- a refined assessment level (AL) framework
- the extension of streamlined visa processing to certain non-university degree providers.
These changes will make Australia’s education system even more attractive.
Simplifying the AL framework will benefit students from countries such as China and India and will assist vocational education and training students.
Assessment levels will reduce from five levels to three, while financial evidence for AL3 students will reduce from 18 to 12 months—provided funds are from a close relative of the student visa applicant. Both these changes are subject to the legislative change process, so they are proposed changes until formally recognised in legislation from March 2014. If the proposed changes do go through the legislative process as intended, students from many countries will be able to apply for a student visa with up to A$40 000 less in the bank.
Visit our website for more information about the simplified assessment levels and new visa processing arrangements or, if you have a question about the changes, join us this Wednesday on Facebook where we will be hosting a live chat. Visit the event on our Facebook page to post your student visa questions.
What: international student Facebook live chat.
When: 2–3 pm, Wednesday 20 November (Australian Eastern Daylight Time).
Where: online, on the department’s Facebook event page at international student Facebook live chat.
‘Like’ the department’s Facebook page before Wednesday to follow updates about the event.
This online event is a great opportunity to have all your international student-related questions answered.
Statistics released in the annual Student Visa Program Trends report show that student visa numbers have experienced a return to sustainable growth in the last two years. This is part of a broader trend during the past 10 years from 2003.
Between 2005 and 2009, overseas student numbers, particularly in the vocational education and training sector, increased at an unsustainable rate due to many people using student visas as a pathway to skilled migration. When the government decoupled the link between studying in Australia and permanent migration, international student numbers started to decrease from 2009–10.
Student visa lodgements have been growing steadily with an increase of 0.4 per cent in 2011–12 and 3.8 per cent in 2012–13. This growth was driven by applications lodged outside of Australia which increased by 11.1 per cent in the same period. As with lodgements, student visa grants have also been increasing.
In addition, data from the Student Visa Program Quarterly Report shows there were 304 251 student visa holders in Australia as at 30 June 2013. Of these visa holders, 23.4 per cent were from China, the largest cohort, followed by 10 per cent from India.
During the June 2013 quarter, 75 per cent of all student visas were processed within 30 days, while 50 per cent were processed within 14 days. About 93 per cent of applications assessed during this period were granted a visa.
The Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa offers a great opportunity for recently graduated international students to gain valuable work experience after completing their studies. This work experience helps develop the skills graduates gained during their studies and also makes them more employable upon return to their home country.
It is important to note that applicants need to meet a number of eligibility requirements to be granted the temporary graduate visa. And if the visa is granted, temporary graduate visa holders are responsible for finding their own employment.
Applying for this visa
Many international students make a decision to apply for the temporary graduate visa upon completion of their studies. Graduates can apply for this visa up to six months after completion of their studies.
There is no guarantee that, on the basis of having previously held a student visa, the applicant will meet the requirements to be granted a temporary graduate visa.
Any decision to apply for a temporary graduate visa is an entirely separate process to a student visa application. Depending on their individual circumstances, applicants may be eligible to apply for a temporary graduate visa through either the graduate work stream or the post-study work stream.
For information on the eligibility requirements for the temporary graduate visa, check out the Who Can Apply tab on the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa webpage.
Finding a job
The temporary graduate visa allows recent graduates to spend time in Australia to gain practical work experience to accompany their Australian qualification(s). There are no restrictions on the type of employment that the temporary graduate visa holder may choose to undertake.
It is important to note that finding a job is the responsibility of the temporary graduate visa holder. The Australian government is not responsible for arranging employment—there are many organisations which offer assistance in job seeking, including through the Australian Government’s JobSearch website.
Calling all students
Have you recently completed an English language test?
If so, we’d like to hear from you.
Fill in our short survey and let us know about your recent experience with English language tests. You can find the survey here www.surveymonkey.com/s/RG83W23 If you have any difficulties with the link please copy and paste it into your web browser.
Your feedback is important to us and will help inform the department’s review of its expanded English language testing arrangements for students.
The survey will remain open until 5pm AEST 20 May 2013.
Changes have been made to the cancellation regime for student visa holders who breach their visa conditions. Automatic and mandatory cancellations no longer exist and departmental officers now use a discretionary framework to consider breaches of visa conditions.
Automatic and mandatory student visa cancellations were abolished on 13 April 2013. This means that students who do not meet attendance or course progress requirements, or work for more than 40 hours per fortnight no longer face automatic or mandatory cancellation of their visa.
All international students are required to abide by their visa conditions, however if they do breach them they are now subject to a discretionary cancellation framework. The discretionary framework allows departmental officers to take the circumstances of an individual student into consideration when assessing visa condition breaches and making a decision on whether or not to cancel a visa.
The discretionary framework will lead to fairer outcomes for students. For example, it will enable the department to consider individual circumstances, such as where a student may be struggling with particular unit choices and could benefit from a change of course or education provider.
The move to a discretionary framework does not change an education provider’s responsibility to report a student for breaching a visa condition. Providers still have to advise a student when they have breached a visa condition that they may be reported to the department. The provider should also have in place a process for the student to appeal. If an appeal is unsuccessful an education provider must report the student to the department so that a case officer can consider the breach under the discretionary cancellation framework.
More information about the cessation of automatic and mandatory cancellation is available on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website www.immi.gov.au/students/.
Changes have been made to the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa to introduce new post-study work arrangements for certain graduates of an Australian bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree.
The subclass 485 visa now provides recent graduates with the opportunity to spend more time in Australia following their studies to gain practical work experience to accompany their Australian qualification(s).
Significant changes were made to the subclass 485 on 23 March 2013. Subclass 485 visa applicants must now apply in either the Graduate Work stream or the Post-Study Work stream. Each stream of the subclass 485 visa has its own specific requirements that applicants must satisfy for their application to be successful.
The Graduate Work stream is for international students who have recently graduated with skills and qualifications that relate to an occupation in demand in the Australian labour market, as determined by the Skilled Occupation List.
The Post-Study Work stream is for international students who have recently graduated with a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree from an Australian educational institution, regardless of their field of study. This stream of the subclass 485 is only available to international students who applied for and were granted their first Australian student visa on or after 5 November 2011, which is the day the genuine temporary entrant requirement was introduced in the student visa program.
If you are applying for a subclass 485 visa, you now need to provide evidence with your application of having health insurance to cover your stay in Australia.
More information about the new subclass 485 visa, including information about how to apply, is available on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website.
New post-study work arrangements are being introduced in early 2013 for eligible international students who graduate with an Australian Bachelor’s, Master’s or a Doctoral degree.
The new post-study work arrangements will be built as an additional stream in the existing temporary skilled graduate (subclass 485) visa. The subclass 485 currently allows international students who graduate with skills and qualifications that relate to an occupation that is in demand to remain in Australia for an additional 18 months.
From early 2013, the temporary skilled graduate (subclass 485) visa will be renamed the temporary graduate (subclass 485) visa. You may apply for the temporary graduate visa through either the new post-study work stream (the new arrangements) or the graduate work stream (the existing subclass 485 arrangements) provided you meet the specific eligibility requirements.
The post-study work stream of the subclass 485 will be for international students who lodged their first student visa application after the introduction of the genuine temporary entrant requirement (GTE) on 5 November 2011. If you do not meet this requirement, you may still be eligible for a temporary graduate visa through the graduate work stream.
The introduction of new post-study work arrangements for degree level graduates in Australia was a key recommendation of the Strategic review of the student visa program 2011, conducted by the Hon Michael Knight AO.
We have recently published updated information on our website with details about how the new arrangements will work and what the particular eligibility requirements will be. You can view this information here.
More important information about the new post-study work stream of the subclass 485:
To be eligible for the new post-study work arrangements, you must graduate from an Australian educational institution with a Bachelor’s, Master’s and/or Doctoral degree. You may qualify for the new arrangements using any combination of eligible degree level qualifications.
The study used to complete this qualification must have been at Bachelor level and above and must meet the Australian study requirement.
The Australian study requirement
Regardless of whether you are applying under the new post-study work stream or the graduate work stream, you must meet the Australian study requirement in the six months before making your subclass 485 application. The Australian study requirement is defined as study in Australia in a registered course for a period of at least two academic years. The course must be conducted in English and must be completed in no less than 16 calendar months.
We have developed a fact sheet with information on how the Australian study requirement is assessed for the purposes of applying for a temporary graduate visa. This new fact sheet can be found here.
Are the new arrangements linked to skilled migration?
The new arrangements are not linked to skilled migration and do not provide a pathway to permanent residence. Therefore applicants under the new post-study work stream will not be required to nominate a skilled occupation or submit a skills assessment. Applicants under the graduate work stream of the subclass 485 will still be required to nominate a skilled occupation and submit a suitable skills assessment.
It is important to note that student visas and the graduate work visa are temporary visas and there is no guarantee that, on the basis of having held one of these visas, you will meet the requirements for grant of another visa.
Under the new post-study work arrangements, the duration of the subclass 485 visa you are granted will depend on the qualification that you have used to qualify for the arrangements.
Graduates who have completed a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s by coursework degree or Master’s extended degree may be eligible to apply for a two year post-study work visa. Graduates who have completed a Master’s by research degree or a Doctorate may be eligible to apply for a three or four year post-study work visa respectively.
Other graduates may be eligible to apply for an 18 month subclass 485 visa through the graduate work stream.
The department and the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise information sharing between the two agencies. The MoU allows joint audits to be conducted of organisations or individuals where they are suspected of perpetrating immigration fraud or they fail to deliver quality education and training.
This joint action will contribute to quality assurance of the international education industry as well as maintaining high levels of integrity in the student visa program.
The MoU is a positive outcome in line with recommendations from the strategic review of the student visa program, the Knight Review, which recognised the need for cooperation between government agencies to facilitate information sharing and to inform evidence-based decision making.
The department is working closely with ASQA, as they are the national regulator for Australia’s vocational education and training sector. ASQA regulate both courses and training providers to ensure that nationally consistent standards are met. This includes standards to be met by training providers who deliver training to international students.
More information about ASQA can be found on the ASQA website.
Student visa numbers appear to be increasing according to the latest Student Visa Program Trends report.
During 2011–12 student visa applications increased by 0.4 per cent, which may be seen as a minor increase, however, it’s the first increase in lodgements since 2008–09.
Changes to the student visa program during 2011–12 and higher offshore lodgements (which grew by 4.4 per cent) have influenced the increase in students applying to study in Australia.
In November 2011, the department reduced the financial requirements for some prospective international students, and in March 2012, streamlined visa processing was introduced for certain prospective students of participating universities.
Streamlined visa processing means that specified applicants will have reduced evidentiary requirements when applying for a student visa. These changes to the student visa program, along with others, are expected to continue to boost the numbers of genuine international students.
Here are more interesting figures from the report:
- As at 30 June 2012, there were 307 050 student visa holders in Australia.
- 90.1 per cent of student visa applicants were granted a visa during 2011–12
- Most visas granted were higher education visas (113 160 grants), followed by vocational education and training visas (69 944 grants).
- China remains the top source country for international students with 49 592 student visa grants. Indian nationals were granted the second highest number with 33 764 visa grants.
The full report is available on the department’s website.
New web page for Student visa holders who were affected by the skilled migration reforms announced on 8 February 2010.
There is a new web page for current and former Student visa holders who held a Student visa on
8 February 2010, when the Australian Government announced the skilled migration reforms.
The new web page can be found here.
Increasingly in the years leading up to the reforms, the composition of the skilled migration program was being determined by those who wished to apply, rather than by labour market demand. A series of reforms were necessary to reposition the program as demand driven and able to respond better to Australia’s skilled labour needs.
One of the key changes was the withdrawal of the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) and the introduction of a new Skilled Occupation List (SOL). The SOL is a list of occupations that are eligible for independent, or unsponsored, skilled migration. The new SOL consists of 192 occupations, down from more than 400 on the old list, and delivers a skilled migration program that is tightly focused on high value skills that will assist in addressing Australia’s medium to long term skill needs.
When these reforms were announced, the Australian Government also announced generous transitional arrangements for those who held Student visas when the changes were announced. The new web page includes information about these transitional arrangements, as well as other information about extending a Student visa, and also information about the skilled migration program. We plan to expand the page with further information in the coming months.
It is important for students to be aware that the Student visa program and the skilled migration program serve different purposes. A Student visa allows a person to come to Australia and study for a specified period. On the other hand, the skilled migration program has an economic focus. It is designed to meet the needs of the Australian labour market and strengthen the whole economy. Because of this, the requirements for skilled migration may change depending on the economic circumstances of the time, and that is why students should study a course based on their academic interests, rather than to achieve a particular migration outcome.
Student visas are temporary visas, so students should be mindful of their visa expiry date so they can consider their options early. It takes time to apply for another visa, and if a person is unable to obtain another visa they must depart Australia before their Student visa expires. There can be serious consequences for overstaying a Student visa and becoming unlawful, including being unable to return to Australia for up to three years.
Some students might be thinking about lodging an Expression of Interest (EOI) in SkillSelect when their student visa expires. An EOI is not the same as a visa application. It is an indication that a person would like to apply for a skilled migration visa, rather than an application itself. A Bridging visa will not be granted after submitting an EOI. If a person is not invited to apply for a skilled migration visa before their existing visa expires, they will need to obtain another visa or depart Australia.