visas & working
To qualify for a student visa you must be accepted on a registered course on a full-time basis. To see details of registered courses and institutions please visit the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) website.
Student visas in Australia are divided by subclasses according to the type of course you are studying (i.e. English language, VET, higher education etc.)
Subclasses and Assessment Levels
The subclass you belong to, along with what passport you hold, will affect what Assessment Level your visa application will be subject to. Assessment Levels are an objective measure of immigration risk for each student group or subclass.
There are five Assessment Levels in the student visa programme. They determine student visa requirements according to the immigration risk posed by applicants from a particular country studying in a particular subclass. Assessment Level 1 represents the lowest immigration risk and Assessment Level 5 the highest. The higher your Assessment Level, the more evidence is required to support your claim for the grant of a student visa.
To find out which Assessment Level you are, please click here.
Courses under three months may be taken on a visitor visa or working holiday visa. For more information, please visit www.immi.gov.au/visitors
What documentation will you need?
Other evidence that will usually be required includes:
- Proof of your ability to cover the cost of your tuition fees, airfares and living costs (and those of your family if they will be accompanying you). Living costs for the purpose of student visas are AUS$18,000 per year. The period for which you must have evidence of funds depends on your Assessment Level
- Your level of English language proficiency; the level required will depend on your Assessment Level and may require evidence of an 'accepted test'
- Your situation in your home country
- Evidence of your academic record and qualifications
- Your immigration history
- The residential address you will be staying at whilst in Australia
How to apply
If you are in Assessment Level 1, you can apply online for an electronic student visa. Some students in other Assessment Levels may also be able to apply online - check the website to see if you are eligible. Otherwise, you may be able to apply by post or in person at your local Australian embassy or immigration office. See www.immi.gov.au/contacts/overseas to find your nearest office.
You will normally be required to pay an application fee for your student visa, unless you are sponsored by the Commonwealth of Australia or participating in a formal secondary exchange programme. The charge for student visa applications is currently AUS$535. This is subject to change. To check the most recent charges, see Form 990i Charges on the department's website.
Your family (spouse or children) may be able to join you in Australia on a student visa as part of your 'family unit'. In order to do this, they must be declared on your own visa application and make an individual application. This only applies if you are at Assessment Level 1 or 2 and your course is for a duration of twelve months or more. Otherwise, your family members cannot be granted a student visa.
For full details of the student visa options and the application process, please see the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.
WorkingThe majority of students with student visas are permitted to work and undertake work placements/voluntary work, under certain conditions. However, you may not start working in Australia until your course has started.
How many hours per week can I work?
Most students are permitted to work up to twenty hours per week during term time and an unlimited amount during vacations/holiday periods. Voluntary work does not count as part of the twenty hour limit, in certain circumstances. To find out more, visit the Study in Australia website.
Can I support myself with my earnings?
Whilst part-time work can help with living costs, you should be able to pay your tuition fees and living costs during your study in Australia without working. It is inadvisable to rely on earnings from employment to support yourself during your studies, due to the difficulty of finding and keeping work, and the limits on the amount you can work.
Can I do work placements?
You will be able to take part in work placements that are part of your course. Some unpaid work experience/internships may count towards your limit on the number of hours you can work, except in certain circumstances (please see 'How many hours...' above).
A student visa does not give you any rights to permanent residency; you are obliged to return home after your study finishes. However, the Australian government's General Skilled Migration Programme (GSM) targets young people who have skills, an education and outstanding abilities that will contribute to the Australian economy.
International students with Australian qualifications account for about half of the people assessed under the skilled migrant programme. Some students will be eligible to apply for certain permanent and temporary visas whilst they are in Australia. For more information, please visit the DIAC website.