Australia remains increasingly popular as a study abroad destination, despite Covid-19 setbacks. And for good reason. Currently, the country ranks 38 universities on the QS World University Rankings 2022. These universities, for the most part, are steadily climbing to higher spots on the list, too. With friendly immigration policies, leading to opportunities for post-study work and permanent residency, Australia is understandably attractive to international students. And after more than a year of closed borders, 2022 is finally seeing the country letting international students back in. So, have you made up your mind to head over to the home of kangaroos, the Great Barrier Reef, the vast Outback, and of course Tim Tam? Check out our complete How to Get Your Australian Student Visa Guideline for everything you need to know!
Getting the Australian Student Visa (Subclass 500)
The Student visa (Subclass 500) is the master key to unlock student opportunities in Australia. With this visa, you can:
- Stay in Australia for a maximum of 5 years (the length of your visa depends on the length of your course)
- Enrol in an approved course
- Work, alongside studying, for a maximum of 40 hours every two weeks (you can also work extra hours for specific job sectors)
- Apply in or outside of Australia
- Bring family members (in this case defined as your partner and dependents who are single and under the age of 18) to Australia with you
Without a visa, you can’t enter the country, let alone study, live, and work here. Most international students will require a visa, aside from a few exemptions. So, first things first, let’s check whether you meet the eligibility requirements of the Subclass 500 visa.
Australian Student Visa Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for the Subclass 500 visa, you need to:
- Be older than 6 years of age
- Have accepted an offer to study a full-time CRICOS (Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students) course and hold a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)
- Make welfare arrangements, if you’re still under the age of 18
- Meet English proficiency standards
- Have health insurance coverage
- Be able to financially support your studies and stay in Australia, as well as travel into and out of the country
- Show that you’re a Genuine Temporary Entrant
- Meet Australia’s “Character Requirements”
- Meet Australia’s health requirements
- Provide a signed Australia Values Statement, where you declare that you understand and will adhere to Australian law and respect the Australian way of life
- Prove that you have not faced visa rejection or cancellation of a previous visa application while in Australia
As you can see, that’s a pretty extensive checklist. Don’t feel overwhelmed though – we’re here to break down every step and requirement in our Australian Student visa guideline. Let’s dive right into the application process, shall we?
Your Complete Checklist for the Australian Student Visa
The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection advises beginning your visa application within 6 weeks of the start of your course. Our advice is to begin prepping as early as six months or more beforehand. While 75% of the time, a student visa for Australia can take up to 44 days in processing time, it could also take up to six months. Since you don’t want to take that chance, and there’s a lot to put together, we recommend preparing your visa application as soon as possible. Take a look at the items you’ll need in your Australian student visa guideline’s checklist.
1. Identification Documents
You’re going to need to provide proof of your identity. Primarily, this is a scanned copy of your passport. Do make sure your passport isn’t due to expire soon! Alongside this, migration agents may also ask for certified true copies of your driver’s license, birth certificate, and national identification card, if you have them.
2. Proof of Your Reason for Applying for the Student Visa
To make sure that only genuine students get the visa, immigration agents need to see your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) for all the courses that you’re about to undertake. This is an absolutely critical requirement for the Student visa. Without this, your application isn’t valid and won’t undergo processing. If you’re enrolling for more than one course, or packaged courses, you need to provide all the CoE codes for each course. Otherwise, the length of your visa validity might not account for the courses you left out but still need to complete.
Note that the gap between these courses can’t be longer than two months. The only exception to this condition is if your first course wraps up at the end of the Australian academic year (around November-December) and the second begins at the start of the Australian academic year (late January).
Under the following circumstances, you may present alternate proofs of enrolment instead:
CoE Exemption Condition
Alternate Proof of Enrolment
Undertaking full-time study via an approved Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade scholarship scheme
Letter of support
Studying under the sponsorship of the Australian Department of Defence
Letter of support
A secondary exchange student
Acceptance Advice of Secondary Exchange Student (AASES) form
A student of postgraduate research, who must stay in Australia while their thesis undergoes grading
Letter from the education provider
3. Health Insurance
Both you and family members coming with you on a student visa must have an Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) beginning the day you arrive in Australia. You also need to make sure that you maintain this health insurance coverage throughout your stay. Your education provider might help you arrange for the OSHC from an approved provider. In other cases, you might have to arrange for this yourself, or with the help of an agent. Whatever the case, vital details you have to take note of include the:
- name of your health insurance provider
- beginning and end dates of the policy
- policy number (if you arrange for the OSHC yourself or through an agent)
There is a fee involved in getting your policy. Keep that in mind when planning out the financial side of your application!
Learn More About OSHC Australia
4. Proof of Finances
One of the essential requirements of visa application success is proving that you have the funds to cover your studies, stay, and travels while in Australia. Failure to meet this requirement is often one of the main reasons for visa rejection. So, be sure you have appropriate evidence to show that you’re fully prepared to finance your time as an international student in Australia. This could include:
- Proof that you have enough funds in your bank account to cover your travel expenses, as well as a year’s worth of living expenses and tuition fees. If your family members are coming with you, you need to have enough funds to cover their costs too
- Proof that your parent or spouse is willing to sponsor you, with a yearly income of a minimum of AUD 62,222 for single students. If you’re applying for the visa alongside family, this amount needs to be at least AUD 72,592
- An Acceptance Advice of Secondary Exchange Students (AASES) form – this exclusively applies to secondary exchange students
- A letter of support from either the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or the Department of Defence
5. Proof of English Proficiency
After you apply, Australian immigration might at any point ask you to send in proof of your English language ability. For those applying for the Australian student visa under Covid-19 restrictions, you may get extra time to sit for an English proficiency exam. Take a look at the minimum requirements of English language score bands for accepted tests:
English Language Skill Test
Minimum Score Bands
Cambridge English: Advanced (Certificate in Advanced English)
Occupational English Test
B for each component of the test
You may be exempt from needing to prove your skills in the English language if you are a:
- Passport-holder of and citizen from either the UK, the USA, Canada, New Zealand, or the Republic of Ireland
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or Department of Defence sponsored applicant
- Student in a principal course that is a registered school course
- Secondary exchange student
- Student enrolled in an English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS)
- Student of a course taught in a language other than English
- Postgraduate research student
You may also be exempt from this requirement if you hold a qualification at the Certificate IV or higher level on the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). The qualification must be from a course completed within two years of your current visa application, in Australia, and in English.
6. Genuine Temporary Entrant Requirements
One of the main things immigration agents evaluate through your application is your genuine intention to study in Australia. They want to avoid letting in applicants who want to use the Student visa to get into the country without the intention of completing their studies and returning home. Among other things to verify this, Australian immigration requires you to attach a written statement to your application declaring that you only intend to stay in Australia for the duration of your course. You state that you plan to return home after you’re done with your studies.
Alternatively, you might attach other documents verifying that you have full intentions to return home after you’re done with your course. This could be something like an employment contract, which is evidence that you’re due to leave to work back home after you’re done studying.
Other items the immigration agent may consider include:
- Your travel and immigration history
- Whether or not you’re a minor
- The motives of your parent, legal guardian, or spouse in travelling to Australia
7. Employment History
Proof of your employment history could include items like:
- Payslips or copies of your contract if you are presently or were recently in employment
- Updated CV, breaking down your academic and work history over the past five years
- Copies of academic transcripts, if you are/were studying before applying abroad
Again, if you are sponsored for study by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Defence, or are a secondary exchange student, you’re exempt from this requirement.
8. Additional Documents and Requirements
Here’s a quick overview of other documents and requirements you might need to submit:
- After you apply, you may receive a letter, as well as a notification through your account on the online visa application platform, asking for biometrics. This refers to taking photographs and scanning fingerprints at an authorised centre. You have 14 days to meet the biometrics requirement, so make sure you set an appointment to do so quickly if you receive the request
- Your immigration application account will also inform you if you need a health check. You’ll receive the list of health exams you need to undergo and an identifier known as the Health Assessment Portal (HAP) ID. The exams must be undertaken under authorised panel physicians
- Proof of welfare arrangements if you are under 18 years of age
- Parental consent or consent from legal guardians via Form 1229, if you’re a minor
- Form 956, signed by a migration agent (your application form will let you know if this item is necessary)
- Form 956A – Appointment or withdrawal of an authorised recipient (your application form will let you know if this item is necessary)
- Evidence your dependents between ages 5 and 18 years old are enrolling at an Australian school
- Copy of your CV and your research thesis or project topic, if you’re a postgraduate research student
The Application Process
Once you have all the documents ready to go, the actual process involves creating an ImmiAccount. Here, you will upload all the necessary documents, and pay the visa application fee. The fee starts off at AUD 630. Overall, the sum will be higher if you’re applying in tow with family members, and with the additional costs of health exams, biometrics, police clearance certificates, etc.
Getting the Australian Student Visa During Covid Restrictions
Despite over a year of travel restrictions, Australia has reopened borders welcoming back eligible international students. Fully-vaccinated students who hold the Subclass 500 visa can fly to Australia without needing travel exemptions.
Concluding Thoughts: Australian Student Visa Guideline
There’s no better time than now to start planning for your Australian student visa. The country is finally welcoming back international students after a tough period of travel restrictions. And if studying at one of the great institutions of this country has always been your dream, you don’t want to fall behind. Hopefully, our Australian student visa guide has given you everything you need to kick off the process. Yes, it’s a long checklist to get through. But that’s all the more reason to start early. Meticulously preparing each segment reduces the chances of visa rejection. The better prepared you are, the higher your chances of success.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What’s the student visa processing time for Australia?
It varies. Processing time for 75% of applications for students in the higher education sector is 44 days. For 90% of applications, it could be as long as 6 months.
For postgraduate research students, processing time is around 3 months for 75% of applications. It could also be as high as 6 months for 90% of all applications.
If you’re applying for vocational education or in the training sector, expect a longer processing time. Applications could take between 6 to 10 months to process.
Can I bring my family to Australia on a student visa?
Yes, you can. Do note though that in this case “family” refers to your spouse or partner, and any dependents. Dependents must be unmarried and under the age of 18. You must also declare all your family members at the time of your application, even if they’re not accompanying you. If you don’t, they won’t be able to lodge a student visa application later on.
Who can sponsor you for your student visa in Australia?
Unless you’re sponsoring yourself, your parents, legal guardians, or spouse can sponsor your visa. In this case, we are explicitly referring to who will be financing your travel, studies, and other costs as a student in Australia. Your sponsor, in this case, will be the person whose bank account details you’ll supply for proof of finances, and as transaction proof of visa application payments, tuition fees, etc.
How much bank balance is required for an Australian student visa?
Essentially, you need to show you have enough funds in your bank account to cover your travel, study, and living costs for one year. If your spouse or parents are sponsoring you, they must be able to show a yearly income of a minimum of AUD 62,222. For students with accompanying family members, this amount has to be at least AUD 72,592.
Is there any age limit for the Australian student visa?
You’re eligible to apply for the Australian student visa as long as you’re at least 6 years old. If you’re under the age of 18, you need parental consent and proof of welfare arrangements to apply. If your parent is applying for a student visa, and you are an underage dependent, you can lodge an application too.