Australia is well-known across the globe as an educational destination for the diversity in education that it offers. Educational institution and universities in Australia offer an extensive array of courses and degrees for international students so that they can find a program that is a good fit for them. International students can choose between universities, vocational education, and English language training.
What truly appeals to international students is the quality of scientific research in Australia as it is at the forefront of technology and innovation. Therefore, international students who decide to study in Australia can take advantage of the latest research resources and technological advances. Another fact that makes Australia a popular choice for international students is that students are allowed to work for up to 20 hours per week while they are pursuing their studies. This helps them take care of their living expenses as well as gain some work experience.
If you are a student who wants to study in Australia, you need to get an Australian student visa. To obtain a student visa, you must be able to prove to the Department of Home Affairs that you meet the key requirements to be granted with the Australian student visa.
- Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement
- Financial requirements
- English proficiency requirements
- Health and character requirements
You will need to complete an Australian student visa application form, pay the visa application fee and attend an interview as well.
Now that you know the key requirements for an Australian student visa, let us discuss it in detail to gain more clarity.
What is a Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE)?
The Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement was introduced in November 2011. GTE says that the visa applicant should demonstrate his/her intention to stay temporarily in Australia in order to study or to accompany a student as a dependent (i.e. spouse or child) or as a guardian. At the Department of Home Affairs, the decision-makers will consider the following factors:
- Temporarily, what are the circumstances in your home country
- What are the potential circumstances for you in Australia
- What is the value of your chosen course to your future
- Your immigration history
In order for the decision-makers at the Department of Home Affairs to determine whether you meet the key GTE requirements, some applicants might be required to only fill in the visa application form whereas others might be asked to attend an interview at the nearest Australian embassy or consulate in your city/country.
How to complete an Australian student visa application form:
When it comes to the visa application form, all international students apply for the same visa: the Student Visa (Subclass 500), available for application online.
Before you apply for a visa, you will need to obtain a Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) or a Letter of Offer that will confirm that you have been accepted into a course that is registered under the Commonwealth Register of Institutions of Courses (CRICOS). You will need to enter the COE, which will be in the form of an online code into the appropriate section in the online visa application. You might also be required to pay a deposit towards your tuition fees.
For studying in Australia at the same or a higher study level, you can change your course afterwards. In case you are changing your course to a lower level, you will need to apply for a new visa on the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) or a non-AQF level course (unless you are changing from a PhD to a master’s). An added advantage is that you may also package your studies by studying two or more courses on your Student Visa (Subclass 500) with a clear progression from one course to another.
What are the requirements for an Australian student visa?
While you are completing your online visa application form, you will be needed to present evidence of the following according to the Australian student visa requirements:
- Financial requirements: It is important to provide an evidence of sufficient fu nds to cover your tuition fees as well as travel and living costs. February 2018 onwards, it has been decided that the amount you need to prove you have for living costs (apart from your tuition and travel) is set at AU$20,290 (~US$15,600) per year. In case you have any dependents (such as your spouse and children), you will also have to show evidence that states that you are able to cover living costs for them, inclusive of school fees. Other than that, you can also show evidence that your parents or your spouse are willing to support you and that they earn at least AU$60,000 (~US$46,140) per year.
- English proficiency requirement: If you do not come from an English-speaking country (and have not completed at least five years of study in an English-speaking country) you will be required to prove that you can speak English to the level required in Australia. Eligible English-language tests are entlisted on the website of the Department of Home Affairs. Tests such as IELTS, TOEFL iBT, Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic, and Cambridge Advanced English (CAE) fall under the list of English-language proficiency tests. If you have already taken any of these tests, you can produce them as evidence. The score that you need depends on whether you are starting a full degree, doing a foundation course, or enrolling on a preliminary English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS).
- Health requirements: If you intend to train as a doctor, dentist or a nurse, you may be asked to take a medical and/or a radiological check-up to prove that you are in good health. If you are asked to do so, you will have to book an appointment with a doctor approved by the Australian immigration department.
All students travelling to Australia are obliged to purchase Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). In order to purchase this health cover, you can contact your university, or purchase it directly from one of the five approved providers: Australian Health Management, BUPA Australia, Medibank Private, Allianz Global Assistance and nib OSHC. Also, the cost of the health insurance cover often varies depending on the provider and the span of time that you purchase the cover for.
- Character requirements: The Australian student visa requires that you must be of good character in order to enter Australia. This is inclusive of a criminal record check that makes sure you don’t have a substantial criminal record. You may also be needed to acquire a penal clearance certificate (or police certificate) or obtain a police statement, as well as be asked to complete a Character Statutory Declaration Form.
What are the documents required for an Australian student visa?
The website of the Department of Home Affairs has a checklist featuring a list of documents that you are required to submit for specific circumstances.
Generally, students are required to submit the following:
- Your completed Australian student visa application form (157A)
- Paid visa application fees – currently AU$560 (~US$430) in most cases
- A copy of your passport biodata page (you may also be asked to physically provide your passport)
- Your Certificate of Enrolment or Letter of Offer
- An evidence of your sufficient funds
- An evidence of your health insurance cover
- Your English proficiency test results
- Your criminal record check results
- Four copies of your recent passport-sized photographs
- After you have completed assembling and scanning your supporting documents, you will need to create an account and apply with the online ImmiAcccount application system.
- Mostly, visa applications take about four weeks to process. If you are going to study in Australia for a course that is of a duration longer than 10 months and that finishes at the end of an Australian academic year (usually mid-December), in such a case, your visa will generally be valid until 15 March of the following year. If in case your course extends over 10 months and finishes in January or October, your visa will generally be valid for two months after the completion of your course.
- Under some circumstances, it might be possible for you to apply for a further visa at the end of your course for which you will need to consult the Department of Home Affairs website to get additional details.
How to use your student visa?
You are permitted to enter Australia on your student visa up to 90 days (3 months) before the commencement of your course. Within the first seven days of arrival, you need to inform your education provider of the address where you are residing, and also inform them within those seven days if you change your address.
While you are on your student visa, you will be allowed to work up to 40 hours per fortnight during the time your course term is going on, and you can work full-time during the holidays. The student visa is automatically issued with permission for you to work, although you will not be allowed to begin working in the country until your course has commenced. You must also not entirely rely on work in order to support yourself or your family while you are in Australia.
If you are studying a master’s by research or a PhD program, you will not have any work restrictions. However, you must keep in mind that any work that is required as a part of your course is not included in the limit. Any work that is voluntary or unpaid is also not included in the 40-hour work limit if it is genuinely voluntary such as for a non-profit organization and for something that benefits the community.
For as long as you are in possession of a student visa, you have to adhere to certain obligations: you must remain enrolled in a CRICOS-registered course; you have to attend your classes on a regular basis; you have to make a satisfactory progress in your course as well as maintain an OSHC health insurance. Also, there are certain visa conditions that you as well as your dependents are supposed to comply with and breaching any of the visa terms and conditions might result in the cancellation of your visa in Australia.