On June 2014, there were 339,763 international students in the country, 22% from China and 12% from India. Overall, approximately 92% of all students who applied for an Australian student visa were successful. A great benefit of holding this visa is the ability to work and study at the same time. You may work up to 40 hours within a 2 week period while school in session, and for as many hours as you like in the holidays. Getting a student visa is a fairly easy process, depending on the country from which you are applying. Once you have received your Confirmation of Enrolment from the school of your choice, you can apply either online or in writing, and should receive the visa quite quickly.
Steps to getting your visa
1. Research the school you would like to attend, or go to an education agent for help.
2. Apply to the program/school.
3. Receive a provisional 'Letter of Offer' from the school.
4. Pay your tuition fee, and purchase Overseas Student Health Cover.
5. Receive your 'Confirmation of Enrolment' (COE) from the school.
6. Pay for and submit your student visa application online.
7. Receive your visa!
Important: You can only apply for your student visa if the course starts in less than 124 days.
Student visa subclasses (types)
As a student, you will enter Australia on one of the following visa classes:
- English Language Intensive Coursesfor Overseas Students (Subclass 570)
The ELICOS visa is for students taking English language courses that lead to a certificate I, II, III or IV, or that do not gain a formal Australian award.
- Primary or secondary school course (Subclass 571)
This visa is for students taking primary, junior secondary, or senior secondary school courses.
The visa also covers students coming for approved secondary school exchange programs.
- Vocational Education & Training (VET) (Subclass 572)
The visa for students taking:
- Certificates I, II, III or IV(except ELICOS)
- VET Diploma
- VET Advanced Diploma
- Vocational Graduate Certificate
- Vocational Graduate Diploma courses
- Higher Education (subclass 573)
The visa for students undertaking a:
- Bachelor Degree
- Associate Degree
- Graduate certificate
- graduate Diploma
- Higher Education Diploma
- Higher Education Advanced Diploma
- Masters by coursework
- Postgraduate Research (subclass 574)
The visa for students doing a Masters by research, or Doctoral Degree.
- Non-award (subclass 575)
This visa applies to students doing non-award foundation studies, or full-time courses/parts of courses that do not result in an Australian award.
- AusAID & Defence (subclass 576)
If your full-time course of any type is being sponsored by AusAID or the Australian Department of Defence, you require this visa.
- Student Guardians
Parents or relatives who are the guardian of a student studying in Australia apply for this visa.
Visa Assessment Levels
Australia receives applications to study from over 190 countries. With this comes immigration risk (ie. a student not leaving the country at the end of the program).
To counter this, there are 5 levels of assessment that are based on an applicant's nationality. The levels come from statistics for each nationality over past years.
Assessment Level 1 is the lowest immigration risk, while Assessment Level 3 is the highest. If an applicant shows higher risk, he or she must provide more evidence to support the visa application. Your lelve may change depending on the type of course you are taking (for example a 6-month ESL program v. a Masters degree).
If your institution is part of the Streamlined Visa Processing system, you will NOT be assigned an assessment level.
What documents do I need?
To see what you need for an application, look at the Visa Application Document Checklists.
How long does it take to get my student visa?
After you receive your 'Confirmation of Enrolment' from the school, the visa process happens quickly.
In June 2013, 75% of visas took 30 days to process, with many of these issued in just 14 days.
Can I apply online?
You can apply online if you are an Assessment Level 1 student, or a citizen of the People's Republic of China, India, Indonesia, or Thailand.
However, you MUST be outside Australia at the time the application is lodged, and also when it is approved.
Note: Once you start the application online, you can save it and continue filling it in at another time.
Your student visa will cost $535 online and takes about 6 weeks to receive.
You can track the progress of your application once you have lodged it. Be sure to keep a record of your Transaction Reference Number (TRN)!
Here is the link to start the online application from outside Australia: First or Further Student Visa
If are attending a university or institution participating in the streamlined student visa processing system, you will not be assigned an Assessment Level. As a result, you have have less requirements when applying for a student visa.
To qualify for a streamlined student visa, you must have a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) from a university participating in the streamlined visa processing system, and be studying for one of the following:
- Bachelor degree
- Masters degree
- Doctoral degree
- Non-award university student exchange program
- Non-award study abroad program
Important: Once you arrive on a streamlined student visa, it is not permitted to change to a 'less expensive' school (unless you have a very good reason). Do not trust any agent or school that tells you to do this. Students who change schools may be targeted by the Department of Immigration, and may have the visa cancelled.
I cannot apply online
If you are not eligible to apply online, you can apply in writing using this form.
Student visa rules
Once you come to Australia as a student, there are some rules you must follow to keep your visa. These include the following:
- you must attend your classes
- you must remain enrolled in your course/program
- if you change to another program, you must apply for a new visa
- keep your school up-to-date on your residential address
- have enough money to support yourself - see the cost of living in Australia
- follow the rules on working conditions if you plan to get a job