Student Visa Changes: 1st July 2016
On 1 July 2016, Australia will make a number of changes to its student visa processes. These changes include the introduction of a simplified student visa framework (SSVF).
Under the SSVF:
- all international students will now apply for a single Student visa (subclass 500), regardless of their chosen course of study
- all international students will be required to apply for their student visa online
- a new immigration risk framework will be used to guide the evidence of English language and financial capacity that a student needs to provide with their visa application.
Key requirements for the Student visa (subclass 500):
Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement
The GTE requirement applies to all student visa applicants and considers whether the individual circumstances of the student indicate that their intention is for a temporary stay in Australia. A genuineness assessment is made by taking into account a number of personal factors relating to the student, such as their immigration history, circumstances that might encourage the student to return to their home country and conditions that might encourage them to remain in Australia.
Enrolment in a registered course of study
International students must generally be enrolled in a registered course of study and provide a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) when they lodge their student visa application.
Exceptions to this requirement apply to Foreign Affairs and Defence sponsored students (Letter of Support from Foreign Affairs and Defence); secondary exchange students (an Acceptance Advice of Secondary Exchange Students form); and postgraduate research students required to remain in Australia for marking of their thesis.
Financial capacity and English language proficiency
All international students are required to have sufficient funds to cover their course fees and living costs in Australia. While student visa holders are able to work a specified number of hours in Australia, they should not rely on working to cover their course fees and living costs.
As part of the visa application process, the department might require students to provide evidence of their financial capacity and English language proficiency. This will be guided by the immigration risk outcomes associated with the student’s country of citizenship and intended education provider.
Where the online client service tool indicates that documentary evidence of financial and English language capacity is required, it is important for applicants to attach these documents to their visa application prior to lodgement. Failure to do so might result in visa refusal.
Health and character
International students are required to be of good character and will generally need to undertake a health examination as part of their student visa application. Students must also obtain Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) before a student visa can be granted.
How to lodge a student visa application:
All applications for a Student visa (subclass 500) should generally be lodged online. See ImmiAccount for more information.
How long it takes to process a student visa application:
The Department aims to finalise 75 per cent of complete student visa applications within one month of lodgement.
To reduce visa processing times, students are strongly encouraged to submit all required documents with their visa applications. Failure to submit all required documents might lead to processing delays or visa refusal.
Impact of the SSVF on existing student visa holders:
The SSVF only applies to student visa applications lodged from 1 July 2016 and will not affect the visas of existing student visa holders.
Family members of existing student visa holders (subclasses 570-576) will need to apply for a subclass 500 visa if they do not currently hold a student visa and want to join their family member in Australia.
Impact on Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485):
The eligibility criteria for the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) will not change.
Eligible students for streamlined evidentiary requirements under SSVF:
The following table provides an overview of the students that notionally have streamlined evidentiary requirements under the SSVF.
Eligibility for streamlined evidentiary requirements is determined based on the combined immigration risk rating of the student’s country of citizenship and intended education provider. Where the student intends to package courses to combine their preliminary course of study with their principal course of study, the education provider immigration risk rating applied to the student visa application would correspond to the student’s principal course of study.
In the table S refers to streamlined evidentiary requirements while R refers to regular evidentiary requirements. Where regular evidentiary requirements apply, the student will generally be required to provide evidence of their financial and English language capacity with their visa application.
Where the department’s online client service tool indicates that documentary evidence of financial and English language capacity is required, it is important for applicants to attach these documents to their visa application prior to lodgement. Failure to do so might result in visa refusal.
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