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Visas & Working

Applying for a student visa in Australia

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. You must also have received a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) or an electronic CoE (eCoE). This will be sent to you once you have confirmed your offer of a place to study at a university in Australia.

Student visas in Australia are divided into subclasses according to the type of course that 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 (subclass 600) or Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417). These can cost much less than a student visa, currently priced at $135 and $440 respectively. For more information, please visit www.border.gov.au

What documentation will you need?

The documentation needed to support your visa application will depend on your Assessment Level. However, there are some general requirements for all applicants. These include being in good health, having suitable health insurance through Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) and having no outstanding debts to the Commonwealth of Australia.

Other evidence that will usually be required includes:

If you are in Assessment Level 3, 4 or 5 you may also need to provide a letter of acceptance from your institution and an electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) issued by your institution, in order to undergo a pre-visa assessment.

KEEP READING: How to apply for a student visa, bringing dependents with you to Australia and student visa working restrictions 


How to apply for a student visa in Australia

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.border.gov.au to find your nearest office.

Application fees

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$550. This is subject to change. To check the most recent charges, see Form 990i Charges on the department's website.

Dependants

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.

Working

The 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).

Post-study employment

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. Find out more about the available visa types here.

FURTHER READING

Applying to Study in Australia

Student Accommodation in Australia

Arriving in Australia