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Australia welcomes genuine students
The contents of this article are correct as at 20 November 2011.

The Australian government has recently changed the requirements for student visas to make it easier for students to come to Australia to study.

Students who enroll in a Bachelor or Masters degree course at a university now need only satisfy the minimum financial and English language evidentiary requirements (Assessment Level 1 criteria) regardless of country of origin. These arrangements are also available to vocational education students who bundle their vocational course with a Bachelor or Masters degree at a university.

Research students (those enrolling in PhD and Masters by Research courses) will also have full time work rights from the time their course commences, and an extra six months added to their student visa to allow for thesis marking.

For students enrolling in school or vocational courses, the funding requirements have been reduced.

In addition, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will now accept a wider range of English language test results for all student visa applications.

At the same time, DIAC has introduced ‘Genuine Temporary Entry’ and new public interest requirements to ensure the integrity of the student visa program. These new criteria apply to all student visa applications.

 

Financial Requirements – University courses

DIAC has introduced reduced funding requirements for students who enroll in a Bachelor or Masters course at a university.

For the purposes of English language and financial criteria, DIAC will treat these applicants as though they were Assessment Level 1, regardless of country of origin.

These arrangements will also be available to students enrolling in vocational courses who bundle the vocational course with a Bachelor or Masters degree course at a university.  

The funding and English language requirements for AL1 are as follows:

  • A declaration stating that you have access to funds that are sufficient to meet your course, travel and living costs for the duration of the course. DIAC considers living costs to be at least $18,000 per year.
  • Evidence that you have a level of English language proficiency that satisfies the proposed Australian education provider.

Financial Requirements – Assessment Level 4 countries*

The funding requirements for school and vocational education applicants from Assessment Level 4 countries have been reduced by $18,000.

AL4 applicants need to provide DIAC with evidence of the following available funding:

1.       Return travel costs (or evidence of a return ticket);

2.       Course fees (or evidence that these have already been paid);

3.       Living costs to cover the first 24 months @ $18,000 per year = $36,000;

4.       Declaration that you will have funding to cover the remaining period of stay beyond the first 24 months.

 

DIAC has specific requirements about the form of funding and who the funding is held by.

 

* Assessment level 4 countries currently include: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Ghana, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Assessment levels are determined by a variety of factors and are subject to change. We recommend that you seek professional migration advice to determine the assessment level that applies to you.

Financial Requirements – Assessment Level 3 countries#

The funding requirements for applicants from Assessment Level 3 countries have been reduced by $9,000.

The funding requirements are as follows:

1.       Return travel costs (or evidence of a return ticket);

2.       Course fees (or evidence that these have already been paid);

3.       Living costs to cover the first 18 months @ $18,000 per year = $27,000;

4.       Declaration that you will have funding to cover the remaining period of stay beyond the first 18 months.

 

DIAC has specific requirements about the form of funding and who the funding is held by.

# Assessment level 3 covers all countries not allocated to other levels. Assessment levels are determined by a variety of factors and are subject to change. We recommend that you seek professional migration advice to determine the assessment level that applies to you.

English Language Tests

IELTS is no longer the only English language test that DIAC will accept for student visa applications.

Student visa applicants are now able to use a wider range of standardized English language tests. The scores required depend on the country of origin and the course to be studied in Australia:

  • IELTS (Academic or General) – overall band score of 4.5 – 7.0
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) – paper-based – scores of 500 – 550
  • TOEFL iBT – internet-based – scores of 46 – 94
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) – score of 41 - 67
  • Pearson Test of English – Academic (PTE Academic) – scores of 36 - 65
  • Occupational English Test (OET) - PASS

 

Genuine Temporary Entry requirements

DIAC will be undertaking a more involved assessment of student visas to ensure that applicants have genuine intentions to study and are not using the student visa program to:

  • Leave their country of origin for any reason except for studying a course that will assist the student’s future career

  • Enter Australia for any reason except for studying a course that will assist the student’s future career
  • Remain in Australia for long periods (i.e. maintain ‘de facto residency’) by rolling from one course to the next

  • Avoid obligations in the applicant’s home country

When assessing the Genuine Temporary Entrant criteria, DIAC will consider the following factors. Applicants may need to provide further evidence and submissions to answer the types of questions listed below. For applicants under the age of 18, DIAC will assess the intentions of their parents, guardian or adult spouse.

  • The applicant's circumstances in their home country

    • What is the reason the course cannot be studied in the applicant’s home country?
    • What personal/ family ties does the applicant have with their home country?
    • What economic incentive does the applicant have for returning to their home country?
    • Are there military/ national service commitments that the applicant may be trying to avoid?
    • Is there political/ civil unrest in the applicant’s home country?
  • The applicant’s circumstances in Australia
    • What personal/ family ties does the applicant have with Australia that might encourage them to try to remain in Australia long-term?
    • What courses has the applicant studied already? Does the student’s proposed study in Australia show the development of career skills?
    • What economic incentive does the applicant have for trying to remain in Australia?
    • Can the applicant show that they have researched their intended course of study, education provider, the requirements for entry to the course, and general living conditions in Australia?
  • The value and relevance of the course to the applicant’s future
    • Is the applicant applying for a course that is consistent with their level of education?
    • Will the course assist the applicant to obtain employment or improve employment prospects in their home country?
    • Is the proposed course relevant to the applicant’s past/ future career or study pathways?
    • What salary could the applicant expect to receive in their home country, compared to Australia, with the proposed qualifications?
  • The applicant’s immigration history
    • Has the applicant previously had an Australian visa refused or cancelled?
    • Has the applicant previously had a visa application to another country refused or cancelled?
    • Did the applicant previously comply with the conditions on their previous Australian visas (if applicable)?
    • Did the applicant previously comply with the immigration laws of other countries they have visited?
    • How long has the student been in Australia on student visas?
    • How many courses has the student enrolled in overall?
    • Has the applicant successfully completed any qualifications during this time?
    • Is the new proposed study relevant to these qualifications?
    • How long has the student been in Australia on temporary visas overall?
  • Any other matter considered relevant
    • Information provided by the applicant in their application
    • Information available to DIAC from other sources about the applicant
    • Information available to DIAC from other sources about a relative of the applicant
    • Infoormation available to DIAC about the country of origin
Examples of where a person might fail the Genuine Temporary Entry requirement may inlcude:
  • Enrolling in a series of short, inexpensive courses, which DIAC believes are only being undertaken in order to prolong the person’s stay in Australia.
  • Extensive periods of time in Australia without having successfully completed a qualification.
  • Extensive periods of time in Australia moving from course to course or to different education providers.
  • A history of visa refusal, or non-compliance with immigration requirements in Australia or another country.

Public Interest requirements

Applications for student visas will now be subject to more rigorous tests against fraud.

Student visa applications will be refused if:

  • There is evidence that the applicant has provided false/ misleading documents or information to an Australian immigration authority; or
  • The applicant or a member of their family have been refused a visa because of fraud; and
  • The applicant cannot demonstrate:
    • Compelling circumstances that affects Australia’s best interests; or
    • Compassionate circumstances that affect the interests of an Australian·

Likely difficulties with Student Visa Applications

It is likely that student visa applicants will need to provide DIAC with further evidence and legal submissions when applying for a student visa, to demonstrate the genuine student and temporary entrant criteria. This could make applications more difficult, especially for:

  • Students in courses at diploma level or lower, especially if they already have higher level qualifications such as degrees from Australia or overseas
  • Students who undertake a series of qualifications in Australia, especially at diploma level or lower
  • Students who have held a series of student visas
  • Students who wish to undertake short term English courses where it is apparent that their language skills are already sufficient
  • Students who wish to undertake short-term courses

We expect an increase in the number of student visa refusals and appeals to the Migration Review Tribunal.

We have a wealth of experience with student visa applications.

Please click this link to contact Visa Lawyers Australia if you:

  • Require assistance with preparing a student visa application
  • Experience difficulty with your student visa application during processing
  • Would like support with lodging an appeal of a decision to refuse a student visa application