How to apply for a student visa

A student visa is your ticket to studying with an Australian education provider.

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This step-by-step guide outlines all the requirements you need to meet to get an international student visa for Australia.
Choosing to study with Australia is an exciting and brave step into a bright future. That said, before you can take this step, you need to finalise some important details. One of the most important things you’ll need is a student visa, specifically the Student visa (subclass 500).

But what do you need to lodge a successful application? What are the Australian student visa requirements and associated fees? What about COVID-19? If Australia’s borders are closed, what’s the point in applying for a visa?

Even though you might not be able to travel to Australia for face-to-face studies at the moment, obtaining a student visa is an important step on your Study Australia journey. If you’re starting your studies online, obtaining a student visa before you start your course will help get you on track for on campus studies down the track and open up the potential for post-study work visa eligibility (Visa subclass 485).

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about how to apply for a student visa in Australia.

To get a visa, you’ll need to have successfully applied to an Australian education provider either directly or through an Australian education agent. If you choose to apply directly to a provider, you’ll need to download the form from their website.

If you’d like some help applying to study, an Australian education agent can act on your behalf. You’ll still need to supply them with documents to be submitted with your form:

  • Certificates that verify your previous study, including qualifications you already have.
  • Evidence of your English language proficiency.
  • Certificates or documents which verify previous study or work experience if you are seeking course credits. These must be translated into English.
Understanding the Student visa (subclass 500)

Before starting, it’s important that you know some of the key details about the Student visa (subclass 500). This visa allows you to live, work and study in Australia for a maximum of five years in line with your course. On this visa, you are allowed to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during term time and unlimited hours during study breaks. Students undertaking a research postgraduate degree and students in critical industries, including tourism and hospitality, have additional flexibility.

In Australia, student visa fees are AUD$620 per application* unless you are exempt. It’s also important to note that the Australian student visa processing times vary from person to person. That said, 75 per cent of applications are processed within 29 days and 90 per cent are processed within 42 days.

Now, let’s break down all the Australian student visa requirements you’ll need to meet to ensure your application gets approved.

*Prices are correct at May 2021, refer to the Department of Home Affairs website for current price information.

Letter of Offer

If your application is successful, you will receive a Letter of Offer.

  • 1. Read the Letter of Offer carefully before you accept it. It will include your course details, enrolment conditions, fees you will need to pay if you go ahead with the offer.
  • 2. Make sure that you understand all your rights, including the refund arrangements; if you don’t start or finish your course, the agreement will be used to determine if you will receive a refund.
  • 3. Do not accept the Letter of Offer if you are not happy with any of its terms.
  • 4. Keep a copy of the Letter of Offer. You will need this copy so that you are aware of your rights and if you have to make a claim against the institution.
Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)

A Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) is a document that will be issued by your educational institution that verifies your enrolment in a specific course. The CoE will be sent to you after you have accepted your offer and paid your deposit.

You must include a copy of this document in your visa application so that the government has proof that you are registered in your declared course.

English proficiency

If you are not a native English speaker, you’ll need to supply a certificate from an English language test. This will prove to the Australian Government that you meet the minimum English proficiency levels needed to succeed in your given course. There are only certain tests you can take that will be accepted by the Australian Government, but all are easily accessible from around the world.

Remember that there are varying minimum requirements for each education level, and that institutions sometimes set these requirements higher for certain courses.

Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement

Another Australian student visa requirement is the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) component. To meet this requirement, you must write a statement that addresses two criteria:

  • 1) That you are genuinely coming to Australia to study and not for any other reason.
  • 2) That you will only be residing in Australia temporarily (and not overstaying your visa).

In your statement, you can include details on your ties to home (such as your friends and family, or a job that you have to return to) as well as the value of the course to your future goals. Doing so will prove both your intention to return home at the end of your visa and your true intention to study in Australia.

Proof of sufficient funds

To receive an Australian student visa, you must prove that you have enough money to support yourself throughout your stay. You have two options when it comes to this component of your application:

  • 1) Prove that you have enough money to cover all your costs and expenses through your course, such as travel, course fees and rent. You can provide bank statements, evidence of grants or scholarships.
  • 2) Supply proof of your parents’ or partner’s annual income, which must be AUD$62,222 in the year immediately before you apply. If you bring family members, the annual income must be at least AUD$72,592.

For more information on the minimum required funds, head to the Department of Home Affairs website.
* Prices are correct at 6 May 2021, refer to the Department of Home Affairs website for current price information.

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

As an international student in Australia, you must have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the duration of your stay. If you don’t provide proof that you have bought this insurance, your student visa application will be denied.

Health requirement

The Australian Government requires all international students to be in good health before entering the country. As a result, you may need to undergo a health examination and provide a medical certificate confirming that you meet these health requirements.

Character requirement

There are also certain character requirements that you must meet if you want to study in Australia. In your application, you’ll have to answer some basic questions about your character and past conduct. In some cases, you may even need to provide a police background check.

COVID-19 and visas

Many Australian providers are offering bridging and online courses for international students to get a ‘foot in the door’ of their Australian education. To make sure your study outside Australia is counted towards your degree, you’ll still need to have a student visa. For more on this, check out Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) visa eligibility on the Australian Department of Home Affairs website.

Ready to apply?

You can either apply for your visa yourself, or with the assistance of a registered migration agent. You don’t have to use an agent, but they can provide useful immigration advice if you need support. Use the OMARA Register to find a registered migration agent.

Head to the Department of Home Affairs website when you are ready to apply for your Student visa (subclass 500). Your international study journey is about to begin!