On 1 July 2016, Schedule 4 of the Migration Legislation Amendment (2016 Measures No. 1) Regulation 2016 (F2016L00523) commenced. This simplified the student visa framework from eight visa subclasses to two, the Subclass 500 (Student) and Subclass 590 (Student Guardian) visas. Former Subclasses 570, 571, 572, 573, 574, 575, 576 and 580 have been repealed from 01 July 2016
From 1 July 2016, applicants will only be able to apply for the Subclass 500 (Student) or Subclass 590 (Student Guardian) visas in order to study in Australia or accompany a person studying in Australia. Overseas students who wish to study in Australia may apply for the Subclass 500 (Student) visa, regardless of which education sector they are enrolled in.
Visas granted before 1 July 2016 remain in effect until the date of expiry specified on the visa.
There are four key changes as follows:
- repeal of Student visa subclasses 570, 571, 572, 573, 574, 575, 576 and 580
- creation of a new Student visa subclasses 500 and 590
- financial capacity requirements and
- English language proficiency requirements.
Online application: All students are required to make (lodge) their applications online.
Country risk factors: The combined immigration risk outcomes of the student’s education provider and country of citizenship are used to guide the level of financial and English language evidence that a student needs to provide with their visa application. Students associated with lower (that is, less) immigration risk outcomes are generally able to meet financial capacity requirements via declaration and English language proficiency requirements by satisfying their education provider – referred to as streamlined evidentiary requirements. Students associated with higher (that is, greater) immigration risk outcomes are required to provide additional documentary evidence of their financial and English language capacity with their visa application – referred to as regular evidentiary requirements. Country and provider immigration risk ratings are expected to be updated approximately every six months with updates intended to take place at the end of March and September each year, commencing from March 2017.
Enrolment: With limited exceptions, the students must be enrolled in a course of study that is registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and courses for Overseas for Overseas Students (CRICOS). If they are applying from outside Australia, they must include a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) for each intended course of study with their visa application. A letter of offer from their education provider will not be accepted. If they are in Australia, they can apply with a letter of offer or a CoE but they must obtain a CoE to be granted the visa.
Genuine temporary entrant (GTE): A GTE is a student visa applicant whose circumstances support a genuine intention to enter and remain in Australia temporarily, notwithstanding the potential for this intention to change over time to an intention to remain in Australia for an extended period or permanently. Students must satisfy the decision maker that they genuinely intend a temporary stay in Australia to study.
Requirement to provide evidence of English language proficiency: If required, applicants seeking to meet the primary criteria for grant of a student visa must provide evidence of the English skills such as IELTS, TOELF, Cambridge English, Pearson Test of English or occupational English test results with specified score.
Financial capacity: All Student visa applicants must have genuine access to sufficient funds to cover costs and expenses for themselves and any accompanying family applicants for the duration of the intended stay in Australia. If required, the applicant must provide additional evidence of their financial capacity as specified. Students must show that they have access to funds that is genuinely available to them, to pay for your course fees, and travel and living costs for them and their accompanying family members while they are in Australia.
Health insurance: A student visa applicant must provide evidence of adequate arrangements in Australia for health insurance during their period of intended stay in Australia.
Students under 18 years of age: If the students are under 18 years of age, they need to have welfare arrangements in place while they are in Australia.
Health and character requirements: Students must show that they are of good health and character.
Family members: The students family members can make a combined student visa application with the student. However, they must have funds to support themselves while in Australia.
English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS): Student visa applicants can apply to study in ELICOS in Australia. If they are intending to study standalone ELICOS for more than 12 months, they should provide lots of information with their application showing how you meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement. There is flexibility to extend the length of ELICOS where it is needed. This will be determined on a case by case basis.
School students: Students can apply for a student visa to study at primary or secondary school in Australia, regardless of their country of citizenship.The maximum period for a Student visa in the school sector is five years with the exception of primary school aged students where a maximum of two years will apply.
Student Guardian Visa (Subclass 590) - The applicants must:
be a parent or person who has custody of the student, or a relative who is 21 years or older and has been nominated in writing by a parent or someone who has custody of the student
not bring family members younger than 6 years of age, except under certain circumstances
be able to provide accommodation, general welfare and other support to the student unless you are applying for this visa with the support of the government your home country.