With 5 of the top 50 universities in the world being in Australia in 2018, it should come as no surprise that this is the third most popular international student destination in the world (www.topuniversities.com). Australia offers world class study facilities and educators, providing both local and international students a diverse range of study options. With a plethora of Government-funded scholarships for international students, on top of university-specific and private enterprise scholarships on offer, if you’re serious about your education, Australia presents a very attractive option and Sydney and Melbourne are the top Australian student cities that are worth taking a closer look at.
Once you have been accepted by a university, you will need to apply for a student visa (subclass 500). This single visa replaces the 7 previous student visa subclasses 570-576, forming part of a Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF), and applications can be lodged online in most cases. Subclass 500 allows you to remain in Australia to study full-time in a recognised education institution.
Eligibility for Student Visa (Subclass 500)
For your application, we have pulled together some of the key criteria you will need to meet. These are:
Enrolment onto a course
Applicants will need to provide evidence of registration onto a course that has been included on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions of Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). An online code and a letter showing proof of enrolment is usually sufficient. It is possible to change the course once you have applied for your visa, but you may need to reapply for it if the level of study is different.
Demonstrate genuine intention to study
The genuine temporary entrant (GTE) requirement is basically an assessment based on a statement made in your application, to ensure that you will be staying in australia for the purposes of studying rather than to access ongoing residency in Australia. This may require applicants to describe how the course is relevant to their background and future intentions. Essentially, if immigration are not convinced they have discretion to reject the application.
Evidence proficiency in English language
Applicants may need to demonstrate English language skills through a test. There are exceptions such as if an applicant is a citizen of the UK, Canada, USA, South Africa or the Republic of Ireland, or, if an applicant has completed at least 5 years study in the aforementioned countries. Check the government website (www.border.gov.au) and if you find that you need to complete an English language course there are multitude of options in Australia. The government has a student visa available for ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Student, ELICOS Student Visa Subclass 570).
Satisfy financial capacity requirements
Sufficient funds to cover course fees, cost of living, and travel for 12 months whilst in Australia will need to be evidenced by the applicant. This will also need to cover any dependants/guardians that will be accompanying a student. Funds can be shown through:
- Deposits in a bank or financial institution (refer to our guide on paying overseas tuition fees);
- Loan from a financial institution;
Depending on your country of passport and the institution you will be studying at, evidence requirements may differ. In certain scenarios, you may also need to provide evidence that your parents are earning enough to support you.
Health examinations may also be required as part of the application. Be aware, these can take several weeks to process so plan ahead and book this in early.
Whilst in Australia applicants will need to obtain Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) with a government approved provider. There are multiple provider options so you can shop around for the most suitable cover to include medical and hospital insurance during your stay.
The visa application form, not unlike passport applications, includes a number of character related questions. You may also be asked to provide a police certificate for each country you have lived in for 12+ months.
If you are applying within Australia you will need to ensure you hold a current temporary substantive visa (i.e. not a bridging visa, criminal justice or enforcement visa) which excludes certain subclasses such as the 426/403/995/771 or 600. Again check on the government website for a definitive and up-to-date list.
The new Simplified Student Visa Framework should provide a simpler application process to follow as there is only one visa now for overseas students. For certain applicants, for instance if your circumstances are considered low risk, the benefits are lower documentary requirements, onshore lodgement, and an overall simplified process.
Xiong Xiao, a PhD candidate currently studying and teaching at the University of Western Australia is awarded BestExchangeRate.com’s first scholarship for foreign students in Australia.
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