In a move to take effect from mid-2021, the Australian government will demand that non-Australian partners of individuals already legally resident in the country pass an English test ahead of being issued with permanent visas.
The move is already being labelled controversial and discriminatory in some quarters.
Speaking of the move, Australian Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said “We will require an applicant and a sponsor to have met functional level English or to have at least made reasonable efforts to learn English.”
It was not immediately known if the new regulation will apply to only spoken English or will also include the written form of the language as well.
And despite claims of being unfair or an example of discrimination by critics, the Australian government said the move will help with “social cohesion”.
English language ability is already a pre-requisite for those looking to qualify for Australian citizenship in addition to being needed for some work related visas, as it is in many other nations across the region, Taiwan included.
“(R)easonable efforts to learn” English will also be an accepted form of entry according to Mr. Tudge with applicants seemingly accepted provided they have taken the time to utilise the 500 hours of free, government supplied English classes
At present it is believed that over 20% of Australian residents do not use the English language at home with this figure rising to over 30% in the nation’s largest cities, Melbourne and Sydney.