Getting visas in Australia just got tougher. Foreign partners of residents who want permanent residence must soon pass an English language test. Australia's government says people need to show a certain level of English proficiency before they are given permanent visa. This requirement could start from the middle of 2021. Australia's immigration minister said: "We will require an applicant...to have met a functional level of English or to have at least made reasonable efforts to learn English." People can get 500 hours of free English classes on a government language programme.
The English test is controversial. Politicians critical of the new requirement called it "discriminatory" and "racist". They said it targets people from non-Western nations. A spokesman for Australia's opposition party said: "English proficiency isn't a test of someone's love." He said couples already faced an uphill struggle in the application process. An immigration expert said: "It certainly puts a lot of pressure on couples who've been hit hard by COVID. Many of them have lost their jobs and now they've got this added burden to pass an English test."