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New language requirement “cruel” to people who do not come from an English-speaking background

Australian Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said that if they do not pass the latest English language competency examination, foreigners commuting to Australia for love would not be barred from obtaining permanent residency. But, through free English courses, they have two years to make “all reasonable efforts” to learn the language.

This comes after the new test faced criticism from Labor Party members who called people who do not come from an English-speaking context the not-exactly-new requirement “cruel”. In the professional migrant stream, English-speaking capacity is already required.

At a virtual multicultural media conference on Oct. 9, Tudge explained the facts, saying that migrants don’t need to speak English in order to come to Australia.

Migrants usually come to Australia on short-term visas, such as a spouse visa, and are able to apply for a permanent resident visa after two years.

“In that time, we expect them to have taken advantage of the free English language classes and made all reasonable efforts to learn English,” Tudge said.

Tudge said that the degree to which migrants come to speak English is “not the issue.” He reiterated, however, that the ability to speak English at a “functional level” would enable migrants to Australia to engage in society more effectively.

“We want people to have a real go trying to learn English before they put their application in and demonstrated they’ve had a proper go, then that visa will be granted, as long as the other checks are assured as well.”

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