For many international students, Australia is an awesome place to study. With a good quality of life and plenty of well-respected educational institutions to choose from, you can study, work and live in a fun new environment.
If your chosen course of study will be less than three months in duration, you can complete it while in Australia on a Visitor visa. Similarly, if you have a Working Holiday visa, you are legally able to complete a course of study that is less than four months long. All other students will need to apply for a Student visa (subclass 500).
Applying for a Student visa in Australia can be a complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re already in Australia on a Working Holiday or Visitor visa, you can apply online without leaving the country. Granted there are no ‘No Further Stay’ conditions on your existing visa, your Working Holiday or Visitor visa will have no impact on your Student visa application, as the two are entirely separate. But if you transition to a Student visa, your existing Working Holiday or Visitor visa will be cancelled.
There are some other strict rules governing who can apply for a visa in Australia and the restrictions of each visa type, so you need to carefully follow the steps below to avoid any issues.
Before you apply
Your Student visa can only be granted after you have received a Confirmation of Enrolment letter (CoE) from your chosen institution. This means that you need to apply directly to an accredited university or college and be accepted into a course before applying for your visa.
Initially, if you are accepted to study at an institution, you will receive a Letter of Offer as well as an acceptance form. Once you accept the offer and provide all required documents and fees, the institution will then send you an electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE).
To be eligible for a Student visa, you must be enrolled in a full-time CRICOS registered course of study, satisfy the Genuine Temporary Entrant requirements, provide evidence of your English skill level, hold adequate Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) insurance, and meet health and character standards.
To meet the financial requirements, you will need to prove that you have access to at least AUD$20,290 for costs incurred during the first 12 months of your stay in Australia. You can prove this through a bank deposit, scholarship documents, or evidence of a loan.
Ask for help
If you have any questions or concerns about the Student visa, local organisations like Boomerang can help with everything from choosing a course to finding suitable student accommodation. Boomerang provides free assistance with admission to colleges and universities in Australia, as well as career counselling, health insurance, and visa application advice.
Different visa restrictions
You should also be aware of the Student visa restrictions in order to lawfully remain in Australia during your studies, which are different to the conditions on a Working Holiday or Visitor visa. The main condition to be mindful of is that while the registered course of study is in session, you cannot work more than 40 hours per fortnight or 20 hours per week. During the holiday period when there are no classes, you are able to work as much as you like.
Obviously, you must also maintain enrolment in a registered full-time course of study and maintain your Overseas Student Health Cover to continue to be eligible for a Student visa.
The Australian Government’s Document Checklist Tool is a great resource for finding out everything you need to apply for a Student visa. Once you’ve collected these documents, you can submit your application online yourself or using a registered migration agent.
Because you are already in Australia, you will usually be granted a Bridging visa A (BVA), which will come into effect when your current Visitor or Working Holiday visa expires. This Bridging visa allows you to remain in Australia while your new visa is processed.
When your visa is approved, it will be emailed to your nominated email address by the Department of Home Affairs and you will need to provide it to your educational institution. With your Student visa sorted, you’ll be well on your way to attending your first class at your new university.