IMPORTANT changes to the student visa programme July 2016
Effective 1 July 2016 – The simplified student visa framework (SSVF)
- This programme was designed to make it easier for genuine students to navigate and apply for a student visa. As well as, a more direct approach for immigration integrity and less red business tape.
New student visa applicants
- Starting 1 July 2016 applicants will only be able to apply for one student visa to study in Australia – the Student Visa (Subclass 500) – regardless of your field of study.
- Guardians of students will apply for the new Student Guardian Visa (subclass 590).
- All students and guardians can generally lodge their application online by creating their own account on the immigration website under Immi Account.
Current Visa Holders
- After 1 July 2016, if you are a current student visa holder with subclass numbers 570 to 576, your visa will remain the same and completely valid.
- However, family members coming over to join a student visa holder (subclasses 570 to 576) will need to apply for a subclass 500 student visa.
Single immigration risk framework — Key requirements for Student Visa (Subclass 500)
- The previous streamline with the Assessment Level frameworks will be replaced with the single immigration risk framework which applies to all international students.
- Under this new programme, the guide used for what documentary evidence needed for English language and the financial capacity will be a combined immigration risk for the country of where the student has citizenship and the student’s education provider.
Evidence for Streamline
- Students with the lowest immigration risk will generally have a streamlined evidentiary requirement.
- This means these students will most likely be able to satisfy us with proving their financial requirements by using the Confirmation of Enrolment, which shows that they have met their English language requirements by their education provider.
- This is similar to the existing Assessment Level 1 streamlined visa before 1 July 2016.
How to use the online client service tool
- Students can get the details needed for their documentation and evidence to put with their visa application using this tool that will be fully available starting 1 July 2016 to be used before or after their application.
Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement
- This requirement applies to all visa applicants and takes in account whether the individual circumstances of the student show that their intention is for a temporary stay in Australia. The assessment of genuineness is made by considering a number of personal factors about the student, such as their previous immigration dealings, circumstances that may lead the student to return to their home country and conditions back at home to cause them to stay in Australia.
Enrolment in a registered course of study
- International students need to be enrolled in a registered course of study. Then, they must provide the Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) when their applicant is lodged, there are some exceptions to this that were previously in place.
Health and character
- All international students are required to be of good character and will most likely need to take a health examination as part of the visa process. As well as, obtain an Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) before the student visa will be granted.
- All students must have enough funds to cover their entire stay in Australia, as well as higher immigration risk students, based on country and education provider, will have to provide document evidence of finances they have available to them with their application.
- They may work a certain number of hours in Australia, while on the student visa, but should not rely on working to cover these costs.
- The online service tool will let you know what evidence documents are needed for you to add to your application before lodgment, which will be based on the results of the immigration risk associated with the student’s country of citizenship and intended education provider. This will help you so you do not end up with a visa refusal.
- The evidentiary financial documents will include:
Proof of funds to cover travel to Australia, and 12 months of living costs and (for school aged dependents) school costs for the student and joining family members.
They need documentation of meeting the yearly income requirement, which is at least AUD 60,000 of personal income. If the student has joining family members the annual amount is AUD 70,000, which needs to be the personal income of the student’s spouse or parent only. If the combined income from two working parents is enough, that may be considered as well. The documentation for financial evidence must be in the form of an official government documents, such as a tax assessment. The 12 month living cost requirement is similar to the Assessment Level 2 requirement that applied before 1 July 2016. The type or evidence would include: money deposit or loan with a financial institution, government loan, scholarship or sponsorship.
Living cost amounts
Starting 1 July 2016 the living costs for 12 months will be as follows:
- Student/guardian – AUD 19,830
- Partner/spouse – AUD 6,940
- Child – AUD 2, 970
School aged dependents
- Schooling costs of AUD 8,000 per year for each child will need to be added to the amount of funds needed for school aged children in the visa application.
Consumer price index (CPI) indexation
- These financial amounts will be continuously reviewed and adjusted to meet with the CPI figures for the last calendar year. This includes annual income, living costs and schooling costs.
International English language Evidence Requirements
Minimum acceptable English language test scores
- IELTS overall band score of 5.5
- Band score of overall 5 from the IELTS when packaged with at least 10 weeks of ELICOS
- IELTS score of overall 4.5 when put with at least 20 weeks of ELICOS
If you receive the same score as required on the IELTS from the TOEFL paper based test, Pearson Test of English Academic, Cambridge English: Advanced, Occupational English Test, they will be accepted as well.
- Please make sure your test is up to date by taking it two years before the application is made or or within two years of the grant of the visa.
English language exemptions
- Starting 1 July 2016, under SSVF, the same student categories for exemptions will still apply regardless of the immigration risk rating.
- With this new programme, there will be no limitation on the maximum length of ELICOS study that can be taken.
- On 1 July 2016, there will be a new condition which requires all Student (subclass 500) visa holders to maintain enrollment at the same level or higher Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) level for the visa they were granted, unless they are undertaking a doctoral degree (AQF10) and transfer to the master’s degree (AQF9). If you change to a lower AQF level course or to a non-AQF Award course would be a breach of the visa that was granted and could result in your visa being cancelled. If a student would like to transfer to a lower level course must apply, and be granted, the student visa to go with the new course.
School sector requirements
Age for school entry
- Starting 1 July 2016, regardless of the student’s country of citizenship, all school students must be age appropriate.
To be granted a visa the student must be:
- At least 6 years old at the time of the application
- If starting year 9 of high school they must be less than 17 years old
- If starting year 10 of high school they must be less than 18 years old
- If starting year 11 of high school they must be less than 19 years old
- If starting year 12 of high school they must be less than 20 years old
Grant periods for primary school students
- The normal maximum grant period for a student visa is 5 years, but there is an exemption of two years for primary school students.
When all students under the age of 18 lodge their visa application they must continue to have welfare arrangements in place for their entire stay in Australia with one of the following forms:
- Form 157N which nominates a relative that is suitable in Australia
- Form 157N and an application for a Student Guardian (subclass 590) visa for a family member
- A Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare letter from the education provider.
- An Acceptance Advice of Secondary Exchange Students (AASES) form
- 1 July 2016 you may package two or more courses on one student visa as long as there is progression from one to the other and you are a genuine student.
Family members of students
- Family unit members of students must be declared on the first student visa application, regardless of whether or not they intend to join them at a later stage. If they were not declared they will not be eligible for the grant of a visa to join at a later stage, but if they didn’t become a family member until after the visa is granted they can get an exception.
- Effective starting 1 July 2016, there will be no limits on the lengths of certain courses that the student applicant must study to be accompanied by family members, including subsequent dependents.
Student Guardian (subclass 590) visa
- Which has the following new requirements:
- All applicants must have enough funds to cover the travel costs and have enough for the cost of living for themselves, the student, and any secondary applicants for the whole intended stay in Australia.
- The single immigration risk framework will not apply to Student Guardian visa (subclass 590) with the SSVF.
- Any subsequent applications to this visa will not be accepted starting on 1 July 2016.
Reporting by education sector
- Under the SSVF, the capacity to report on visa outcomes by education sectors will be maintained.
- Starting 1 July 2016 immigration will now aim to finalise 75 percent of lodged student visa applications one month after completion.
Impact on Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485)
- This visa is not included in the changes happening 1 July 2016 and will remain the with the same eligibility requirements.
General Information for education providers
Starting 1 July 2016
Implications of the SSVF for education providers
- An immigration risk rating between one (lowest risk) and three (highest risk) has been given to all education providers registered with the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). This was based on the outcomes of their international students over the last 12 month period. Under the SSVF, the same method has been used to give an immigration risk to each country. Using this model, all education providers across all education sectors will have access to the benefits that come along with streamlined evidentiary requirements for at least a few countries.
Eligible students for streamlined evidentiary requirements under SSVF
- All risk one countries and education providers will be streamlined evidentiary requirements. Whereas, all risk level three countries and education providers will be regular evidentiary requirements, meaning they are required to have financial and English language evidence with their application. If both are risk level two, then they will be streamlined. If say, one is two and one is three then they will be regular according to immigration risk ratings.
Non-publication of immigration risk ratings of education providers and countries
- The rating immigration has given countries and educational providers will not be published but instead will be fed into an online tool that will guide students on their likely evidence requirements for English language and financial capacity.
Sharing immigration risk data externally, including with agents
- It is not recommended that the education provider immigration data be shared with external parties, including agents, for this could end up with the educational provider’s rating increasing.
Updates to immigration risk ratings
- Updates are intended for the immigration risk ratings every six months based on the outcomes over the last 12 months, the first update is scheduled for March 2017
Opting in to the SSVF
- Education providers are not required to opt in to the new programme as it will apply to all of them.
Immigration risk ratings applied to smaller education providers
- When education providers enroll a small amount of international students they will automatically be given a default risk rating of 2.
Streamlined visa processing (SVP) arrangements
- SVP policy guidelines expire at the end of June 2016, but will continue running until such time.
ONE derland Consulting has extensive experience dealing with different type of visas and complex cases, to find further information on your options and eligibility for student visa, please contact our office on (+61) 089477-5831 or email: [email protected]