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Visa Requirements for Students in Australia You Need to Know

to study in Australia, you must obtain an Australian student visa. You must be able to prove to the Department of Home Affairs that you meet the following key Australian student visa requirements:

  • Original Temporary Participant (GTE) Requirements

  • Financial requirements

  • English proficiency requirements

  • Health and character requirements

You will also need to complete an Australian student visa application form, pay a visa application fee, and possibly attend an interview. Sounds like a lot to remember? Here's everything you need to know.

Visa Requirements for Students in Australia
Visa Requirements for Students in Australia

What is a (GTE) Genuine Temporary Entrant?

Introduced in November 2011, the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement says that visa applicants must be able to demonstrate a genuine intention to stay in Australia temporarily for study purposes or to accompany the student as a dependent (i.e. spouse or child) or as a guardian. Decision-makers at the Ministry of Home Affairs will consider the following factors:

  • Circumstances in your home country

  • Potential circumstances for you in Australia

  • The value of the course you choose for your future

  • Your immigration history

To determine whether you meet the GTE requirements, you may be asked to attend an interview at the nearest Australian embassy or consulate. Some applicants only need to fill out a visa application form.

Fill out the Australian student visa application form

All international students apply for the same visa: Student Visa (Subclass 500), which you must apply for online.

Before applying for a visa, you must obtain a Confirmation of Enrollment (COE) or Letter of Offer confirming that you have been accepted into a course listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions of Courses (CRICOS). The COE will be in the form of an online code which you must enter in the appropriate section of the online visa application. You may also need to pay a deposit for your tuition fees.

You will be able to change courses afterward to study in Australia at the same level of study or higher, but you will have to apply for a new visa if you change to a lower level course on the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) or a non-AQF level course ( unless changing from Ph.D. to master). You can also package your studies by studying two or more courses on your Student Visa (Subclass 500), where there is clear progression from one course to another.

Australian student visa requirements

When filling out the online visa application form, you must provide evidence of the following in accordance with the Australian student visa requirements:

  1. Financial requirements: Proof of sufficient funds to cover tuition, travel, and living expenses. As of February 2018, the amount you need to prove you have living expenses (separate from tuition and travel) is set at AU$20,290 (~US$13,750) for a year. If you have dependents (such as a spouse and children), you will also need to show proof that you can cover their living expenses, including school fees. Or, you can show evidence that your spouse or parents are willing to support you and that they earn at least AU$60,000 (~US$40,660) a year.

  2. English proficiency requirements: If you are not from an English-speaking country (and have not completed at least five years of study in an English-speaking country), you must prove that you can speak English to the required level. Eligible tests include IELTS, TOEFL iBT, Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic, and Cambridge Advanced English (CAE). The score you need will depend on whether you are starting a full degree, taking foundation courses, or enrolling in the introductory Intensive English Course for Foreign Students (ELICOS).

  3. Health requirements: Some students may be required to undergo medical and/or radiological examinations to demonstrate that they are in good health (this applies, for example, to those wishing to practice as doctors, dentists, or nurses). If told to do so, you must attend an appointment with a doctor-approved by the Australian immigration department.

Except for Belgium or Norway, all students are required to purchase Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). You can purchase this coverage through your university, or directly from one of five approved providers: Health Management Australia, BUPA Australia, Medibank Private, Allianz Global Assistance and nib OSHC. The cost of this health insurance coverage will vary depending on the provider and how long you purchased the coverage.

Students from Sweden who have purchased health insurance through Kammarkollegiet do not need to purchase OSHC. Belgian and Norwegian students are also not required to purchase OSHC as part of their visa requirements.

Character requirements: Australia's student visa requirements stipulate that you must be of good character to enter Australia. This includes a criminal record check, to make sure you don't have a substantial criminal record. You may also need to obtain a criminal clearance certificate (or police certificate) or obtain a police statement and may be asked to complete a Character Legal Declaration Form.

Australian student visa documents

The Department of Home Affairs website has a document checklist feature that will provide you with a list of documents required for your particular circumstances. Typically, students must submit the following:

  • Fill out the Australian student visa application form (157A)

  • Pay the visa application fee – currently AU$620 (~US$420) in most cases

  • Copy of passport biodata page (some students may be asked to provide passport physically)

  • Certificate of Registration or Letter of Offer

  • Proof of sufficient funds

  • Proof of health insurance coverage

  • English proficiency test results

  • Criminal record check results

  • Four recent passport size photos

After you have collected and scanned your supporting documents, you will need to create an account and register with the online ImmiAccount application system.

Most visa applications take four weeks to process. If you are studying in Australia for a course longer than 10 months and completed at the end of the Australian academic year (usually mid-December), your visa will normally be valid until 15 March of the following year. If your course is longer than 10 months and completed in January to October, your visa will usually be valid for two months after your course is completed.

In some circumstances, it may be possible to apply for a further visa at the end of your course (see Ministry of Home Affairs website for further details)

Using your student visa

You can enter Australia on your student visa up to 90 days before your course starts. Within seven days of arrival, you must notify your education provider of your residential address, and also notify them within seven days of changing your address.

When on a student visa, you can work up to 40 hours per fortnight during your studies, and full time on holidays. A visa is automatically issued with a permit to work, although you are not permitted to start work until your course begins, and must not rely on work to support yourself or your family while in Australia.

If you study master's by research or Ph.D., you have no work restrictions. Keep in mind that any work required as part of your course is not included in the restrictions. Voluntary/unpaid work also does not fall within the 40-hour limit if it is strictly voluntary, for non-profit organizations and for the benefit of society.

While holding a student visa, you have certain obligations that must be met: you must remain enrolled in courses listed on CRICOS, attend classes regularly, make satisfactory course progress, and maintain OSHC health insurance. There are also certain visa requirements that you and your dependents must comply with; Violating the visa requirements may result in the cancellation of your visa.

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