Irish vet denied Australian visa after failing English test

  • 09/08/2017
Irish vet Louise Kennedy was denied a skilled immigrant visa into Australia.
Irish vet Louise Kennedy was denied a skilled immigrant visa into Australia. Photo credit: AAP

An Irish veterinary physician has been refused a skilled migrant visa to Australia after failing the English oral test, despite English being her first language and holding multiple degrees.

Dr Louise Kennedy, a pregnant mother married to an Australian, has been working on the Sunshine Coast as an equine veterinarian for two years.

There is currently a shortage of equine vets, particularly in Queensland, so much so that it is on the country's skilled occupation list.

Despite this, Dr Kennedy says she did not gain enough points in the English oral test to obtain her visa.

"It was such a shock... it's the only exam I've ever gone into not being nervous about," she told SBS World News.

"It's taken about two-and-a-half years to get to this point because as a vet you've also got to prove your skills as a vet, so I've done all of that  that takes about two years  and then to not get it from English is just so frustrating."

Dr Kennedy took the computer-based Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic), which was approved by the Australian Government's Department of Immigration and Border Protection in 2014, and uses voice recognition technology.

The company told her she could re-sit the test when an available appointment opens up in five weeks, but by then her current visa may expire, so instead she's applying for a spousal visa.

"We're due a baby in 12 weeks so at least I'll be able to stay here with my husband and baby."

The head of Pearson in the Asia Pacific, Sasha Hampson, said the company will not comment on individual cases, but insists the technology they use is of a high quality.

"Comparing data published by some of the other major English tests recognised by government bodies and higher education institutions, PTE Academic has the highest reliability estimates for both the overall score and the communicative skills scores based on the SEM of all the major academic English tests."

A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection told SBS World News it "is not involved in the administration or operation of the English language tests".