standards, then you’ll need to retake the test… or possibly apply for a different visa.

      Although I also must say, those are impressive scores! With such a strong base of English skills, it strikes me that you’d have a pretty good shot at getting to “superior English” level on a retake.

  21. Gbenga November 8, 2018 at 2:30 am #

    My question is will my toefl result carry my picture photographs on it at the process of sending to Australia immigration?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 9, 2018 at 2:39 pm #

      Hi Gbenga,

      Yes, the TOEFL score reports include the photo taken at the testing center.

  22. Tom December 23, 2019 at 11:54 pm #

    Who decided that 27/30 was one of the requirements for Proficient level English?

    On what basis is this score required, given that TOEFL themselves state that 24/30 is in the high level.

    Does the government (or its bureaucrats) understand the meaning of the word “proficient”?

    How many of these law makers would score 27/30 in Writing in the TEOFL?
    This requirement is a joke. Australia’s laws are a joke.

    The requirement should be 24/30 minimum, and 100 minimum (total)

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 7, 2020 at 2:51 pm #

      Hi Tom,

      I’m sorry you feel this way, and there’s not much to say. We try our best to report information faithfully and took this from the Australian government’s website. I’m afraid I don’t have any inside information about how or why they chose that cut-off.

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