Student Visa Application Processes Manual-Australia

Student Visas
Basic Requirements & Processes


The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) require a number of criteria to be met to provide a student visa:

  • The student must be accepted into full-time study
  • The student must be a genuine temporary entrant
  • The student must meet health and health insurance requirements
  • The student must be of the appropriate age
  • The student must have a “good” character and not have any debts to the Australian

In addition, if higher risk criteria apply:

  • The student must provide specified evidence to meet financial requirements
  • The student must demonstrate appropriate English language skills
    Furthermore, if the student is under 18 years of age, they must have acceptable arrangements for their

accommodation and welfare.

In this section, you’ll learn how these criteria are defined and applied.

The information in these sections apply to persons whose primary intention in coming to Australia is to study, and intend to study for more than 12 weeks. Students who wish to study a short course may be able to do so on other visa classes (e.g. a tourist visa allows study for up to three months). Applicants can use this Visa Finder

Focus Questions

  • What requirements do students need to meet to obtain a student visa?
  • Why does DHA use a risk-based analysis?
  • What is the relationship between a principal course, and the duration of a visa?
  • How does streamlined evidentiary requirements differ from regular evidentiary requirements?

Criteria Applied to all Student Applications Full Time Study

Only students who have enrolled in full-time study can apply for a student visa, with the exception of Doctoral (PhD) students waiting for their thesis to be marked.

Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE)

The key integrity measure the Department of Immigration and Border Protection makes in granting a student visa is whether the applicant is a genuine temporary entrant. That is, are they coming to Australia for genuine study purposes and have a realistic prospect of returning home once their studies have finished. DHA takes a balanced approach and will weigh up all the factors before making a decision.

Some factors that the department considers as part of the GTE requirement include:

  • the circumstances in the applicant’s home country
  • the applicant’s potential circumstances in Australia
  • the applicant’s immigration history
  • the value of the course to the applicant’s future
  • any other matter relevant to the applicant’s intention to stay temporarily
    Examples of how a student might be considered not to be a Genuine Temporary Entrant are:


GTE Considerations

Circumstances in the applicant’s home country

The applicant’s immigration history

Any other matter that may be relevant


Any matter, such as economic downturn , relevant to the applicant’s intention to stay temporarily

The student has had previous visa applications refused or visas cancelled.

The student cannot explain how an Australian qualification will benefit them in the future.

The applicant’s potential circumstances in Australia

The student has been in Australia for extensive periods of time, either without having successfully completed a qualification, or has moved education providers on numerous occasions.


The value of the course to the applicant’s future

The student is applying for a course that is not related to their career choice or previous qualifications


Good Character

The student must make a declaration on the visa application form that includes but is not limited to the following:

  • they have not been involved in criminal activity, or
  • they have not been previously deported. See more detail here

Health Requirement

The health of overseas students studying in Australia is important and protects the Australian community from public health and safety risks, particularly active tuberculosis.

To meet the health requirement, a student must be free from a disease or condition that is:

  • considered to be a threat to public health or a danger to the Australian community
  • likely to result in significant health care and community service costs to the Australian community
  • likely to require health care and community services that would limit the access of Australian citizens and permanent residents to those services already in short supply.

See details here Health examinations

A student may be required to undergo health examinations as part of the visa application process process, check the Health Examinations information on the DHA website. There are specific requirements for arranging a health examination. An online system known as eMedical processes health examinations results electronically and these are forwarded to DHA for assessment. If your student does require a medical examination outside of Australia, they must contact an Australian panel doctor in their country. A list of doctors is available from Immigration Panel Doctors.

Risk of Tuberculosis (TB)

The following table shows how the risk of Tuberculosis (TB) in different countries impacts on the likelihood of the necessity of a medical examination. DHA may decide to request a health assessment regardless of the risk assessment detailed for TB below.

Country TB Student to stay in Australia less than 6 Student to stay in Australia more than 6

Risk Level months


Low Risk No health examination normally No health examination normally required required

Low Risk Countries (others considered High risk)

Albania; American Samoa; Andorra; Antigua and Barbuda; Argentina; Aruba; Australia; Austria;Bahamas; Bahrain; Barbados; Belgium; Belize; Bermuda; Bonaire; Bouvet Island; Bulgaria;Canada; Cayman Islands; Chile; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Cook Islands; Costa Rica; Croatia; Cuba; Curacao; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Dominica; Egypt; Estonia;Falkland Islands; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; French Polynesia; FYR Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia); Germany; Gibraltar; Greece; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Heard and McDonald Islands; Hungary; Iceland; Iran; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Jamaica; Japan; Jordan; Kosovo; Kuwait; Lebanon; Liechtenstein; Luxembourg; Malta; Mauritius; Mexico; Monaco; Montenegro; Montserrat; Netherlands; Netherlands Antilles; New Caledonia; New Zealand; Niue; Norfolk Island; Norway; Oman; Palestinian Authority; Pitcairn Island; Poland; Portugal; Puerto Rico;Reunion Island; Saint Eustatius & Saba; Saint Helena (Ascension and Tristan da Cunha); Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin (Dutch); Samoa; San Marino; Saudi Arabia; Serbia;

Seychelles; Slovakia; Slovenia; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Spain; Svalbard & Jan Mayen; Sweden; Switzerland; Tokelau; Tonga; Trinidad and Tobago; Tunisia; Turkey; Turks and Caicos Islands; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom (British citizen); United States of America; Uruguay; Vatican City; Virgin Islands (British); Virgin Islands (US); Wallis and Fortuna Islands.

Health Insurance

Adequate health insurance is a mandatory visa condition. DHA requires evidence of Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) to demonstrate that the student is adequately insured. There are some exceptions (for example, students from Norway, Belgium or Sweden who have acceptable health cover from their home country).

Often, the education provider will include the option to pay for health insurance in the enrolment fees and a CoE will indicate that the student has OSHC arranged. Students will need to provide details of their OSHC policy in their visa application. International students have the right to choose their OSHC provider, although their education provider may make specific recommendations to applicants because they have negotiated an arrangement with a particular insurer.

If the cost of health insurance is not included in enrolment fees, the student will need to obtain OSHC insurance and provide OSHC policy details in the application.

A student (and any accompanying family members) must have OSHC for proposed duration of their student visa. e.g. they must have OSHC taken out for the entire period from the date they arrive in Australia on their student visa to the expiry date of their student visa.

High Risk

No health examination normally required

Medical examination required
Chest X-ray required (if over 11years old)

Student Guardian visa (subclass 590) holders can obtain Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC) that provides a similar level of cover.

DHA have further information on their website here and the Department of Health here

No debts to the Australian Government

The student must not owe money to Australia, or have agreed repayment plans in place. A declaration on the application form will normally satisfy this requirement.

Evidentiary Framework and Student Visa Processing Overview

All student visa applications follow a similar process, with students providing information in an online form to DHA which is then assessed in accordance with established guidelines. Experience has demonstrated that in the aggregate, applications from different countries and for different education providers, indicate different rates of student fraud and other visa cancellation events.

The Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF) provides the evidentiary requirements for each student application on the basis of a combination of the rating of the student’s country of citizenship and the rating of the provider with which they will undertake their principal course of study.

These ratings are updated each 6 month period on the basis of:

  • Rate of visa cancellations
  • Rate of visa refusal due to fraud
  • Rate of visa refusal not due to fraud
  • Rate of student visa holder becoming unlawful (overstaying their time in Australia)
  • Rate of student visa holders applying for a Protection visa

Applications with regular evidentiary requirements are required to provide evidence of English proficiency and financial capacity with their applications, while those classed as streamlined are generally able to satisfy the Department of their financial capacity by a declaration and are not generally required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency. However, DHA retains the discretion to seek further evidence where appropriate.

Applicants who provide all requested documentation with their visa application are generally processed quicker.

Note that a student’s nationality is determined by:

  • the nationality that is recorded in the student’s passport at the date of the application;
  • not where the student lives;
  • not where the student applies for the student visa.

Evidentiary Framework and Evidence Levels

The SSVF ‘evidentiary framework’ is based on student immigration outcomes over a period of time. It serves only to guide whether a Student visa applicant is subject to streamlined (S) or regular (R) evidentiary requirements. Ratings are calculated using a weighted average based on the total numbers of international students (applicants and holders of Student visas) that have a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) to study a course from the education provider.

The following weightings and indicators are used to calculate the evidence level of each education provider and country:

Rate of visa cancellations (25% weighting)

The proportion of cases, once a student has been provided a visa which was then cancelled due to:

  • non-genuineness
  • fraud
  • breaches of visa condition 8202 (i.e. maintaining enrolment, attendance and course progress)
  • breaches of work condition 8105 (i.e. cannot work more than 40 hours per fortnight when course is in session)
  • breaches of other visa conditions
    Student visa cancellations where the student personally requests visa cancellation are not included. For

example, a student who has ceased study and returned home may request visa cancellation.

Rate of refusals due to a fraud reason where the applicant lodged overseas (40% weighting)

The proportion of students who were refused a visa at the application stage due to fraud. If a visa is refused because of fraud, this measure will apply regardless of whether or not any other refusal reason exists.

Rate of refusals (excluding fraud) where the applicant lodged overseas (10% weighting)

The proportion of how many students were refused a visa at the application stage due to reasons other than fraud. That is, one of the legal requirements for the grant of the visa was not met and no fraud was detected. For example, not meeting the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE), health or other requirements.

Rate of student visa holders becoming unlawful non-citizens (15% weighting)

The number of students that have overstayed their student visa for more than 28 days. Students who have been unlawful and resolve their immigration status within 28 days are not counted. These figures represent those visa holders who did not contact the Department to arrange a Bridging visa or another visa and overstayed their visa for more than 28 days.

Rate of Subsequent Protection Visa applications (10% weighting)

The proportion of students who applied for a Protection Visa (PV) where the last visa held by them was a Student visa.

Evidence Level Allocation

Evidence level ratings are allocated to each education provider and country as follows:

Below 1.0 One Between 1.0 and 2.70 Two Above 2.70 Three

An education provider is linked to its students by the Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) held at the time the Student visa application was decided. This means that if a Student transfers to another education provider, their Student visa (and any behaviour linked to evidence level ratings) will continue to be linked to the original education provider specified on the CoE. This will continue until the student is granted a further visa.

In cases where there are only a small number of students, statistical calculations of evidence level are unreliable. Such ‘small’ providers (or countries) are those who have less than 50 active students studying on a principal course at any one time during the previous 12 months.

Small providers are given a default rating of Two.

Countries who supply less than 50 students are given a default rating of Three.

These ratings are updated each 6 months from the historical data generated during the previous 12 month period. DHA do not publicise the actual evidence level rating of any country or provider, it is expressed through the interaction of the two ratings as described in the model below.

Evidence Level Model

The following table provides an overview of the students that receive streamlined evidentiary requirements under the SSVF.

Eligibility for streamlined evidentiary requirements is determined on the combined evidence level rating of the student’s country and citizenship and intended education provider.

In the table S refers to streamlined evidentiary requirements while R refers to regular evidentiary requirements. Where regular evidentiary requirements apply the student will generally be required to provide evidence of their financial and English language capacity with their visa application.

(Weighted average of all indicators)

Evidence level rating

  • The majority of students (more than 80%) will be eligible for streamlined arrangements.
  • DHA reserve the right to ask any student who might be eligible for streamlined arrangements to

demonstrate their ability to meet the regular criteria.

Streamlined and Regular Evidentiary Requirements Streamlined Evidentiary Requirements

Under the SSVF, students associated with the lowest evidentiary rating will have streamlined evidentiary requirements and generally these students will be able to satisfy the Department of their financial capacity by providing a declaration with their visa application and their English proficiency by a Confirmation of Enrolment from their education provider.

The Genuine Temporary Entry (GTE) requirement remains the key measure that determines if a student is eligible for the grant of the visa.

While evidence of finance and English is not required with the visa application, DHA retains the right to ask for financial evidence from any student if there is specific intelligence that suggests there may be a problem with the financial capacity of the student.

Regular Evidentiary Requirements

Regular applications require a student to present two extra pieces of evidence with their visa application: financial capacity and English language proficiency evidence.

Evidence of Financial Capacity

Genuine Access Requirement

All funds that can be accepted as evidence must be clearly available to the student in order to pay for their studies and living costs. The factors that may be considered include:

  • The relationship of the sponsor (e.g. a parent or guardian’s funds are appropriate, but “family friends” bank accounts are not normally acceptable)
  • Income, assets and employment history of sponsor/parent 13
  • Previous visa history of the student (e.g. have they had difficulties in the past)
    Students cannot rely on their ability to earn money through work in Australia as evidence of having

The following are sources of evidence of financial capacity:

  • money deposit with a financial institution (bank)
  • loan with a financial institution (bank)
  • government loans
  • scholarship

There are three options to provide financial evidence.

Option 1:

12 months living expenses

Show evidence of funds for travel costs plus 12 months of living and tuition costs. One year’s living expenses are designated as:

  • Student: AUD$20,290
  • Spouse or de-facto partner: AUD$7,100
  • Any dependant children: AUD$3,040

If a student has dependants, they need to show access to relevant funds for the accompanying family unit (spouse and/or children).

Each school-age child requires AUD $8,000 for each year of schooling they will require (unless they have been provided with an exemption from a Government High School).

Option 2:

Annual income of parents

Show evidence that the annual income of the student’s parents (combined if necessary) or spouse exceeds AUD$60,000 per year. If one or more members of the applicant’s family unit are seeking to satisfy the secondary criteria for the Student visa, they will need to demonstrate an income of AUD$70,000 per year.

This information must be provided on Government documentation (such as a tax return) which less than 12 months old.

Option 3:

Secondary exchange students only

Show a completed Acceptable Advice for Secondary Exchange Student (AASES) Form

English Language Proficiency Requirements

DHA have designated certain English proficiency tests as acceptable and prescribe minimum standards.

Acceptable Test Scores

Test Type

Minimum Score

Minimum Score where combined with 10 weeks ELICOS

Minimum Score where combined with 20 weeks ELICOS

International English Language Testing System (IELTS test)




Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Paper-Based test




TOEFL internet-based test (also known as TOEFL iBT)




Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test (also known as Certificate in Advanced English)




Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE)




Occupational English Test (OET) English test: Minimum test score:



There are exemptions for this requirement to present an English test score for the following students:

1.ELICOS, Schools, Secondary Exchange and Postgraduate Research Students

2.Students who have successfully completed, in the two years prior to student visa application, the requirements for a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education, in a course that was conducted in Australia in English; or

Students who have successfully completed, in the two years prior to student visa application, a substantial component of a course leading to a qualification from the Australian Qualifications Framework at the Certificate IV level or higher that was conducted in Australia in English while the applicant was holding a student visa.

3.Foreign Affairs and Defence sponsored students
4.Students who are citizens of, and hold a valid passport issued by:

  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • Ireland

5.Study of more than five years in English in one or more of the following countries:

  • Australia
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • South Africa

Packaging Arrangements and Visa Duration

Packaging Offer Letters and The Principal Course

In many cases, a student comes to Australia with the intention of studying more than one course. Where the student intends to package courses to combine their preliminary course of study with their main course of study, the education provider evidentiary requirements rating applied to the Student visa application would correspond to the student’s main course of study (or principal course).

The principal course is the course that the student intends to undertake in Australia at the highest level. For example, a student may intend to study 3 courses in this order from lowest to highest level:

  1. An ELICOS program, then
  2. A foundation program, then
  3. An undergraduate program (the principal course).

If that student has a package of courses that provides clear course progression to the undergraduate degree, then the rating that corresponds to the provider of the undergraduate program will be applied in the visa process.

DHA will only recognise a package of offers if the student has a CoE (for applications made outside Australia) or a letter of offer (for applications made in Australia, noting a CoE will be needed before the visa can be granted) of a place into all the courses, including the highest-level course from the education institution(s). It is not enough that the student intends to continue to study at a higher level than the first course they undertake but does not have a CoE for the higher level course.

A letter of offer for a course can be conditional on the student successfully completing a previous course. In the above example, the student may have to successfully complete the foundation program before continuing to the undergraduate program.

A package of courses must also increase in level across the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). For example, a student cannot study a course of a lower level after one of a higher level.

Visa Duration

The duration of a student visa generally depends on the dates of study detailed in the CoEs that are submitted with the application. In general, the visa granted will cover the full length of every CoE that is in a sequence or package, if the evidences provided satisfy the visa requirements. The following table shows the general guidelines used:

Duration of Course Duration of Visa

10 months or less

Student Visa normally granted for one month longer than the end date of the principal course

Longer than 10 months

Student Visa normally granted for two months longer than the end date of the principal course, if it ends before November.

If the course ends in November or December, the visa will normally cease on 15 March of the following year (about three months after)

Student Visas Application Processes

Specific Requirements and Integrity Concerns


This section considers the processes and online tools available to help students and their agents successfully submit visa applications.

It outlines the specific requirements and criteria that exist for primary and secondary students, and the welfare arrangements that relate to visa conditions.

Finally, it provides some examples of the type of concerns that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection identify when assessing student visa applications.

Focus Questions

  • How do I submit a student’s application for a visa?
  • What living arrangements are permissible for a student who is under 18?
  • Are there any special requirements applied to school-age students?
  • What ways do some student applications fail due to concerns with integrity?

The Student Visa Application Process

Check Required Evidence using the Document Checklist Tool

This tool provides a guide as to the documents that a student should provide with their student visa application. The student (or agent) enters both the student’s country of citizenship and the education provider they will be studying their principal program with. The evidence requirements will be displayed.

The tool will not identify whether an application is streamlined or regular, it will provide guidance as to what documents need to be provided with the application, noting that DHA can request additional information where necessary.

See the link here
Lodging An Application via immiAccount

All agents should create an online account “immiAccount” which will enable them to lodge applications on behalf of their students through the online form 157A (Internet). Link to immiAccount

Log-in to immiAccount and an agent can submit an application for a student visa as follows: Step 1: Select My applications tab
Step 2: Click New Application
The New application page displays.

Step 3: From the applicable Application group click the icon to display the types of applications available.

Step 4: From the Application type list, select the applicable application type.
Step 5: Click Expand all to display all applications in all the Application groups. Click Collapse all to

close all Application groups.
The Application for a Student Visa Terms and Conditions window displays for the visa you have

To read the terms and conditions of the application, follow the View Terms and Conditions link.

Step 6: Select the I have read and agree to the terms and conditions checkbox. to confirm you have read and agree to the Terms and Conditions

Step 7: Click Next.
A list of questions relating to the application displays.
Answer each question, then click Next.
Repeat this process until all the questions have been answered.

Once you have completed and reviewed your application, the Application for a Student Visa page displays.

Your application will not be processed until you pay the application fee. You can save the application and come back later with payment details.

Step 8: If you choose this option, click Go to my account.
You have completed the process as far as you can at this stage and do not need to complete the rest of the steps in this guide.

Alternatively, you can make the visa application payment now. If you choose this option, proceed to the next step in this guide.

Step 9: Click Submit Now.
The Make a payment window displays.

Step 10: Enter the payment details then click Submit.
The Confirm payment by debit/credit card dialog box displays.
Step 11: Click Submit
The payment is confirmed and the Debit/credit card payment confirmation page displays.
Step 12: Click Next
The window displays a summary of the application.
Step 13. Click Go to my account
The My applications summary window displays. The status of the application has been updated.

Points to Note
1.International students outside Australia must be enrolled in a registered course of study and provide a

Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) when they lodge their Student visa application.

  1. Students in Australia may still apply with a letter of offer or a CoE but must obtain a CoE to be granted the visa.
  2. Students must apply using the online form 157A (internet). Where an applicant encounters a technical difficulty, they will be able to lodge an online technical support form.
  3. All students complete the same form. Students are asked to enter information about their financial and English proficiency regardless of whether they have streamlined or regular evidentiary requirements. While some questions are non-mandatory for streamlined students, it may make the application process quicker in some cases for the student to provide any English proficiency information to support the student’s GTE assessment.

Requirements for Students Under 18

Under Australian law, an individual under 18 is not yet an adult. So certain requirements apply to these students. The student must provide evidence of adequate welfare arrangements for the duration of their visa, or until they turn 18, to make a valid visa application.

The student must show they have adequate welfare arrangements in one of the following ways:

  • live in Australia with a parent or legal custodian (applicant must complete Form 157N to nominate a student guardian).
  • live in Australia with a relative who is a Student Guardian visa (subclass 590) holder (guardian must apply for this visa and complete Form 157N) or holding other valid visa in Australia. The relative must be over 21 years of age with good character and be nominated by the parents or custodians.
  • the student’s education provider will provide for their general welfare and accommodation (provider will issue a Confirmation of Adequate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) letter.
  • A secondary exchange student must provide their AASES form.

If the student will be living with a relative (but not the parent), the nominated relative must:

  • be a brother, sister, step-brother, step-sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, step- grandparent, step-aunt, step-uncle, step-niece or step-nephew
  • be aged over 21 years
  • have the right to remain in Australia until the visa expires or the student turns 18 years-of-age

(whichever happens first)

  • and have a police clearance check.

The student’s parents or custodian need to prove that the nominated relative meets these criteria.

The student’s parent or custodian must complete Form 1229 – Consent to grant an Australian visa to a child under the age of 18 years.

Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW)

If a younger student is not living with a parent or suitable relative, the education provider must sign a letter called the Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW): approving the student’s general welfare and accommodation arrangements before the student visa can be issued. The provider must nominate two dates:

  1. when the provider has elected to begin taking responsibility for the student’s welfare, and
  2. when the provider will cease to take responsibility for approving the welfare arrangements for that student.

If a student’s welfare arrangements are approved by education provider students must not travel to Australia until the welfare arrangements are due to commence. Dates are nominated by the provider not the student.

Specific Requirements in Particular Cases

School Sector

Age Requirements

There are age limits set for international students intending to study in the School sector. These are the age requirements that apply:

  • A primary school student must be at least 6 years of age. Secondary students must:
  • be less than 17 years old when commencing the Academic year Grade 9.
  • be less than 18 years old when commencing the Academic year Grade 10
  • be less than 19 years old when commencing the Academic year Grade 11
  • be less than 20 years old when commencing the Academic year Grade 12

Visa Grant period

A primary school student will only be granted a visa for a maximum period of two years. This requirement will assist to manage the welfare and immigration risks association with younger students. Note: If a student enrols mid-year, the visa will be granted for a maximum of two and a half years.

Further, a student intending to study in Australia from primary school and through secondary school will not meet the GTE requirement. This is because integration into their home country will be unlikely after completing their formative education in Australia.

This does not prevent a student from applying for a further visa for two years after completing two years of primary school, however GTE will be closely assessed.

Secondary exchange students

Secondary exchange students have an option of providing a completed AASES form as meeting their financial evidence and welfare arrangements requirement.

School students are exempt from providing evidence of English language proficiency.

Other Matters

ELICOS Courses

There is no limitation on the maximum duration of ELICOS study that may be undertaken. Genuine students will be able to undertake as much ELICOS study as either a standalone course or prior to their principal course, as required.

Family Members

Students have to declare all family members on their visa application, if not, these family members won’t be able to travel to Australia to visit at a later stage.

DHA require the financial details for the subsequent entry of family members. Not only for the person applying for the visa, but also including sufficient funds to cover their whole family unit in Australia. E.g. If my wife is on a student visa in Australia and I apply to join her, DHA will look at the combined financial capacity for both my wife and my living expenses and also her course fees as well.

Guardian Visas (Subclass 590)

The Student Guardian visa (Subcless 590) is for foreign nationals applying to stay in Australia as the guardian of an under 18 student.The student must not remain in Australia when their guardian is not in Australia unless there is an alternative welfare arrangement in place. In some special circumstances, guardian visas can be obtained to look after students who are over 18 years old.

All applicants for a student guardian visa must have sufficient funds to support themselves, the nominating student(s) and any secondary applicants for the duration of their intended stay in Australia.

Under the SSVF, the single immigration risk framework will not apply to student guardian visa applicants. Rather, all guardians must provide evidence of their financial capacity with their visa application.

Evidence of financial capacity can be provided in either of the following forms:

  • Evidence of annual income of $70,000 or more; or
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to cover travel costs, and the first 12 months living costs

for themselves and each dependent child included in the application.

Subsequent applications by family members of guardians will not be accepted. Guardians wishing to bring additional family members under six years of age to Australia must apply for a new student guardian visa for themselves and these students.

Examples of Integrity Concerns for DHA (Department of Home Affairs)

The examples below demonstrate the concerns that have been identified in some circumstances when processing student visas.

  1. English language skills

A visa applicant, who did not have the English language skills to meet the visa requirements, arranged for an impostor to sit the English language test on their behalf. DHA identified this fraud through (a) a facial comparison of the photo on the test results with another photo of the applicant; (b) an interview with the applicant which indicated a low level of English proficiency and (c) verification of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score online. While DHA has processes in place to detect and take action against English test fraud, education providers normally check off test results using the online verification tools available from the test providers.

  1. Genuine student/temporary entrant

A DHA case officer had to consider a student visa application concerning an applicant from a country with high unemployment, who had strong family ties to Australia and who had not studied for a significant period of time. The case officer requested an interview with the applicant to obtain further information. At the interview, the applicant was unable to explain why he had chosen his proposed course and provider and how the course would benefit him. Given the applicant’s low employment prospects in his country of origin, strong ties to Australia and the applicant’s inability to provide basic information regarding his proposed course of study, the application was refused.

  1. Family background and financial support

A DHA case officer received an application in which the student’s parents claimed to be in high-paying jobs in a reputable industry. The case officer requested an integrity check on the application as these claims were uncommon in the region from which the visa applicant came. The officer was able to identify that the student’s parents did not have sufficient funds to contribute towards the student’s expenses. The application was refused as the case officer was not satisfied the applicant had sufficient funds to support himself in his studies onshore and, therefore, was not planning to come to Australia with the genuine intention to study.

  1. Document fraud

An overseas post identified an offshore website which claimed to be selling high quality forgeries of academic transcripts for use in migration applications. In these cases, DHA officers are briefed on the basic characteristics of the forged documents and arrangements are put in place to verify qualifications with the issuing education providers.

Student Visa Conditions and Student Responsibilities Overview

When students come to Australia, they need to understand the conditions and obligations of their Student visa.

To advise students correctly, you need to be aware of:

  • The conditions that a Student visa may contain;
  • The responsibilities that students have to comply with whilst they are studying;
  • Other related issues such as working, travelling and staying in Australia after a course finishes.

You should study these lessons along with the information from DHA regarding Studying in Australia here.

Focus Questions

  • What do visa conditions mean?
  • What are the requirements of Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)?
  • How do the roles and responsibilities of education agents in Australia differ from those for Registered Migration Agents (RMAs)?

Visa Conditions

When a student is issued with a student visa, there are conditions attached to it. These visa
conditions are often expressed as numbers.
NOTE: Australian authorities do not require students to have a visa label in their passport. VEVO is a free online facility that allows Australian visa holders, employers, education providers, financial institutions and government agencies to check the visa details including conditions and entitlements of a visa holder. VEVO requires a registration and login. To check/verify the status of a student visa and its conditions, go to the VEVO website.

It is essential that every agent informs their students of the need to comply with their visa conditions. If a student does not comply, their visa may be cancelled and they may need to return home. There is also a three year ban (exclusion period) on re-entry to Australia if a visa is cancelled for breaching visa conditions.

The following table explains visa conditions that are relevant to most students, there are other visa conditions that may apply to the primary visa holder or their family members. This information will be included in the visa grant letter and also in VEVO.

Condition Explanation

8501 The student must maintain adequate health insurance during the time they are in Australia.


The student must maintain enrolment in a full-time registered course that provides a qualification at the same or higher level than the course which the visa was granted to, and satisfy their provider’s requirements for attendance and course progress.



The student’s must continue to satisfy the requirements for the grant of the student visa. For example, a student must continue to have sufficient financial funds to support their study and stay in Australia.



8534 8535

The student visa holder must maintain adequate arrangements for the education of any school-age dependant who is in Australia for more than 3 months.

The student must keep the education institution informed of their current address in Australia. They have 7 days to notify them of any changes.

The student will not be eligible to lodge a new visa application in Australia and must return to their home country first, unless exceptional circumstances apply.

The student will not be eligible to lodge a new visa application in Australia and must return to their home country, unless the applicant gives evidence, in writing, that the


If the student is under 18, he or she must maintain welfare arrangements with either a parent, close relative or legal custodian or if welfare is approved through the education provider the education provider must approve arrangements including when arrangements change.



The student cannot work more than 40 hours per fortnight when their course is in session (other than work which has been registered as a part of the course). No work limits apply during recognised periods of vacation offered by the education provider. No work limits apply for Postgraduate Research students (subclass 574) once their course has commenced.


Commonwealth or the government of the foreign country, as the case requires, does not oppose the applicant undertaking a further course of study.

The student’s family member, who was included in the primary applicant’s (i.e. student visa holder) application and was granted a visa, can work up to 40 hours per fortnight.

Meeting Student Visa Conditions


A student must attend at least 80% of their scheduled lessons, unless they are enrolled in a higher education (i.e. University) course. If this does not happen, then:

  • The education provider will have documented policies and procedures stating whether they will consider compassionate and compelling circumstances;
  • The provider must issue the student a written notification of their intention to report the student to DHA. The letter must also inform the student they have 20 working days within which to access the provider’s complaints and appeals process.

Once this timeframe has lapsed or the appeals process has been finalised and found in favour of the provider; the provider reports the breach of the student visa condition using PRISMS.

The student will then receive a notice informing them that they must attend at an Immigration office within 28 days. Should they not do this, their visa may be cancelled.

Academic performance

A student must achieve satisfactory academic results. However, often an institution cannot immediately exclude the student for failure, and so the student continues on their student visa. In this situation the students needs to follow the relevant appeal process. If the appeal is unsuccessful, then:

  • The education provider must have documented policies and procedures for monitoring course progress and determining when a student has failed to make satisfactory course progress;
  • The provider must issue the student a written notification of their intention to report the student to DHA. The letter must also inform the student they have 20 working days within which to access the provider’s complaints and appeals process.

Once this timeframe has lapsed or the appeals process has been finalised and found in favour of the provider; the provider reports the visa breach using PRISMS.

Current address

The student must keep the education provider informed of their current address in Australia. This is because all formal notices are sent to this address. If the address changes, the student must inform the education provider within 7 days.

An under 18 student must have the approval of their education provider to move to another address if they are not living with a parent, guardian or relative.

Changing courses and institutions

Changing Course

If a student wants to stay at the same institution but wants to change courses with the same AQF level they will not require a new student visa.

If the new course is longer than the original course, the student should apply for a further student visa before their visa expires. If a student wishes to undertake a shorter course than that for which the visa was granted, when they have completed the shorter course they must, within 28 days, either depart Australia or, if they wish to enrol in a further course of study, notify DHA and apply for a new student visa if it is required.

A student must remain enrolled in a course at the same or higher AQF level for which their visa has been granted (unless changing from AQF 10 to AQF 9). If the student wishes to change to a lower level program, they should apply for a new student visa. Otherwise, a student is in breach of their visa conditions and may liable for visa cancellation, or the refusal of a subsequent application. DHA place a particular focus on;

  • Students who change their course very soon after arrival in Australia
  • Large changes in level e.g. Bachelor courses to Cert III
  • Change to very different course types

Where students are studying in Non-AQF courses (i.e. Foundation programs, ELICOS) and they wish to change to an AQF course, this would be acceptable. In contrast, the reverse is not be normally allowed, e.g. changing from an undergraduate program to a stand alone ELICOS program.

Student breaches do not involve automatic cancellations of visas, but any breaches of visa conditions do risk visa cancellation.

Changing Institution

If a student has not completed six months of their principal course and wants to change education provider, Standard 7 of the ESOS National Code sets out the circumstances in which this will be possible. Unless special circumstances apply, they are required to have the permission of the existing education provider (through a letter of release) in order to transfer to another education provider.

The education provider must assess a request to transfer a student and all education providers have documented procedures on their transfer policy. Agents should make sure they understand their education provider’s transfer policy, and the written agreement with the student, before attempting to enrol a student with a new education provider.

If an education provider does not give permission to transfer to another education provider and the student is not satisfied with the outcome of the process, they should first access the internal appeal process with the education provider. If still not satisfied, they can appeal the education provider’s decision at an external complaints handling body, such as the State or Territory Ombudsman or the Overseas Student Ombudsman.

If the student has completed six months of the principal course, no permission from the current institution is required.

In cases where students have been granted a student visa based on streamlined evidentiary requirements and they change to a provider that may have otherwise required regular
evidentiary requirements, DHA may request evidence of financial capacity and English proficiency from the student.


Students can enter and leave Australia as often as necessary while they have a current student visa. Students must check that their passport will not expire while they are outside of Australia.

If they obtain a new passport after they have already got a student visa, they must inform DHA of the new passport details before they travel overseas.

If an under 18 student has their welfare arrangements approved by their education provider, they will not be able to travel to Australia until the date their provider nominated as the start date for the approved arrangements.

Duration of visa
The visa has an expiry date.

In the case of a student who is under the age of 18 whose welfare arrangements are being approved by their education provider, the expiry date of the visa will be in accordance with the end of the students approved welfare arrangements as indicated on the students CAAW.

An expired visa

If a student’s visa expires and they are still in Australia without having any other visas, they become “unlawful” and should contact DHA immediately.

If they do not contact DHA within 28 days after the expiry date, they will not be eligible for the grant of most types of visas, including a further Student visa in Australia and may then be subject to a risk factor called an ‘Exclusion Period’.

An exclusion period prevents a person from being granted certain visas, including student visas, for a period of three years after last departing Australia unless certain circumstances apply.

A cancelled visa

Similar to an expired visa, if a student’s visa is cancelled in Australia, they will not be eligible for the grant of most types of visas, including a further Student visa in Australia and may then be subject to an ‘Exclusion Period’.

Work rights for Students

A Stars N Beyond representative needs to inform their students that:

  • They cannot expect to meet their tuition fees from the work they undertake in Australia; There is no guarantee that suitable work will be available;
  • Working may help them financially, but it is unlikely to provide substantial funds.
  • Working in Australia gives them the same rights and protections in the workplace as any

Australian citizen.

Student Visa Holder

Student visas are granted with permission to work. As a result, student visa holders (and their family members travelling with them) do not need to apply for permission to work separately once they arrive in Australia.

A person on a student visa permits the student to work 40 hours per fortnight while their course is in session and unlimited hours while their course is not in session.

A student’s course is considered to be ‘in session’:

  • for the duration of the advertised semesters (including periods when exams are being held);
  • if the studies have been completed but the Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) is still in effect, and
  • if a student is undertaking another course during a break from their main course and the points will be credited towards their main course.

Note: The student cannot undertake work until they have commenced their course in Australia. DHA considers work to also include some volunteer work or unpaid work. If a student is doing voluntary, unpaid work, it is not included in the limit of 40 hours per fortnight if it:

  • is of benefit to the community
  • is for a non-profit organisation
  • would not otherwise be undertaken in return for wages by an Australian resident (that is, it is a designated volunteer position), and
  • is genuinely voluntary (that is, no remuneration, either in cash or kind is received, – board and lodging acceptable).

These conditions do not apply to work that is required as part of a student’s course. The educational institution will advise a student if this is the case.

Dependant of the student holder

A dependant of a student visa holder is subject to condition 8104 which permits the holder to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight once the student (main applicant) has commenced their course. If the student’s course of study is a course for the award of a masters or doctorate degree that is registered on CRICOS, a dependant may work unlimited hours.

Helping students understand their rights at work

The Australian Government is committed to helping protect international students during their time in Australia, including in workplaces. To make sure that international students are treated fairly at work, including being paid the right amount and on time, students need to know what rights they have in Australian workplaces.

A toolkit is available for education agents with tools and resources to help students have a positive experience in Australia

Visas Following Study Overview

A student may wish to remain in Australia to work after their course has finished. A student visa entitles a person to come to Australia on a temporary basis for a specified period to undertake study at an Australian educational institution. While many overseas students make a decision to apply for permanent residence upon completing their studies, this is an entirely separate process and there is no guarantee that, on the basis of having held a student visa, a person will meet the requirements to be granted permanent residence.

There is the opportunity for graduating students who meet particular criteria to stay in Australia and work temporarily. The information that follows is a summary and you should refer to the DHA website for further detail.

Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485)

In order to remain in Australia after studies, a student can obtain a Temporary Graduate visa. This visa has two streams: the Graduate Work stream and the Post-Study Work stream.

The Graduate Work stream is the same as the previous Skilled Graduate visa (subclass 485). The Post- Study Work stream offers extended options for working in Australia to eligible graduates of a higher education degree. Under this stream, successful applicants are granted a visa of two, three or four years duration, depending on the highest educational qualification they have obtained.

Australian study requirement

All subclass 485 visa applicants must meet the Australian study requirement in the six months immediately prior to making their application, regardless of the stream that they are assessed under.

Students must have:

  • attained either a single qualification requiring at least two academic years study or multiple qualifications resulting in a total period of at least two academic years study;
  • undertaken this study in no less than 16 months;
  • lodged their application within six months of completing their course (when they received their

results not the Graduation ceremony).

To meet this requirement, the course/courses must also:

  • be on CRICOS
  • have been successfully completed
  • have resulted in an eligible qualification
  • have had all instruction in English
  • have been completed while physically in Australia
  • have been completed while holding a visa allowing study in Australia be counted only once towards the Australian study requirement.
  • not be an English language proficiency course or enabling program.

Two academic years study is defined as 92 weeks of study in a course or courses registered by CRICOS. CRICOS defines a number of weeks for each course. Students may take longer to complete their course, but will only be credited with the number of weeks that CRICOS determines as a standard duration. Only study that is successfully completed counts towards the two academic years. Students may meet the two year academic study requirement when completing a course that is longer than two years.

Credits for prior learning may reduce the amount of study undertaken. Credit granted on the basis of study undertaken in Australia in a course registered with CRICOS may contribute towards meeting the Australian study requirement, but only once.

There is further information on the DHA website Graduate work stream

Relevant to international students with an eligible qualification who graduate with skills and qualifications that relate to an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL). A visa in this stream is granted for 18 months.

Eligible qualifications can be a degree, diploma or trade qualification and the qualifications must be closely related to the student’s nominated skilled occupation. This means the subject matter and the skills gained from the qualifications can be applied at the level achieved in the nominated skilled occupation.

Example: Acceptable combinations of study and nominated occupations include:

  • an applicant who nominates ‘Physiotherapist’ as their skilled occupation and completes a degree in physiotherapy in Australia
  • an applicant who nominates ‘Air-conditioning and Mechanical Services Plumber’ as their skilled occupation who has completed a Certificate III in Plumbing and a Diploma of Plumbing and Services in Australia

Example: A combination of study and nominated occupation that would not be acceptable:

  • An applicant’s nominated occupation is Registered Nurse but they completed a Bachelor of Commerce.

Note that the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) changes regularly and occupations that may have been listed when a student commenced their course, may no longer be on the list when they graduate.

Post-study work stream

For international students with an eligible qualification. A visa in this stream is granted for 2-4 years. Eligible qualifications:

  • Bachelor degree (2 years work rights)
  • Bachelor (honours) degree (2 years work rights)
  • Masters by coursework degree (2 years work rights)
  • Masters (extended) degree (2 years work rights)
  • Masters by research degree (3 years work rights)
  • Doctoral degree. (4 years work rights)

Note: Study resulting in a diploma level qualification or trade qualification is NOT eligible.

All courses must have been undertaken at an Australian university or education provider accredited to offer degree level programs.

Migrate to Australia under the General Skilled Migration (GSM)

It is important to note that student visas are aimed at achieving an educational outcome. General Skilled Migration (GSM) on the other hand is predominantly driven by the labour market needs of Australia.

The criteria for grant of GSM visas can change in response to the changing economic circumstances of Australia. All applicants seeking to be granted a permanent GSM visa must meet the relevant criteria set out in the Migration legislation, regardless of whether or not they have previously been in Australia. It is important for student visa holders to note that any changes to the criteria for the grant of a GSM visa would not affect their Student visa conditions.

Note: If you are an agent working in Australia, you must be a Registered Migration Agent (RMA) to provide immigration advice.