An Irish vet has been refused a work visa in Australia because she failed the English oral exam that she needed to stay in the country.
Australian immigration works on a points-based system and while Louise Kennedy had been working there for the last two years as a skilled worker at the mobile equine unit between north Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, she hadn’t yet qualified for full time residency.
The 34-year-old Co Wicklow lady has two degrees and is married to an Australian man. The pair are expecting a baby later in the year.
She decided that the time was right to get her full-time residency visa.
As Australia has a shortage of vets she was in with a good chance. She needed to take a computer test – the Pearson Test of English (PTE) – to prove that her understanding of the English language was up to the required standard.
Kennedy passed all the other tests but when it came to the PTE she fell short with a score of 74, when she needed 79 to pass. This is despite the fact that she comes from one English speaking country and has lived in another for the past two years.
The test was evaluated using voice recognition software rather than a human assessor.
She told APP: “There’s obviously a flaw in their computer software, when a person with perfect oral fluency cannot get enough points.
“That is based on the fact that there was construction work outside of the test centre at the time which could be a possible interference.”
Pearson are adamant that there is no problem with their test.
However, Kennedy has been given another opportunity to take the test – which normally costs A$300 (€200) – free of charge.
If she cannot pass the test she must apply for a bridging visa and eventually attain a spouse visa so she can remain in Australia with her husband.
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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling