To study abroad in Australia, you need a student visa (unless you are from NZ).
Visas are quite easy to get after an Australian uni or college has accepted you into a course. Australia has less red tape than some other countries.
- There is a streamlined visa process for students.
- Interviews are seldom required.
- You can complete each step just with online or postal communication.
Supporting documents need to be submitted. Generally, each needs to be sent in the form of a certified copy. Where relevant, you should provide an English translation of the document.
Paperwork requirements are high only if (i) you are completing a non-university course and (ii) come from a country associated with high migration risks.
1. Enrol in an Australian course
The first step to obtaining am international student visa for Australia is to apply for a course or courses with a university or college.
To apply directly with an education institution, download the application form from the education provider’s website. You also have the option of applying through an agent that is partnered with the institution and listed on its website.
You will need to prepare supporting documents to send with your application. Required documents vary depending on the course and provider. The most important include:
- Certificates to verify completed study and qualifications;
- Evidence of English language proficiency if required; and
- Certificates or documents that verify previous study and job experience if seeking course credits.
If your application is successful, you will receive a Letter of Offer.
- To accept the offer, respond to the letter by signing and sending an acceptance of offer back to the institution.
- The Letter of Offer is a contract between you and the institution. It sets out the course, enrolment conditions and course fees.
- Check that you can meet all visa application requirements before paying any course fees.
After you have accepted the offer and paid a deposit, you will receive an Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment by email. This outlines your course start date, total course fees and how long the course will run.
2. Fill out student visa application
You can apply for a student visa after receiving a Letter of Offer and, preferably, after also receiving Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment.
- An Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment is required for streamlined and online visa applications.
- It is also generally required before a visa can be granted.
- You may apply as early as 124 days before the course start date.
Australia has a number of assessment levels, consisting of Streamlined and Levels 1 through to 5. Higher levels have greater visa documentation requirements. The levels are based on migration risk statistics calculated for different course levels and countries.
- To be eligible for streamlined student visa processing, you generally must have Confirmation of Enrolment for a bachelor or higher degree, or be enrolled in a university student exchange program.
- Students who fall into the Level 1 assessment category just need to attest that they have enough money while students at higher levels need to prove that they can fund the first year. This is A$18,610 in addition to tuition fee amounts.
- Most students are obliged to purchase Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), which costs around A$400 to A$500.
You can apply online for an Australian student visa but the option is not available in all countries. Other methods for applying include regular post, courier service and in person at a local Australian visa office.
3. Certify visa documents, pay fee, submit
Completing the application form may take some time as you need to gather required documents and have them certified.
Supporting documents for Australian visas are delivered in the form of certified copies.
- Certified copies are authorised, or stamped as being true copies of originals, by a person or agency recognised by the law of the country in which you currently reside.
- To ensure the visa application is processed, you should tick off all parts of the visa document checklist.
- Documents in languages other than English must be accompanied by an English translation.
You should pay the visa application fee when you are ready to submit.
- The standard visa application fee is A$550 for the primary visa holder.
- Most student visa types also comes with fees of A$410 for another adult and A$135 for each child.
4. Travel to Australia with student visa
Visa conditions normally allow you to arrive well in advance of the start of your course – up to 90 days earlier. Attach the visa to your passport to gain entry to Australia. You will also be asked to fill out a health declaration form to pass through customs.
It is a visa requirement that you (i) inform your education provider within 7 days of arriving in Australia of your current residential address and (ii) advise them any changes of address within 7 days.
Universities typically have an orientation week (O-Week) before courses start. The week allows students to become familiar with the university, find student accommodation, join clubs, etc. You should participate in O-Week, especially if it is your first year attending the university.