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Student visa update: supporting international students during coronavirus

20 July 2020
Student visa update

The Federal Government has today announced it is making a number of changes to student visa arrangements so that “Australia remains a priority destination for international students as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are pleased to see that the government has acknowledged the importance of international students not only to the economy but to the broader Australian community.

The March 2020 closure of Australia’s borders has had a huge impact of our education sector and the government is now looking at actions to take following the pandemic to give some certainty back to international students and to ensure this sector bounces back.

There are 5 key visa changes that were announced today:

1. The Government will recommence granting student visas in all locations lodged outside Australia. This means when borders re-open, students will already have visas and be able to make arrangements to travel.

We note if you are granted a student visa this does not mean you can automatically enter Australia. You will need to check what travel restrictions exist at that time of whether any exemptions apply to you. You can contact our office if you are unsure.

2. International students will be able to lodge a further student visa application free of charge if they are unable to complete their studies within their original visa validity due to COVID-19.

It is important that you make sure your visa doesn’t expire before applying for your further student visa.

3. Current student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to COVID-19 will be able to use that study to count towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa.

This is a very important update that we had hoped to see. If you are considering applying for a subclass 485 visa at the end of your study, you may want to book in for a free 10 minute phone advice with our office to ensure you meet the study requirement.

4. Graduates who held a student visa will be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa from outside Australia if they are unable to return due to COVID-19.

5. Additional time will be given for applicants to provide English language results where COVID-19 has disrupted access to these services.

It is important that you communicate with the Department if you require this additional time.

These 5 changes are in addition to previous announcements to:

  • relaxed work restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • be flexible towards student visa holders where the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented international students meeting their visa conditions, such as not being able attend classes in person.

We note the above is information only and is not legal advice. This information is current as at the time of publishing and we continue to publish new information as the coronavirus pandemic evolves. We recommend you speak to one of our migration lawyers for a free 10 minute phone or video call to discuss your student visa application if you have any questions.

You can access the Australian Government media release on these student visa arrangements here.

An experienced migration lawyer can make all the difference when you need.