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STUDENT VISA RULES FROM 01 JUL 2016

For current students:If you hold a student visa with subclass numbers 570 to 576, your visa will remain valid and your visa conditions will not change after 1 July 2016.
After 1 July 2016, family members of Student visa holders (subclasses 570-576) will need to apply for a subclass 500 visa if they want to join a family member in Australia.
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)

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.

Financial capacity

Under the SSVF, evidence of funds to cover travel to Australia and 12 months’ living, course fees and (for school-aged dependents) schooling costs for the student and accompanying family members
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.
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

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.
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.

Course transfers

From 1 July 2016, a new condition will be introduced which requires all Student (subclass 500) visa holders to maintain enrolment at the same level or a higher Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) level for which they were granted a visa, unless they are undertaking a doctoral degree (AQF10) and transfer to a master’s degree (AQF9).
Transferring to a lower AQF level course or transferring from an AQF level course to a non-AQF Award course would be in breach of the student visa condition and might result in the visa being cancelled. Students who want to change to a lower level course must apply for, and be granted, a new student visa before they change their course.
Standard 7 of the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2007 also applies to transfers between CRICOS-registered providers. For more information visit the Department of Education and Training website.

School sector requirements

Age requirements for school study

From 1 July 2016, all school students must be of an appropriate age for school entry
Appropriate age for school entry
Age requirement:
• 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.

Welfare

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.

Packaging arrangements

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 dependents.
Generally, the same level of evidentiary requirements of financial capacity applied to the primary applicant (student) would apply to their family members, including subsequent dependents.
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 dependents.

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).

Processing times

Around 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.

Fraud

The department 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.

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