Overview of key changes – from 1 July 2016
(UE) The simplified student visa framework (SSVF) comes into effect on 1 July 2016
(UE) The simplified student visa framework (SSVF) comes into effect on 1 July 2016.
The SSVF is designed to make the process of applying for a student visa simpler to navigate for genuine students, deliver a more targeted approach to immigration integrity and reduce red tape.
This factsheet summarises the key changes under the SSVF compared to the student visa process before 1 July 2016.
Applying for a student visa
From 1 July 2016:
- international students will apply for a single Student visa (subclass 500), regardless of their chosen course of study
- student guardians will apply for the new Student Guardian visa (subclass 590)
- all students and student guardians will generally be required to lodge their visa application online by creating an account in ImmiAccount.
Single immigration risk framework—English and financial requirements
From 1 July 2016, a single immigration risk framework applies to all international students and replaces the previous streamlined visa processing and Assessment Level frameworks.
Under the SSVF, the combined immigration risk outcomes of the student’s education provider and country of citizenship will be used to guide the level of documentary evidence of English language and financial capacity that the student needs to provide with their visa application.
Streamlined evidentiary requirements
Under the SSVF, students associated with the lowest immigration risk will generally have streamlined evidentiary requirements.
This means that these students will generally be able to satisfy us of their financial capacity by providing a declaration and a Confirmation of Enrolment which shows that they have met their education provider’s English language requirements.
We will however retain the discretion to seek further evidence where appropriate.
The online client service tool
Students will be able to obtain details about the documentation and evidence that will need to be included with their student visa application by accessing a working sample of the online tool on our website from mid May 2016. The online tool will be fully functional from 1 July 2016 and accessible at any stage of the visa application process, including prior to the submission of a visa application.
Under the SSVF, all student visa applicants must have sufficient funds available for the duration of their stay in Australia.
Students associated with higher immigration risk, based on their country and education provider immigration risk outcomes, will generally need to provide documentary evidence of financial capacity with their visa application.
Where our online client service tool indicates that documentary evidence of financial capacity is required, it is important for applicants to attach these documents to their visa application prior to lodgement. Failure to do so might result visa refusal.
Where additional evidence of financial capacity is required, the student will be able to provide this as one of the following:
- evidence of funds to cover travel to Australia and 12 months’ living, course fees and (for school-aged dependants) schooling costs for the student and accompanying family members
- evidence of meeting the annual income requirement
- an Acceptance Advice of Secondary Exchange Students (AASES) form, for secondary exchange students only.
The annual income option requires students to provide evidence of personal annual income of at least AUD 60,000. For students accompanied by family members the amount is AUD 70,000 or more. The income demonstrated must be the personal income of the student’s spouse or parents only. In circumstances where both the student’s parents are working, their combined income can be considered for this requirement. In all cases, the evidence of annual income must be in the form of official government documentation, such as a tax assessment.
The 12-month living costs requirement is broadly similar to the requirement that applied to Assessment Level 2 students prior to 1 July 2016. The type of evidence, where required, includes: money deposit or loan with a financial institution, government loan, scholarship or sponsorship.
Living cost amounts
From 1 July 2016, the 12 month living cost will be:
- Student/guardian - AUD 19,830
- Partner/spouse - AUD 6,940
- Child - AUD 2,970
Consumer Price Index (CPI) indexation
Financial amounts including annual income, living costs and schooling costs will be regularly reviewed and adjusted in line with the CPI figures for the previous calendar year.
International English language requirements
Where evidence of English language proficiency is required, one of the following minimum English language test scores will be accepted:
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS) overall band score of 5.5
- IELTS overall band score of 5 when packaged with at least 10 weeks' English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS)
- IELTS overall band score of 4.5 when packaged with at least 20 weeks' ELICOS.
The equivalent of the above minimum IELTS test scores from the following English language providers will also be accepted:
- Test of English as a Foreign Language paper based test (TOEFL)
- Pearson Test of English Academic
- Cambridge English: Advanced
- Occupational English Test.
Where our online client service tool indicates that documentary evidence of English language proficiency is required, it is important for applicants to attach these documents to their visa application prior to lodgement. Failure to do so might result in visa refusal.
English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS)
Under the SSVF, there is no limitation on the maximum duration of ELICOS study that could be undertaken. Genuine students will be able to undertake as much ELICOS study as either a standalone course or prior to their principal course, as required.
School sector requirements
Age requirements for school study
From 1 July 2016, all school students must be of an appropriate age for the entry level for their school course, regardless of their country of citizenship.
To be granted a visa for school studies, the student must meet the following age requirements:
Appropriate age for school entry
- at least six years old at time of visa application
- less than 17 years old at time of commencing Year 9 of high school
- less than 18 years at time of commencing Year 10 of high school
- less than 19 years at time of commencing Year 11 of high school
- less than 20 years at time of commencing Year 12 of high school.
Grant periods for primary school students
Generally, the maximum period for a student visa grant is five years, with the exception of primary school-aged students where a maximum period of two years will generally be applied.
The shorter grant period for primary school students will act as an important safeguard for younger and more vulnerable students.
All students under 18 must continue to have welfare arrangements in place for the duration of their stay in Australia and provide one of the following forms of evidence at the time they lodge their visa application:
- Form 157N which nominates a suitable relative in Australia
- Form 157N and an application for a Student Guardian (subclass 590) for a nominated relative
- a Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare letter from the education provider
- an Acceptance Advice of Secondary Exchange Students (AASES) form.
Genuine students will continue to be able to package two or more courses on the one student visa where there is progression from one course to another.
Under the SSVF, education providers will not be required to formally nominate educational business partners and will be able to package with other educational providers with whom they have a commercial arrangement.
Family members of students
From 1 July 2016, family members of existing student visa holders will need to apply for a Subclass 500 visa if they do not currently hold a student visa and want to join the student in Australia.
Family unit members must be declared on the initial student visa application, regardless of whether or not they intend to join the student in Australia at a later stage. Those not declared will not be eligible for the grant of a visa at a later stage. An exception applies to those who became a family member after the primary applicant (student) was granted a visa.
From 1 July 2016, there will be no restrictions on the duration of particular courses that the primary applicant (student) must study to be accompanied by family members, including subsequent dependants.
Generally, the same level of evidentiary requirements of financial capacity applied to the primary applicant (student) would apply to their family members, including subsequent dependants.
In all circumstances, our officers have discretion to ask for evidence of funds, if required.
Student Guardian visa
All applicants for a Student Guardian visa must have sufficient funds to support themselves, the nominating student(s) and any secondary applicants for the duration of their intended stay in Australia.
Under the SSVF, the single immigration risk framework will not apply to Student Guardian visa applicants. Rather, all guardians must provide evidence of their financial capacity with their visa application.
Evidence of financial capacity can be provided in either of the following forms:
- evidence that their spouse has annual income of AUD 70,000 or more
- evidence of sufficient funds to cover travel costs, and the first 12 months' living costs for themselves and each dependent child included in the application.
Under the SSVF, subsequent applications by family members of guardians will not be accepted. Guardians who want to bring additional family members under six years of age to Australia must apply for a new Student Guardian visa for themselves and these dependants.
Reporting by education sector
Under the SSVF, we will maintain the capacity to report on visa outcomes by education sectors. These education sectors will be aligned to the replaced seven (subclass 570 to 576) student visas. Information regarding these education sectors will also be included in student visa grant letters and Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO).
We aim to finalise 75 per cent of complete student visa applications within one month of lodgement.
To reduce visa processing times, students are strongly encouraged to submit all required documents with their visa applications. Failure to submit all required documents might lead to processing delays or visa refusal.
We will continue to focus on ensuring that only applicants who are genuine students, and their immediate family members, are granted a student visa to Australia. Instances of fraud are taken very seriously and are thoroughly investigated by us.
An individual’s visa application could be refused or their visa could be cancelled if there is evidence that the individual has given, or caused to be given, a bogus document or false or misleading information. If a visa is refused or cancelled under these circumstances, the individual could be excluded from applying for further visas for a period of time.
More information: http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Stud/student-visas-1july2016
(Australian Government DIBP)