New rules in effect for Australian student visas

20 November 2011

The first stage of a series of changes in Australian student visa laws is being implemented as part of the government's response to the Knight Review, including changes in financial requirements and the admission process.

The Knight Review is a government appointed strategic review of the student visa program to help reform the Australian immigration student visa program.

From 5 November, student visa applicants will need to include a confirmation of enrolment, issued by their intended education provider, as part of their student visa applications, the statement said.

A new 'genuine temporary entrant' (GTE) criterion was also implemented 5 November. According to the department, the criterion addresses whether the individual circumstances of an applicant indicate that their intention is for a temporary stay in Australia. It will be assessed by interview in most cases and will consider the student's background and the value of the course to their future.

Additionally, the financial requirements for certain student visa applicants have been reduced, meaning students will need up to AUD36,000 less in the bank when applying for a visa. The department noted that "applicants for the vocational education and training and private education sectors in particular will benefit from this change".

Other changes that are now in place include:

• Extending the time new PhD students can stay in Australia on a subclass 574 visa while their thesis is being marked;
• Discontinuing pre-visa assessment policy to help speed up visa processing;
• Allowing prepaid homestay fees to be included in the financial requirements assessment for a student visa;
• English language students can apply for a visa without first meeting minimum English skills requirements

"The change that came in this week recognises that the financial requirements for student visas were often too onerous, and discouraged applicants from choosing Australia as their preferred study destination," said Bowen. "We want to avoid the situation where student visa holders are desperate to stay in Australia to work to pay off large study debts amassed at home."

"While international students may aspire to remain in Australia, if they cannot achieve permanent residency or long-term employee sponsorship, they need to return to their home countries," Mr Bowen said.

The majority of the stage two Knight Review changes are proposed to be implemented by mid 2012 with some other changes to commence in early 2013.

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