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Visa Update: International Students Must Have Minister Approval to Change Courses

The Department of Home Affairs has announced a new condition for Student visa (subclass 500) holders, which is expected to come into effect in July 2022. Under this condition, student visa holders must apply for ministerial approval if they want to change their course (which includes your thesis, major and research topics).

The CEO of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), Phil Honeywood, has received clarification from the Home Affairs Department regarding this. The Department has assured him that the new regulations will only relate to a very small number of critical technology courses that might have national security implications. They are likely to also relate only to a very limited number of postgraduate students from a small number of countries.

Here’s what the update means for you as an international student and how you can apply to change your course.

What do I need to do if I want to change my course?

Once the change comes into effect, you can still apply to change your course as an international student on a Student visa (subclass 500) holder studying one of these critical technology courses. However, before you do so, you’ll need to gain approval from the Minister for Home Affairs if you’re pursuing any of the following degrees in these critical technology courses:

  • Graduate certificate
  • Graduate diploma
  • Master’s degree
  • Doctorate, or
  • Any bridging course required as a prerequisite to a course of study or research for a master’s degree or doctorate

You can read more about this condition here under ‘8204 – Study limitations’.

How to submit for approval

If you’re considering changing your thesis, major or research topic and you are in one of these critical courses you must complete Form 1221 – Additional personal particulars information (PDF) and submit it to adelaide.student.centre@homeaffairs.gov.au. In your email, the subject line must be ‘8203/8204 assessment’.

The Minister can only provide approval once he/she has obtained an assessment from the competent Australian authorities that you aren’t likely to pose a direct or indirect risk to Australian national security.

Where can I learn more?

For more information on visa requirements and updates, visit the Department of Home Affairs website. You can head to the ‘Your study situation has changed’ interactive web page for a more detailed look into your responsibilities when it comes to changing your course. 

You can also visit our Student Visa Information page for some extra guidance on all things related to student visas.