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Migrants to Australia required to learn English to be granted a permanent visa

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Foreign partners coming to Australia will soon have to demonstrate they can speak English in order to be granted a permanent visa.

Partner visa applicants and their spouses, provided they are a permanent resident, will need to demonstrate they’ve made reasonable efforts to learn English.

The change to the visa requirement comes after a rise in the number of people not being able to speak English well or at all in the past decade, Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said in a statement.

“From late 2021, new partner visa applicants and permanent resident sponsors will be required to have functional level English or to demonstrate that they have made reasonable efforts to learn English,” Mr Tudge said.

Alan Tudge says the new requirement is in part so migrants can enjoy a better life in Australia. Photo: ABC News/Tamara Penniket.

“People will be able to demonstrate this through, for example, the completion of 500 hours of free English language classes through the Adult Migration English Program.”

Mr Tudge pointed to a previously announced overhaul of the Adult Migrant English Program, giving migrants access to unlimited English classes free of charge.

Partner visas are processed in two stages and the minister’s office said the new language requirement would not need to be met until someone was applying for permanency, usually after two years of being able to live in Australia on a temporary partner visa.

The Government is also temporarily boosting the number of partner visas available this financial year under the existing migration cap of 160,000 places.

Mr Tudge said there was almost one million people living in Australia with poor or no English and that language skills were necessary to finding work and staying safe.

“And we want to encourage everybody to be able to learn English so that they can fully engage in Australian life, in every aspect of it, from employment markets, to our democracy, to our society, to community activity,” Mr Tudge said.

“English is absolutely essential in order to do all of that.”

READ MORE: Scott Morrison: ‘This is a budget for multicultural Australia.’

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