Important changes to the English language requirements for nurses applying for an Australia visa

Last week saw a very important announcement made by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council (ANMC). ANMC is the body that assesses whether the skills of internationally-qualified nurses are sufficient to be eligible for an Australia visa, and the news regarded changes to the English language requirements placed on all ANMC assessment applicants.

There are English language requirements as part of the Australian visa basic requirements set by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), but we were alerted to the following recent addition to the 'Frequently Asked Questions' section of ANMC's website:


As of 1 July 2009, all internationally-qualified nurses and midwives applying for assessment to the ANMC under the general skilled migration scheme will be required to complete an English proficiency test. New Zealand registered nurses and midwives are exempt from providing English proficiency under the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997.

A pass level of 7 in all four bands of the IELTS Academic test or a B level in all four bands of the OET will be required in one sitting. The test will be valid for a period of two years."

What does this mean for a nurse applying for an Australia visa?

Essentially, this announcement means that all nurses applying through the ANMC will be required to complete an academic English language test before lodging their skills assessment UNLESS they lodge before 1 July 2009.

From 1 July 2009, all ANMC applicants will be required to demonstrate proficient English language abilities by completing an academic English language test. Regardless of how confident an applicant is in their English skills, the IELTS test can be a very demanding process. Failure to reach the required standard could significantly affect an applicant's visa timescale, and even their eligibility to migrate to Australia.

We've taken the step of encouraging all our clients to submit their application as quickly as possible, as if they are able to submit your application to ANMC before 1 July 2009, then this announcement will NOT affect them.

Provided an applicant supplies their compiled assessment documents to ANMC in time and it satisfies their requirements, then there is no reason why they would not be able to lodge their application for assessment before the cut-off date of 1 July 2009.

What happens to ANMC applicants who do not make the 1 July 2009 deadline?

Should an ANMC applicant lodge their application for assessment AFTER 1 July 2009, they will be required to demonstrate proficient English language abilities. This can be demonstrated by either achieving a score of 7.0 out of 9.0 in all four competencies (reading, writing, speaking and listening) of the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Academic test or achieving a B level in all four bands (reading, writing, speaking and listening) of the OET (Occupational English Test).

Generally, we would recommend that clients complete an academic IELTS test because it is more widely recognised as an English proficiency test. Additionally, there are many IELTS testing centres across the country, and it is the English proficiency test that we are most familiar with. More information on IELTS is available at their website (

However, as I said earlier, we hope to avoid the necessity of an academic IELTS test for our clients by having their applications for ANMC assessment ready before the cut-off date. 

If you are a qualified nurse and wish to take advantage of the current ANMC requirements (i.e. avoid having to do an English language test), we advise that you begin the migration process ASAP.  The best first step is to complete the Australian visa assessment that will give you an honest and accurate assessment of your eligibility according to the skilled migration program

- Tony Coates is a Migration Caseworker for the Australian Visa Bureau