Australia is a country with a strong economy, unique cultural diversity and natural beauty. It is also an attractive destination to study. Australia is home to excellent and innovative schools. Most of those considering going to Australia to study will need to obtain a student visa.
Do I need a student visa for Australia?
All non-Australian passport holders who wish to visit Australia are required to get either a visa or another form of travel permit to enter the country.
The ETA Australia is an online travel authorization to travel to and within Australia for short periods of time which is among the fastest and easiest to obtain. The online tourist visa for Australia is valid for a consecutive stay of 3 months, and has a total validity of 12 months from the date it is issued. The Australian ETA is a multiple entry visa.
However, even though the ETA for Australia grants its holder a stay of up to 3 months, people interested in studying in Australia will need to obtain a student visa through the embassy or consulate. There are several steps and requirements that applicants must follow to get their student visa for Australia.
How the Australian student visa works
The Australian student visa allows eligible foreign nationals to enter Australia for study purposes. It is valid for up to 5 years in line with the student’s enrolment.
Holders of an Australian visa for students can:
- Take part in an eligible course of study
- Bring family members in Australia
- Travel in and out of the country
- Carry out paid work for up to 40 hours per fortnight once the course has started
How to get an Australian student visa
Foreign citizens, in order to study in Australia, are required to obtain an Australian student visa. They will need to demonstrate to the Department of Home Affairs that meet all necessary requirements to get the visa:
- Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement
- Financial requirements
- English proficiency requirements
- Health and character requirements
Additionally, they must complete an Australian student visa application form and pay the respective visa application fee. In some cases, they may need to attend an interview.
How do I get the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement?
The Genuine Temporary Entrant was introduced in November 2011. It means that a student visa applicant must demonstrate a genuine intention to stay in Australia for a temporary period of time for the sole purpose of study, or to accompany a student as a dependent (i.e. spouse or child), or as a guardian.
The Department of Home Affairs will take into consideration the following:
- Circumstances in your home country
- Potential circumstances for you in Australia
- Value of your chosen course
- Your immigration history
It is possible that in order to determine whether you meet the GTE requirements you will be asked to go to an interview at the Australian embassy or consulate.
The Australian student visa application form
International students can apply online for their Australian student visa. It is the same application for all foreign students.
All applicants will first need to get a Confirmation of Enrolment (COE), which confirms they have been accepted into a course.
Not all study courses are eligible. To support a student visa application, the course must be registered under the Commonwealth of Institutions of Courses (CRICOS). The COE is an online code which applicants will need to provide on the online student visa application form.
Australian student visa requirements
Besides having a COE, and completing the visa application form, petitioners need to meet the following Australian student visa requirements:
Evidence of sufficient funds. These should cover the tuition of the school, travel, and living costs. As of February 2018, the minimum amount to demonstrate is set at 15,600 USD per year. It is also possible to show evidence that the spouse or parents will be supporting the student during their stay, and that they make at least over 46,000 USD a year.
Evidence of English proficiency. There are several tests applicants can take, these are the IELTS, TOEFL iBT, Pearson Test of English (PTE), and Cambridge Advanced English (CAE).
Health requirements. Some students may be asked to take a medical or radiological check-up to show that they are in good health.
With the exception of Norway and Belgium, all international students must obtain Overseas Student Health Cover (OSCH.)
Successfully completing the Australian student visa application
International students who wish to study in Australia can successfully get the student visa if they meet all the requirements and provide all essential documents:
- A student visa application form properly and accurately completed
- Payment of the visa application fee
- A copy of the applicant’s biodata page
- Certificate of Enrolment or Letter of Offer
- Proof of sufficient financial funds
- Health insurance
- English proficiency tests
- Criminal record check report
- Four recent passport-sized photos
Travel to Australia with a student visa
The majority of applications will take about 4 weeks to process. If your student visa is approved, you can enter Australia up to 90 days before your classes start. Once in Australia, you will need to inform your education provider of your resident address.
Be sure to check each step and requirement carefully and consult with the Australian embassy in case you have doubts or questions about the process.
If you only need to be in Australia for a short period of time, check whether you are eligible to apply for the Australian ETA or eVisitor.
FAQ about Australian student visas
Requirements that must be met for a successful student visa application include:
- Student visa application form completed in all of its parts
- Copies of supporting documents such as passport, proof of sufficient funds, acceptance letter from an educational institution in Australia, etc
- Proof of English proficiency
- Proof of good character (such as copies of the applicant’s criminal records) and of the genuine intention to only reside in Australia temporarily
- Further documentation if necessary
Moreover, applicants need to pay the relevant processing fee and may be asked to attend an in-person interview at an Australian diplomatic mission.
Once the visa is granted, students should respect its terms and conditions during the entirety of its validity period.
The validity of the student visa is tied to the duration of the course of study in Australia. Usually, Australian student visas are valid for a maximum of 5 years.
Primary school children enrolled in year 1-4 are generally issued student visas for a maximum validity period of 3 years.
Please keep in mind that the validity of the visa does not start with the course. You can enter Australia up to 90 days prior to the course start date.
The Australian student visa is a temporary visa. Once it expires, you will need to apply for a new visa if you wish to remain in the country.
Prices for a student visa for Australia start at AUD620 but may vary depending on the applicant’s specific circumstances. Some applicants are exempt, you should check the cost of your visa before starting the application process.
Moreover, students should note that there may be extra costs associated with the application process, that they may incur when travelling to the nearest Australian diplomatic mission or obtaining copies of their supporting documents.
Those wishing to remain in Australia for a short period of time may be eligible for other, more affordable types of Australian visas that can be requested entirely online and require minimal supporting documentation.