In this post:

An overview of CRICOS

General considerations of subclass500

Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) Criterion

English Language Proficiency

Financial Resources

Health Insurance

Health and Character Checks

Work while Studying

Visa Conditions

What happens after you graduate

Frequently Asked Questions

We're glad you're considering Australia as an education destination! Was it the fact that there are 22,000 duly registered courses offered in 1,100 institutions?  Or was it because 5 Australian cities ranked in the top 30 of the QS Best Student Cities 2016?  Or was it perhaps because in the University System Ranking, Australia ranked 9th in the world, ahead of Germany, New Zealand and Japan?

Whatever your reason for studying in Australia is, you'll be happy to know that the application procedure has never been as simple as it is now.

By consolidating various subclasses of visas for international students into one (Subclass 500), the government of Australia has made it easier for people to study in the country.  While protocol may have been modified, the general procedure has remained the same and there are two main requirements for international students:

Return to Australia Student Visa TOC 

It all starts with CRICOS.

Like all responsible hosts, the government of Australia does its best to ensure that international students enjoy a good quality of education.  Australian universities and colleges that accept international students therefore try to meet the requirements as explained in the National Code of Practice.  

Academic institutions with courses listed in the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students or CRICOS meet the minimum standards especially with regard to good practice procedures to protect your interests should you decide to study in Australia.  

You can be assured that you will be receiving the quality of education you and your family expect when you enroll in a CRICOS registered program because:

Is your intended program of study is CRICOS-registered?

Return to Australia Student Visa TOC 

General Considerations of Subclass 500

In addition to having to study full-time in your CRICOS-registered course, eligible family members may accompany you to Australia provided they prove to be eligible.

What is Considered a "Full Time Program" of Study

As an international student, you must maintain full time enrolment. You will be considered in breach of your student visa conditions if you don't.

In some circumstances though, you may be permitted to enrol in a lighter study load. This request will have to be approved each semester or trimester when you do not intend to enrol in full-time study.  You should know though that if you do not complete your course within the expected course or visa duration due to a reduced study load, you may have to apply for another student visa.  

In addition to enrolling in a full-time study program, you must maintain satisfactory course progress for each study period for the duration of the course (Visa condition 8202).   Your academic status will be determined at the end of each semester.  If your status is Terminated, this will be taken as not achieving satisfactory course progress and your case will be reported to DIBP for breach of student visa conditions. This can lead to visa cancellation.

Validity of the visa

A student visa may be granted for up to five years, but it could be longer or shorter under some circumstances. It may be shorter for primary school-aged students with a maximum visa validity of two years. The visa grant could be longer if:

To help you plan what you may do post-course completion, just use the following guidelines:

Visa Application Fee

As of December 2016, the visa application fees for student visa applicants (in Australian Dollars) for Subclass 500 is as follows:

Base application charge

$550

Additional applicant charge 18 and over

$410

Additional applicant charge under 18

$135

Subsequent temporary application charge

$700

Get an invitation to a FREE, personalized orientation with a Migration Associate!  

Enrolment

The following is a simplified version of the Australian student visa application.

As stated in previous sections, you must be enrolled in a course of study that is CRICOS-registered.  From the image above, you can see that you will be needing a Confirmation of Enrolment or CoE from each intended course of study with your visa application.  You may not need a CoE though if you are:

Your accompanying family members aged 18 years or older can study in Australia for up to three months. If they want to study for more than three months, they must apply for their own student visa.

Packaged Courses

You can apply to enrol and complete two or more courses on your Student visa (subclass 500) where there is clear progression from one course to another, known as course packaging.

The final course that you will take as part of your package of courses is your main (or principal) course of study.  Regardless of how many courses there are in your enrolment package, the main course of study determines your financial and English language evidentiary requirements. In addition, you must be enrolled in all of the courses.

Return to Australia Student Visa TOC

Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) Criterion

To ensure that applicants for a student intend to study, continue to maintain their lawful status in Australia by adhering to the conditions of their visa, the Australian Government  Department of Immigration and Border Protection (or DIBP) set some eligibility requirements for applicants to meet. 

These conditions were also developed to further assess the applicants' genuine intention to study and not:

The Genuine Temporary Entrant (or GTE) criterion is used to validly rule out the risks to immigration law of student visa holders.  It was not designed to exclude students who may develop skills needed in Australia post-course completion and eventually apply for skilled immigration. 

As such, the GTE requirement applies to all applicants for a student visa and is the main consideration by a DIBP Officer for evaluating whether an applicant intends to live temporarily in Australia.

To ensure that you are a GTE, the DIBP Officer will consider the following factors:

And remember in Australia, the course/study program you enroll in and work opportunities are directly linked.   This is important because some programs offer direct pathways to onshore (in Australia) skilled visa options. 

Return to Australia Student Visa TOC

English Language Proficiency

While a demonstration of English language proficiency is generally needed, there are some exceptions to the rule.  Check if any of the following applies to you:

The exams and acceptable test scores are as follows:

English language test providers

Minimum test score

Minimum test score where combined with at least 10 weeks ELICOS

Minimum test score where combined with at least 20 weeks ELICOS

International English Language Testing System

5.5

5

4.5

*Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) paper based

527

500

450

TOEFL internet based test

46

35

32

Cambridge English: Advanced (Certificate in Advanced English)

162

154

147

Pearson Test of English Academic

42

36

30

Occupational English Test

Pass

N/A

N/A

Important Tip: you must have sat for the English language exam at the latest, two  years before you apply for your student visa and the results should be lodged with your application.

Return to Australia Student Visa TOC

Financial Resources

It goes without saying that you will need to have ready access to sufficient funds to pay for:

The funds must be genuinely available to you and should not be considered "show money."  

You have two options to comply with the "Evidence of Funds" requirement:

Twelve-month option

We've listed the 12-month living costs of each family member which took effect on July 1, 2016:

In some circumstances, you do not have to provide evidence of schooling costs.  Check if the following apply to you:

When considering whether the funds will be genuinely available to you while you are studying and living in Australia, DIBP will take the following factors into account:

DIBP identifies the following family members (in addition to yourself) as acceptable for providing funds for your stay and studies in Australia:

To be considered acceptable by DIBP to evaluate your application, you may submit evidence such as:

In contrast, the following are not acceptable evidence of funds for the purpose of your visa application:

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Important Tip: you may be asked to provide evidence of your financial capacity and be asked to include it in your visa application or demonstrate proof even while your application is being processed.  It may therefore be beneficial to prepare your documents in advance just in case you will be requested to submit these to a DIBP Officer.

Annual Income Option

If you choose this option, you will be required to demonstrate personal annual income of:

The income refers to:

If both of your parents are working, you may use their combined income to fulfill this requirement. Proof must be in the form of official government documents such as tax assessments (income tax returns, W2 forms, tax withholding).  Bank statements or information directly from an employer are not acceptable.

Return to Australia Student Visa TOC

Health Insurance

Students must have adequate health insurance while in Australia. This can be shown by obtaining Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) which provides medical and hospital insurance.  You should remember the policy number since this information must be included in the visa application,

Where the education provider arranges for OSHC coverage, the student will need to know the name of your health insurance provider, the date that the policy starts and finishes and should be aware of the terms and conditions of that health insurance policy. 

The current approved OSHC providers are:

Return to Australia Student Visa TOC

Health and Character Checks

As part of the visa application process, applicants over the age of 16 need to submit to health examinations and character checks (NBI clearance as well as police clearance from the country or countries where the applicant has lived or resided for at least one (1) year in the last 10 years.

The certificate must cover the period of time from the issue date back to the age the applicant is considered an adult, or must cover the whole time the applicant was in a country or countries. For immigration purposes a police certificate is deemed to be valid for 12 months from the issue date.

You will be notified If a medical and/or x-ray examination is required. When you receive that, you will have to make arrangements with a panel doctor of your choice.  A panel doctor is a doctor or a radiologist who has been approved by the Australian Government as a member of the panel to perform medical examinations on visa applicants who have applied from outside Australia.

CHECK DIBP's list of panel physicians.

Because the health assessment process can take several weeks to complete it is recommended that the applicant choose to have the health examination with designated and authorized panel of physicians prior to lodging your visa application.

Return to Australia Student Visa TOC

Work while Studying

Once your application has been approved, you should check your visa conditions to know the number of hours that you and your family members can work while you are in Australia. Remember, you must comply with the state and territory laws of Australia.

Your application was approved based on your declaration that you have sufficient funds to cover your and your accompanying family members' living and tuition expenses in Australia.  Therefore, government will be expecting you not to rely on work to support yourself or your family while living in the country.

You cannot work until you have commenced your course in Australia. Once your course has commenced you are permitted to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight when your course is in session, and unlimited hours when your course is not in session.

Work that is a formal registered part of your course is not included in the limit of 40 hours per fortnight.  Also, voluntary, unpaid work, is not included in the limit of 40 hours per fortnight if it:

If the voluntary work could have been undertaken by an Australian resident who would have received a wage, then this is included in the 40 hours.

If you are a postgraduate research student:

Family members:

A fortnight is a period of 14 days commencing on any Monday and ending on the second following Sunday.  This is how 40 hours a fortnight is calculated once your course begins:

In the fortnight comprising weeks one and two above (40 hours worked in that 14 day period) or in the fortnight comprising weeks three and four above (35 hours worked in that 14 day period), the work condition is not breached. However, the student visa holder has breached their work condition in the fortnight comprising weeks two and three above (50 hours worked in that 14 day period).  

Important Tip:  Your visa may be cancelled if you are discovered to have violated your work conditions.  

Your course to be 'in session':

You must obtain a Tax File Number to be able to work in Australia. This is available from the Australian Tax Office.

Return to Australia Student Visa TOC

Australia Student Visa Conditions

 You must comply with the visa conditions for attendance and academic performance  after you have entered Australia or risk cancellation of your visa.  Some of the following conditions may be attached to your visa. Check if any of these apply to you:

Condition number

Description

8105

  • You cannot work more than 40 hours per fortnight when your course is in session (other than work which has been registered as a part of the course). A fortnight means any period of 14 days commencing on a Monday and ending at the end of the second following Sunday. 
  • You can work for more than 40 hours per fortnight during recognised vacation periods offered by your education provider.
  • You cannot start paid work until you have started your course in Australia.
  • No work limits apply if you are studying a Masters by research or Doctorate course in Australia.

8202

  • You must remain enrolled in a registered course (unless you are a Foreign Affairs or Defence sponsored student or secondary exchange student in which case you must maintain full-time enrolment in your course of study or training).
  • You must maintain enrolment in a registered course that is the same level as, or at a higher level than, the registered course for which you were granted a visa.
  • You must maintain satisfactory attendance in your course and course progress for each study period as required by your education provider.

8501

  • You must maintain adequate arrangements for Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) during your stay in Australia.

8516

  • You must continue to satisfy the requirements for grant of your student visa. This means, for example, that you continue to have sufficient financial capacity to support your study and stay in Australia.

8517

  • You must maintain adequate schooling arrangements for your school-age dependents who joined you in Australia for more than 3 months as part of your student visa application.

8532

  • If you are younger than 18 years of age, you must have adequate accommodation and support, and your general welfare must be maintained for the duration of your stay in Australia. 
  • To maintain your welfare, you must stay in Australia with:
    • your parent or legal custodian or;
    • a relative who has been nominated by your parents or custodians who is aged over 21 and is of good character or;
    • have accommodation, support and general welfare arrangements in place that have been approved by your education provider.
  • You must not change your arrangements without the written approval of your education provider.  If your welfare arrangements are approved by your education provider you must not travel to Australia until your welfare arrangements start.

8533

  • You must tell your education provider:
    • the address where you live in Australia within seven days of arriving in Australia
    • if you change the address where you live within seven days of the change
    • if you change education provider within seven days of receiving the electronic confirmation of enrolment certificate or evidence of enrolment.

8535

  • While you remain in Australia, you are not entitled to be granted a further substantive visa, other than:
  • Note: The effect of this visa condition is that, except in extremely limited circumstances, it will not be possible for you to remain in Australia beyond the date authorised by your visa.
    • a protection visa
    • a Student visa (subclass 500) granted on the basis of support from the Commonwealth government or a foreign government.
8303
  • You must not be involved in activities that are disruptive to, or in violence threaten harm to, the Australian community or a group within the Australian community.
8534
  • While you remain in Australia, you are not entitled to be granted a further substantive visa, other than:
    • a protection visa;
    • a Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485);
    • a Student Guardian visa (subclass 590).
8535
  • While you remain in Australia, you are not entitled to be granted a further substantive visa, other than:
    • a protection visa
    • a Student visa (subclass 500) granted on the basis of support from the Commonwealth government or a foreign government
  • Note: The effect of this visa condition is that, except in extremely limited circumstances, it will not be possible for you to remain in Australia beyond the date authorised by your visa.

Return to Australia Student Visa TOC

What happens after you graduate?

Once you have completed your course, you need to either leave Australia before your visa expires, or lodge a new visa application.

You must contact DIBP immiediately if your visa expires while you are still studying.  You may face a bar of up to three years if your visa has expired for more than 28 days and you are still in Australia.

If your visa has an attachec 8534 or 8535 visa condition (No Further Stay) attached to it, you can not apply to extend your stay in Australia.  Otherwise, you might be able to extend your stay in Australia for:

In general, you can only hold one visa at a time. A new visa (other than a bridging visa) will generally replace any other visa that you hold and come into effect as soon as it is granted. You should contact DIBP though before lodging a visa application if you have questions about how a new visa would affect your existing visa.

You may want to extend your stay in Australia once you've completed your program in any of the following visa options:

Return to Australia Student Visa TOC

Frequently Asked Questions about the Australian Student Visa category

No. You only need to submit a copy of the main page (called the bio-page) of your passport. Your case officer may request that you submit your original passport for verification purposes.

It may be to your advantage to have a passport with a longer validity to avoid any inconveniences in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

If you provide your e-mail address when submitting your application and authorise the Embassy to use it in your application form, an acknowledgement of your application will be sent.  Make sure your email address is valid!

Processing time varies per consular post.  You should submit your application ahead of time to ensure that you do make it to your orientation. 

If you lodged your application online, the additional information should be uploaded through your ImmiAccount. For paper applications, additional supporting documents can be submitted through the Australian Visa Application Centre.

If your application is successful, a Visa Grant Notice will be sent to you. You are strongly advised to bring the Visa Grant Notice with you when you depart for Australia.  If your application was refused, a Decision Record will be provided and any avenues for appeal if applicable. This would also detail the reason for the decision and what legislative requirement you failed to meet.

If you indicate you authorise e-mail contact and provide a valid e-mail address, your case officer can quickly get your decision to you on the day it is made.

There is no prescribed period within which you can re-apply, provided you are not covered by any application bar (or a prohibition for you to submit another application within a certain period). The decision record will indicate if you are covered by any application bar.

From July 1, 2016, some people have been able to convert their visa while in Australia.  You must however, use the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s (DIBP) Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system to confirm whether you are eligible for onshore visa applications.

You will have to confer with your Education Provider about this as each institution may have its own protocol.  You may have to demonstrate compassionate or compelling circumstances that will have a negative impact your course progress or wellbeing.  Whatever the reason for filing for a leave of absence though, your education provider is obliged to inform DIBP of any changes of enrolment.

Return to Australia Student Visa TOC

Be proactive about your career plans

Get the information you need before deciding to study overseas

About the Authors

Crispin Aranda

Crispin Aranda

Crispin R. Aranda is an established International Visa Conselor and Immigrant Advocate. He is the president of IVC and is in several migration radio programs.

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer S. Aranda is the COO of IVC Immigrant Visa Center, Inc.


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