Applying for an Australian Student Visa

You should read this information form if you are:

– outside Australia and intend to apply for a visa to study in Australia; or

– a student visa holder in Australia intending to enrol in a course of study; or

– a student visa holder intending to apply for permission to work; or

– a student visa holder intending to change from one education sector to another; or

– a visitor, working holiday-maker or other temporary visa holder intending to extend your stay in Australia to undertake full-time study in a registered course.

Student visas – general information

The Student (Temporary) (Class TU) visa comprises 8 subclasses.

Subclasses 570-576 are based on the education sector of your main course.

The subclasses and the prescribed courses for each subclass are:

– Independent ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) (Subclass 570)

ELICOS (non-award and Certificate I-IV) as a stand-alone course.

Students undertaking ELICOS as a pre-requisite to another course must apply for a visa under the subclass appropriate to the main course.

– Schools (Subclass 571)

Primary school; secondary school including junior and senior secondary; approved secondary exchange programs.

– Vocational education and training (Subclass 572)

Certificate I, II, III, and IV; diploma; advanced diploma.

– Higher education (Subclass 573)

Bachelor degree; associate degree; graduate certificate; graduate diploma; masters by coursework.

– Postgraduate research (Subclass 574)

Masters by research degree; Doctoral degree.

– Non-award (Subclass 575)

Enabling course; non-award foundation studies; other full-time courses or components of courses not leading to an Australian award.

– AusAID or Defence (Subclass 576)

Full-time courses of all types undertaken by AusAID or Defence students sponsored by the Australian Government.

A further subclass of student visa, the Student Guardian (Subclass 580) visa, provides for certain persons to reside with a student in Australia, where that student requires a guardian. Applications for student guardian visas should be made on form 157G Application for a student guardian visa.

Acceptable courses

To be eligible for the grant of a student (Subclass 570-576) visa, you must be accepted for full-time study in a registered course or part of a registered course.

Acceptance for full-time study is evidenced by an electronic confirmation of enrolment certificate or an offer of a place in a course’ letter issued by the registered provider offering you a place (see: Offer of a place in a course and confirmation of enrolment on page 2). If you are sponsored by AusAID or Defence, a letter from these agencies indicating their support of your study in Australia is required. If you are a secondary school exchange student, you must provide a completed Acceptance Advice of Secondary Exchange Student (AASES) form.

A registered course is an education or training course offered by an Australian education provider registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) to offer courses to overseas students. Details of registered courses and education providers are available on the internet.

If you are sponsored by AusAID or Defence, or are a secondary school exchange student, you are not required to enrol in a registered course in order to be granted a student visa. However, you must be enrolled in a full-time course of study or training.

Requirements for the grant of a Student (Subclass 570-576) visa

To be granted a student (Subclass 570-576) visa, you must meet key requirements. These include your financial capacity, English language proficiency, likely compliance with the conditions of your visa and any other matters considered relevant to assessing your application.

There are 5 Assessment Levels for these evidentiary requirements. Assessment Levels are prescribed according to the passport you hold and the education sector of your course. Assessment Level 5 has the most stringent requirements.

To be granted a student visa, you must also satisfy the general requirements that are applicable to all student visa applicants. General requirements include you being of good character and sound health, and having acceptable health insurance and no outstanding debts to the Commonwealth of Australia.

Evidentiary requirements

Key requirements include:

– your capacity to cover the cost of air fares, course tuition fees and living costs for the duration of your stay in Australia. Your living costs in Australia are set at AUD18,000 pa. The period for which you must provide evidence of funds, the type of funds considered acceptable, and the savings period for funds may vary with your assessment level and education sector of study. Living costs are a minimum amount set for visa purposes. Living costs vary depending on where you will be living and studying. It is your responsibility to determine what your own costs will be to live and study in Australia. Even if you have permission to work you should not rely on work to support yourself in Australia as a student ;

– your capacity to cover the cost of air fares, living costs and school tuition costs for your family unit members for the duration of your stay in Australia. Living costs for family members are set at AUD6,300 for your partner, AUD3,600 for your first child and AUD2,700 for each child thereafter. School costs are set at AUD8,000 pa. Except in very limited circumstances, you are required to provide this evidence regardless of whether your family members intend to accompany you to Australia;

– demonstrating and/or providing evidence in your application that the funds you are relying on will genuinely be available to you during your stay in Australia.

– your level of English language proficiency in relation to that required for your assessment level and education sector of study. Where an English language test result is required, it must be an accepted test’ and you must sit this test prior to making your visa application;

– the situation in your home country eg. personal or financial commitments that may prompt you to return to your home country;

– your academic record and qualifications completed;

– your immigration history eg. previous compliance with immigration laws and whether you have previously applied for entry to Australia.

General requirements you must meet include that:

– you are of good character;

– you are of sound health;

– you have acceptable health insurance through the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for yourself and members of your family unit accompanying you to Australia (see Overseas Student Health Cover on page 5);
– you have no outstanding debts to the Commonwealth of Australia, or have made arrangements acceptable to the Minister to repay such debts;

– where you are under 18 years of age, acceptable arrangements for your accommodation, support and general welfare are in place; and

– if you are in Assessment Level 2, 3, 4 or 5, do not hold a student visa and are applying in Australia, you must provide exceptional reasons to justify the grant of your visa.

Offer of a place in a course and confirmation of enrolment

If you are applying outside Australia and your visa application will be assessed at Assessment Level 3, 4 or 5, you should provide:

– an offer of a place in a course’ letter from your Australian education provider at the time you lodge your application; and

– an electronic confirmation of enrolment certificate issued by your education provider after you lodge your application if you are requested by the Australian overseas mission to do so.

This process allows a preliminary or pre-visa assessment to be made on your application to see if you are genuinely seeking to enter Australia for the purpose of study.

If you are applying outside Australia in Assessment Level 1 or 2, or in Australia in any Assessment Level, an electronic confirmation of enrolment certificate is required before you lodge your application and a copy is to be provided with your application.

Student visa conditions

If you are issued a student visa, some conditions will be attached to the grant of the visa. The most common conditions are:

– You must satisfy attendance and/or course progress requirements and maintain a valid enrolment for your chosen course of study.

– You and members of your family unit must not work unless you have been granted permission to work as part of your initial visa grant and you have commenced your course of study in Australia. If you are an Assessment Level 3, 4 or 5 student who is undertaking a non-award course, your family members cannot be granted permission to work, unless your study is being paid for by the Commonwealth of Australia or an Australian state or territory government, the government of your home country, or an inter-governmental agency.

– You must maintain your approved Overseas Student Health Cover while in Australia.

– If you are an Assessment Level 3, 4 or 5 student whose overall intended period of study is 10 months or less, you will usually be subject to a no further stay’ condition. This means that after entering Australia, you may not be granted any other visa while you remain in Australia, other than a further student visa with permission to work, or a Graduate – Skilled visa1. You may be exempt from the mandatory imposition of the no further stay’ condition if you are an Assessment Level 3 student and can show funds to cover specified tuition, living and school costs for a 12 month period in addition to the period of your intended study in Australia (for further information, see the department’s website).

– A no further stay’ condition may also be imposed on your visa, regardless of your assessment level or period of study, if the decision maker considers this appropriate.

– If you are sponsored by the Commonwealth of Australia or the government of your home country, you may be subject to a no further stay’ condition. This means that after entering Australia, you will not be entitled to be granted any other visa while you remain in Australia apart from a further Student visa with Permission to Work, or a further student visa with the consent of your sponsor1.

– You must inform your education provider within 7 days of your arrival in Australia of your current residential address and must advise any changes of address within 7 days. Your provider is required by law to keep your residential address so you can be contacted if you do not satisfy course requirements. If you do not abide by this condition, you may not be aware of any such contact by your provider. This situation may lead to the cancellation of your student visa.

– If you are a student visa holder under 18 years of age, who is neither being accompanied nor staying with a relative who is at least 21 years of age, you must not change your accommodation, support and the general welfare arrangements without the written approval of your education provider. If you wish to change your accommodation and welfare arrangements to live with a parent, a person who has custody of you, or a relative who is already the holder of a student guardian visa, you must lodge form 157N Nomination of a student guardian at the nearest office of the department. Further information can be found on form 1234i Application for a student guardian visa or the department’s website.

– You must continue to be a person who would satisfy the primary or secondary criteria, as the case requires, for the grant of the visa.

Detailed information on student visa conditions is available on the department’s website.

Breaching a student visa condition may result in cancellation of your visa.

1 Except in extremely limited circumstances which are outside your control, or to engage Australia’s protection obligation under the 1951 UN convention relating to the status of refugees.

Permission to work

When applying for your initial student visa, you are required to provide evidence of financial capacity to support your period of stay in Australia. Permission to work is intended to provide you with an enriched cultural and social experience in Australia. You should not rely on work to fund your studies.

From April 2008, all eligible student Subclass 570-576 visas will include permission to work as part of the initial student visa grant.

If you and your family members are granted permission to work in your initial student visas you will be allowed to work up to 20 hours per week once your course has commenced. Neither you nor your family members may commence work until the principal visa holder has commenced studying.

While the course you are studying is in session you cannot work more than 20 hours per week. No work limits apply during recognised periods of vacation offered by your education provider. Family members will be allowed to work up to 20 hours per week throughout the year. If you commence your masters or doctorate course your family member will have unrestricted permission to work.

The limit on work hours is strictly enforced by the department.

If you have any concerns about your pay and conditions, or other issues, at work you can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman (all state and territories except Western Australia) at http://www.fwo.gov.au and Wageline on 1300 655 266 (Western Australia only).

Members of your family unit

A member of the family unit is your partner (spouse or de facto) or a dependent child of you or your partner who is not married, not in a de facto relationship and who has not turned 18.

Members of your family unit may apply for a student (Subclass 570-576) visa to live with you in Australia as your family unit members. They can apply at the same time as you, or after you have arrived in Australia. However, your family members cannot be granted a student visa if your application is processed at Assessment Level 3, 4 or 5 and your proposed course of study is 12 months or less in duration.

All members of your family unit must be declared on your application whether or not they intend to travel to Australia at any time. A member who is not declared will not be eligible for entry to Australia as your family unit member, except for a person who becomes a member after your application was decided. A person who becomes a member after you lodged your application and before it is decided is eligible for entry provided you inform the department in writing of that member’s personal particulars and provide evidence of their relationship to you.

Periods of stay granted to members of your family unit will generally be the same as your period of stay. Your family members should ensure they always hold a valid visa while in Australia.

Your partner will have a condition on their visa that limits their period of study in Australia to a maximum of 3 months. If your partner wishes to undertake a course of study beyond this period they must apply for a student visa in their own right. This application for change of status from student dependant to student may be made in Australia.

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