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Student Visa Changes from 24 March 2012

The contents of this article are correct as at 11 April 2012.

The Australian government announced a number of beneficial changes for student visa applicants effective as of 24 March 2012.

Changes to Assessment Levels

Student visa applicants who lodge their applications with a Confirmation of Enrolment from a participating university in Australia for a Bachelor, Masters (by coursework) or Doctoral degree will be assessed as though they were a lower migration risk (similar to Assessment Level 1) regardless of their country of origin. This means there will be less onerous criteria in terms of English and financial requirements. In addition, there may be faster visa processing times.

More flexible work conditions

The previous work condition of 20 hours per week during session will be changed to 40 hours per fortnight during any fortnight whilst the course is in session.

Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Student visa holders will have unlimited work hours once their course has commenced.

These changes apply to both new and existing student visa holders, and will take effect from 26 March 2012.

Flexible arrangements for English language study

The maximum period of English language study for Schools Sector (Subclass 571) visa holders subject to Assessment Level 3 (for example holders of passports from Turkey, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Croatia) and above will be increased to 50 weeks. Previously, Assessment Level 3 students were restricted to 40 weeks, and Assessment Level 4 students to 30 weeks.

In addition, new Student Guardian (Subclass 580) visa holders will be able to undertake English language study on a part time basis (less than 20 hours per week) whilst in Australia. Previously, no study rights were given to such visa holders.

The requirement for Assessment Level 4 Schools Sector (Subclass 571) applicants (for example holders of passports from China and Bangladesh) to provide evidence of an English language proficiency test to support their application for a Student visa will also be removed.

Other important changes

Student visas will now be granted up to 4 months prior to course commencement.

Additionally, many applicants, especially those wishing to undertake University studies, will be able to lodge applications online.

Also, the need to demonstrate English language skills for University entrants has been removed. Universities will determine the appropriate English language standard.

For those not applying to undertake studies to Universities, there will be alternative English Language Proficiency Tests to the IELTS.

A further significant change is the abolishment of automatic cancellation of student visas, and mandatory cancellation of student visas for:

  • Unsatisfactory attendance 

  • Unsatisfactory progress
  • Working in excess of the hours allowed·  

These are welcome changes for international students who already have limited rights in Australia.

We have a wealth of experience with student visa matters, especially difficult applications.

We can assist with:

  • Strategies to avoid student visa cancellation (including appeals to Tribunals, Courts and Government Departments)

  • Assistance with appeals involving student visa cancellations

  • Merits review where visa applications are refused

  • Preparation of submissions in complex student visa applications

  • Preparing student visa applications

·     If you have any questions please click this link to contact Visa Lawyers Australia.