Important changes to the Australian student visa programme – from 1 July 2016

Important changes to the Australian student visa programme – from 1 July 2016

May 20, 2016 From 1 July 2016, there will be only one student visa available to study in Australia – the Student visa (subclass 500).
After 1 July 2016, if you want to study in Australia, you will need to apply for the Student visa (subclass 500) regardless of your field of study.

General information for students – from 1 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.

Why the Australian Government is making these changes

The SSVF will support the sustainable growth of Australia’s international education sector by making the process of applying for a student visa simpler to navigate for genuine students, delivering a more targeted approach to immigration integrity and reducing red tape for business.

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

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, students require to provide evidence of their financial capacity. This will be guided by the immigration risk outcomes associated with the student’s country of citizenship.

English language proficiency

Under the SSVF, students associated with the lowest immigration risk will generally have streamlined evidentiary requirements. This means these students will generally not be required to provide evidence of English language capacity with their visa application, other than a Confirmation of Enrolment which shows that they have met their education provider’s English language requirements. However, the department retains the discretion to seek this evidence where appropriate.

Students associated with higher immigration risk, based on their country and education provider immigration risk outcomes, will generally have to provide documentary evidence of English language proficiency with their visa application.

Where documentary evidence is required, the student will need to provide one of the following with their visa application:
• evidence of an acceptable English language test score
• evidence that the student falls within an exempt category.

English language exemptions

Under the SSVF, the following student categories will continue to be exempt from providing an English language test score with their visa application regardless of the immigration risk rating that applies:

• students enrolled in fulltime school studies as a principal course, including secondary exchange programmes; postgraduate research courses; standalone English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS); and Foreign Affairs or Defence sponsored students
• students who have completed at least five years’ study in one or more of the following countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, or the Republic of Ireland
• citizens and passport holders of one of the following English speaking countries: UK, USA, Canada, NZ or Republic of Ireland
• students who have successfully completed in Australia in the English language either the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education or studies at the Certificate IV or higher level, in the two years before applying for the student visa.

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 long it takes to process a student visa application

It has been aimed 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.

Current visa holders

If you hold a student visa with subclass numbers 570 to 576, your visa will remain valid and your visa conditions will not change after 1 July 2016.

After 1 July 2016, family members of Student visa holders (subclasses 570-576) will need to apply for a subclass 500 visa if they want to join a family member in Australia.

Interested in studying in Australia?

• Send Resume to
for Eligibility Assessment
• Register your interest to meet representatives from Australian University and Colleges (eligible students only)
• Get into our office with an updated Resume

If you are interested in studying in Australia, eduaid is here to help for information and advice.

[eduaid Newsdesk]