Following weeks of rumours, the Australian Government announced on Monday 20 July 2020 that a number of changes are being made to student visa arrangements. These include international students being able to extend their visa free of cost, and those who hold a student visa but are offshore now eligible to apply for a post-study work visa.
What are the changes?
There are five visa changes that will ensure international students are not in a worse position due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- “The Government will recommence granting student visas in all locations lodged outside Australia. This means when borders re-open, students will already have visas and be able to make arrangements to travel.
- International students will be able to lodge a further student visa application free of charge, if they are unable to complete their studies within their original visa validity due to COVID-19.
- Current student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to COVID-19 will be able to use that study to count towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa.
- Graduates who held a student visa will be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa outside Australia if they are unable to return due to COVID-19.
- Additional time will be given for applicants to provide English language results where COVID-19 has disrupted access to these services.”
Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said the changes provide assurance to international students already in Australia and those who haven’t been able to travel due to COVID-19 border closures: “We are a welcoming nation with a world-class education system and some of the lowest rates of COVID-19 in the world. Students want to study here and we want to welcome them back in a safe and measured way when it is safe to do so.”
Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the changes would give international students confidence in their visa arrangements so they can make plans to study in Australia when it is safe to do so.
“Our remarkable efforts in controlling the spread of the virus mean we can begin to welcome back international students in a COVID-safe way once state borders re-open and face-to-face learning resumes,” Mr Tehan said.
Can I apply for a student visa for free?
If you are a current student visa holder who has been unable to come to Australia due to border closures, or were unable to complete your studies within your original student visa validity due to COVID-19, you will be able to lodge another student visa application for free so you can continue your studies.
What does this mean for the post-study work visa?
As previously rumoured, these new changes will mean current student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to COVID-19 will be able to use that study to count towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa (previously, online study would not count). In addition, graduates who held a student visa will be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa outside Australia if they are unable to return to the country due to COVID-19 border closures.
However, these changes will not apply to new students.
You can view the press release regarding this announcement here.
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