Step-by-step guide to visa and entry requirements

This section includes information on how to apply for a student visa and what Australia's entry requirements are.

Choosing to study with Australia is an exciting step into a bright future. Before you can take this step, you need to finalise some important details. One of the most important things you’ll need is a student visa, specifically the Student visa (subclass 500).

But what do you need to lodge a successful application? Below is a step-by-step guide to academic entry and visa requirements.

Academic Entry Requirements

Academic requirements (including English language level) will vary depending on the course you want to study. You can explore all available courses via the Study Australia Course Search tool at our homepage.

Please read the course entry requirements on each education provider’s website carefully and contact the provider directly if you need any further information. 

General guidance  

  • English language courses: See 'Proof of English Proficiency' below for more details.
  • Schools: Entry requirements vary between schools, and sometimes by state and territory.
  • Vocational education and training (VET): In most cases, there are no entrance exams for VET institutions. However, some courses may require you to have studied specific subjects or completed work experience.
  • Higher education undergraduate courses: You will need to have an Australian Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (Year 12) or equivalent. Some undergraduate courses may also have specific prerequisite subjects.
  • Higher education postgraduate course: You must have completed at least one degree at the undergraduate level. Education providers may also consider your research ability or relevant work experience.

Tip: To help you meet the equivalent academic entry requirements of an Australian high school qualification, you could consider taking a Foundation course, also known as a bridging study program. Foundation courses are usually one year long and are offered by most higher education institutions.

How to Apply for Your Student Visa

Arranging a student visa is a very important step. Even if you are starting your studies online, getting a student visa now will help you prepare for on-campus studies in Australia in future. A student visa could also help you get ready for a post-study work visa (Visa subclass 485).

To apply directly to an Australian education provider, please download an application form from the provider's website, via the Course Search tool.

If you need assistance applying for a course, an Australian education agent can help. However, you will still need to supply your agent with all the relevant documents to be submitted with your form.

Relevant documents include:

  • Certificates that verify your previous study, including any qualifications you already have.
  • Evidence of your English language proficiency.
  • Certificates or documents that verify previous study or work experience if you are seeking course credits. These must be translated into English.

 See below for more information on these documents.

Understanding the Student Visa (Subclass 500)

The Student visa (subclass 500) visa allows you to live, work and study in Australia for a maximum of five years, in line with your course.

On this visa, you are normally allowed to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during term time and unlimited hours during study breaks. However, the Australian Government is temporarily allowing students to work over their normal limit of 40 hours per fortnight during term time across all sectors. Currently, students may also start working on arrival in Australia, and do not need to wait until their course commences.

Further information is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Visa Fees

In Australia, student visa fees are AUD$630 per visa application* unless you are exempt. Australian student visa processing times vary from person to person. However, 75 per cent of applications are processed within 29 days and 90 per cent are processed within 42 days.

Student visa holders (including dependents) who arrived in Australia before 19 March 2022 can apply for a refund of their Visa Application Charge up until 31 December 2022. Further information is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.

*Prices are correct at March 2022.

Student Visa Requirements

Here is a breakdown of everything you need to apply for an international student visa.

1. Letter of Offer

If your application is successful, you will receive a Letter of Offer from your chosen education provider.

  • Read the Letter of Offer carefully before you accept it. It will include your course details, enrolment conditions and fees you will need to pay if you accept the offer.
  • Make sure that you understand all your rights, including the refund arrangements; if you don’t start or finish your course, the agreement will be used to determine if you will receive a refund.
  • Do not accept the Letter of Offer if you are not happy with any of its terms.
  • Keep a copy of the Letter of Offer. You will need this copy so that you are aware of your rights and if you have to make a claim against the institution.

2. Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)

A Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) is a document that will be issued by your education provider that verifies your enrolment in a specific course. The CoE will be sent to you after you have accepted your offer and paid your deposit.

You must include a copy of this document in your visa application so that the Australian Government has proof that you are registered in your declared course.

3. Proof of English Proficiency

If you are not a native English language speaker, you’ll need to supply a certificate of results from an approved English language test, because Australian educational courses are taught in English. This certificate will prove to the Australian Government that you meet the minimum English proficiency levels needed to succeed in your given course.

There are only certain tests you can take that will be accepted by the Australian Government, but all are easily accessible from around the world.

There are varying minimum requirements for each education level, and institutions sometimes set these requirements higher for certain courses.

See studying and training visas on the Australian Department of Home Affairs website for more information and check the education provider’s website for English language requirements.

4. Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) Requirement

To meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement, you must write a statement that addresses two criteria:

1) That you are genuinely coming to Australia to study and not for any other reason.

2) That you will only be residing in Australia temporarily (and not overstaying your visa).

In your statement, include details on your ties to home (such as your friends and family, or a job that you have to return to) as well as the value of the course to your future career or academic goals.

By including these details, it will prove both your intention to return home at the end of your visa and your true intention to study in Australia.

5. Proof of Sufficient Funds

To receive an Australian student visa, you must prove that you have enough money to support yourself throughout your stay. There are two options for meeting this requirement:

  • Provide bank statements, evidence of grants or scholarships. This will prove that you have enough money to cover all your costs and expenses through your course, such as travel, course fees and rent.
  • Supply proof of your parent's or partner’s annual income, which must be AUD$62,222 in the year immediately before you apply. If you bring family members, the annual income must be at least AUD$72,592.

For more information on the minimum required funds, head to the Department of Home Affairs website, and navigate to 'Gather your documents'.

* Prices are correct as of 6 May 2021, refer to the Department of Home Affairs website for current price information.

6. Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

As an international student in Australia, you must have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the duration of your stay.

If you don’t provide proof that you have bought this insurance, your student visa application will be denied.

OSHC will help you:

  • Pay for medical or hospital care while studying in Australia.
  • Pay for most prescription medicines.
  • Provide you with ambulance cover in emergencies.

While organising your health cover, also make sure you order an OSHC card for use at doctor appointments while you're living in Australia. Read more on our insurance page.

You can find out more about OSHC cover, including where to purchase OSHC at PrivateHealth.gov.au.

7. Health Requirement

The Australian Government requires all international students to be in good health before entering the country. As a result, you may need to undergo a health examination and provide a medical certificate confirming that you meet these health requirements.

8. Character Requirement

There are also certain character requirements that you must meet if you want to study in Australia. In your application, you’ll have to answer some basic questions about your character and past conduct. In some cases, you may even need to provide a police background check.

Other Requirements to Enter Australia

The Australian Government no longer requires people travelling to Australia to have a COVID-19 test before travel. 

However, you will still need to check that you meet the requirements of your airline and any countries you transit through. 

Updates on COVID-19 and Visas

Bridging and Online Courses

Many Australian providers are offering bridging and online courses for international students. To make sure your study outside of Australia (including online) is counted towards your degree, you will still need to have a student visa. 

For more on this, check out the Australian Department of Home Affairs website.

Existing and New Students Impacted by COVID-19

Existing and new student visa holders who undertake online study outside Australia because of COVID-19 will be able to count this study towards their Australian Study Requirement for a post-study work visa (Visa subclass 485). For more on this, click here. For more on this, visit https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/covid19/visa-information/international-students/temporary-graduate-visa

Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) Visa Holders

From 18 January 2022, Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders who are eligible for a replacement Temporary Graduate visa because they lost time in Australia as a result of COVID-19 international travel restrictions will have their visas extended to 30 September 2022.

This interim measure allows eligible Temporary Graduate visa holders to enter or remain in Australia to live and work until they can apply for a replacement Temporary Graduate visa from 1 July 2022. Further information is available on the Department of Home Affairs website: www.homeaffairs.gov.au/covid19/visa-information/international-students/temporary-graduate-visa.

Explore More Visa Options

Explore your visa options for studying in Australia via the Australian Department of Home Affairs' website.

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