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? What are the Australian student visa requirements and associated fees? What about COVID-19? If Australia’s borders are closed, what’s the point in applying for a visa?
Obtaining a student visa is an important step on your Study Australia journey. Even if you’re starting your studies online, obtaining a student visa before you start your course will help get you on track for on campus studies down the track and open up the potential for post-study work visa eligibility (Visa subclass 485).
To get a visa, you’ll need to have successfully applied to an Australian education provider either directly or through an Australian education agent. If you choose to apply directly to a provider, you’ll need to download an application form from the provider's website.
If you’d like some help applying for a course, an Australian education agent can help. You’ll still need to supply your agents with all the relevant documents to be submitted with your form. These include:
1) Certificates that verify your previous study, including qualifications you already have.
2) Evidence of your English language proficiency.
3) Certificates or documents which verify previous study or work experience if you are seeking course credits. These must be translated into English.
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 allowed to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during term time and unlimited hours during study breaks. Students undertaking a research postgraduate degree and students in critical industries, including tourism and hospitality, have additional work hours flexibility.
In Australia, student visa fees are AUD$620 per visa application* unless you are exempt. It’s also important to note that 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.
Now, let’s break down all the Australian student visa requirements you’ll need to meet to ensure your application gets approved.
*Prices are correct at May 2021, refer to the Department of Home Affairs website for current price information.
Letter of Offer
If your application is successful, you will receive a Letter of Offer.
- Read the Letter of Offer carefully before you accept it. It will include your course details, enrolment conditions, fees you will need to pay if you go ahead with 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.
Visa requirements checklist
The headings listed in the below sections outline everything you need to apply for a visa and therefore enter Australia.
Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)
A Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) is a document that will be issued by your educational institution 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 government has proof that you are registered in your declared course.
If you are not a native English speaker, you’ll need to supply a certificate from an 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 that 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 institution's website for any specific English language requirements.
The academic requirements (including evidence of English language skills) you need will vary depending on the level of course you want to study. Education providers can have different entry requirements, so read the course information on their website carefully and contact them if you need any advice or assistance.
Here is some general guidance on entry requirements for different levels of study:
- English language courses: see previous section above called 'English proficiency' for more details.
- Schools: Entry requirements vary between schools depending on the state or territory. Academic performance and ability is considered during the application process.
- 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 the overseas 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. This institution may also consider your research ability or relevant work experience.
Tip: To meet the academic requirements of an Australian high school qualification, consider taking a foundation course. Also known as bridging study, they are intensive courses that will help you meet entry requirements. They are usually one year long and are offered by most higher education institutions.
Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement
Another Australian student visa requirement is the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) component. To meet this 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, you can 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 careers or academic goals. Doing so will prove both your intention to return home at the end of your visa and your true intention to study in Australia.
Proof of sufficient funds
To receive an Australian student visa, you must prove that you have enough money to support yourself throughout your stay. You have two options when it comes to this component of your application:
- Prove that you have enough money to cover all your costs and expenses through your course, such as travel, course fees and rent. You can provide bank statements, evidence of grants or scholarships.
- Supply proof of your parents’ 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.
* Prices are correct at 6 May 2021, refer to the Department of Home Affairs website for current price information.
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.
You can find out more about OSHC cover, including where to purchase OSHC at PrivateHealth.gov.au.
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.
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.
COVID-19 and visas
Many Australian providers are offering bridging and online courses for international students to get a ‘foot in the door’ of their Australian education. To make sure your study outside Australia is counted towards your degree, you’ll still need to have a student visa. For more on this, check out Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) visa eligibility on the Australian Department of Home Affairs website.
Explore your visa options for studying in Australia via the Australian Department of Home Affairs' website.
**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 if they have a visa while studying remotely. For more on this, visit https://www.studyaustralia.gov.au/english/resource-hub/student-visa-updates-july-2020/student-visa-program-july-2020