Australia Student Visa – How To Apply

Last Updated on July 4, 2024 by NAMS Editor

Australia is a popular study abroad destination for students worldwide due to its high-quality education system, diverse culture and beautiful natural environments. However, applying for and obtaining a student visa can seem daunting at first. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about applying for an Australia student visa, from eligibility requirements to supporting documents and visa subclasses. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of the application process and be well prepared to apply.

Eligibility Requirements

Before applying for an Australia student visa, you need to ensure you meet the basic eligibility requirements. The key things that will be assessed include:

Proof of Acceptance into an Approved Course

You must have a valid offer of a place in a government-approved course from an education provider in Australia that is registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). The course must be at least six months or longer in duration.

English Language Requirements

There are minimum English language proficiency requirements that must be met depending on the type of course. For most courses, you need an overall IELTS score of 6.0 or equivalent. Higher levels are needed for some postgraduate courses and vocational education courses. Many education providers have their own, often higher, English language entry requirements as well.

Financial Capacity

You need to demonstrate you have sufficient funds to cover tuition fees and living costs for the entire duration of your course. The minimum amount required varies depending on the type of course and how long it is. Living costs are approximately $21,041 per year.

Health Requirements

Applicants must meet Australia’s health requirements. You may need to undergo a medical examination and provide a recent x-ray for conditions like tuberculosis if requested. Vaccinations are also required for some illnesses.

Character and Conduct Requirements

Your character will be checked to ensure you have no serious criminal record or outstanding debts in Australia. Minor traffic fines may be acceptable but more substantial offences could result in visa refusal. Honesty is important throughout the application process.

Choosing the Right Student Visa Subclass

Once you determine you meet the basic eligibility criteria, the next step is choosing the correct student visa subclass to apply under based on your study plans. Here are the main options:

Student Visa (Subclass 500)

This is for students coming to Australia to study a registered course at diploma level and above. It allows you to study, access work rights on-campus (20 hours per week) and off-campus during scheduled course breaks. Post-study work rights of up to two years are available upon graduation.

Vocational Education and Training Sector (Subclass 572)

For vocational or trade-related courses below diploma level, such as Certificate III/IV qualifications. Provides similar rights as the 500 visa including 20 hours of work per fortnight while studying.

School Sector (Subclass 571)

For students wishing to complete their senior secondary education (Years 11-12) at an Australian high school. Provides limited work rights and leads directly to post-study work rights if certain academic requirements are met.

Non-Award Sector (Subclass 574)

Allowing study of short recreational or language courses without leading to a formal award. Provides limited work rights and a maximum stay of three months.

Carefully consider which subclass aligns best with your study goals before deciding which visa stream to pursue. Consulting an education agent can help identify the optimal option.

Assembling Required Supporting Documents

With eligibility confirmed and subclass selected, it’s time to gather the necessary supporting documents to submit with your visa application. The application process is entirely online through the Department of Home Affairs ImmiAccount portal.

Supporting evidence required generally includes:

  • Valid passport with at least 6 months validity beyond course duration
  • Proof of English language ability (IELTS/TOEFL results)
  • Academic qualifications deemed equivalent to Year 12 or higher in Australia
  • Applicants under 18 need guardianship documents
  • Evidence of funds (bank statements, letters of financial support)
  • Letter of offer from education provider
  • Photographs (size35mm x 45mm)
  • CV/resume
  • Skills assessment results (for some professions)

Additionally, character documents like police clearances may be requested from certain countries. Organise certified translations if documents are not in English. Thoroughly check all documents meet requirements to avoid rejection and re-lodgement delays.

Lodging the Online Application

Once supporting documents are in order, it’s time to submit the online visa application. Here are the key steps:

  1. Create an ImmiAccount and link application to account
  2. Complete the online application form truthfully and carefully
  3. Upload documents as individual files in the correct sections
  4. Pay the visa application charge – currently around $7,715 AUD for a 500 visa
  5. Submit the application and print the confirmation page
  6. Arrange mandatory health examinations or police clearances as requested
  7. Wait for assessment decision within published processing times

Processing usually takes around 12 weeks but can be faster or longer depending on individual circumstances. Notifying the education provider allows them to defer your course start date if needed. Regularly check ImmiAccount for any requests or visa grant notifications.

Communication During Application Assessment

Though processing times are provided, it’s common to experience some delays as visa applications involve complex assessments. Staying in touch with the assessing officer can help. The key ways to communicate include:

  • Using the update us function in ImmiAccount to check application status
  • Replying promptly if any requests for further documents or information arise
  • Contacting the department if outside published timeframes to avoid applications lapsing
  • Only contacting if genuinely urgent – assessing officers are busy people!
  • Education providers can also check on status occasionally with permission

Remaining patient yet proactive allows any potential issues to be resolved smoothly. Unnecessary follow-ups can slow assessment down so be mindful to only communicate when truly needed.

What to Do if the Visa is Granted

Receiving that coveted “granted” letter is exciting! However, there are still important final steps before coming to Australia:

  • Check conditions and ensure correct subclass and duration are shown
  • Inform your education provider of the grant so a Confirmation of Enrolment can be issued
  • Book flights only after receiving the Confirmation of Enrolment document
  • Organise compulsory Overseas Student Health Cover from date of arrival
  • Ensure adequate travel insurance is in place for the inbound journey
  • Confirm airport reception arrangements if under 18 on arrival
  • Pack light, bring only what you really need to settle in Australia
  • Arrive according to the designated travel dates on your visa

Being aware of these post-grant responsibilities allows students to make a smooth transition from visa application to commencement of studies abroad in Australia. Sticking to conditions permits ongoing compliance throughout the student journey.

What Happens if the Visa is Refused?

Sadly visa applications can sometimes be refused if requirements are not fully met. Common grounds for refusal include:

  • Insufficient funds to support study costs
  • Inadequate proof of English level
    -Invalid or fraudulent documents submitted
  • Incomplete application lacking information
  • Character/conduct issues like serious criminal convictions

If refused, applicants will receive a reasons for refusal letter stating which criteria were not satisfied. There are a limited number of review pathways that can be explored:

  • Make corrections or new submission if administrative error or lacking documents
  • Request reconsideration for significant new information within 28 days
  • Lodge merits review through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal if believe incorrect decision made

However, reapplying quickly after refusal before issues are properly addressed rarely results in a different outcome. It’s best to seek advice to identify weaknesses and find strategies to strengthen a new application.

Maintaining Your Student Visa in Australia

While studying in Australia, it is critical to remain aware of student visa conditions and obligations. Key responsibilities include:

  • Maintain a full-time study load of minimum 20-25 hours per week
  • Only undertake authorised work as outlined by visa subclass conditions
  • Maintain Overseas Student Health Cover for entire stay
  • Notify provider of new addresses within 7 days of moving
  • Pay semester fees on time and maintain course progress
  • Do not exceed the allowable time spent outside Australia

Monitoring visa expiry dates ensures timely applications for extensions, transfers or post-study work visas if able to gain relevant skills and experience. Remaining compliant is important to avoid visa cancellation, which results in having to depart Australia immediately. Any immigration queries can be clarified through education providers or directly with the Department of Home Affairs.

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