If you are in Australia on a tourist visa, applying for a student visa whilst you are onshore can be a complex pathway to pursue and may pose a higher risk of refusal, depending on your personal circumstances. It may also be the case that an onshore student visa application is not an available option, due to a condition imposed on your visitor visa. In this case, you would need to depart Australia and apply for a student visa from offshore, unless you successfully apply to the Department to have the condition waived.

Why can it be risky to apply for a student visa if you hold a tourist visa in Australia?

One key criterion for grant of a student visa is the Genuine Temporary Entrant(GTE) requirement. To satisfy this, you must demonstrate to Immigration that you intend to genuinely stay in Australia temporarily and comply with the conditions imposed on your student visa, should it be granted. To make this assessment, the Department will consider the following:

Your circumstances in your home country

  • Reasons for not undertaking studies in your home country or region
  • Whether your economic situation, personal ties and military service commitments (where applicable) in your home country would support a temporary stay in Australia
  • Whether there is any civil or military unrest in your home country that would not support a temporary stay in Australia

Your potential circumstances in Australia

  • Incentives you may have to remain in Australia
  • Your knowledge of living in Australia

Your immigration history

  • Whether there is anything in your immigration history that would not support an intention of a temporary stay in Australia. Further scrutiny will be applied if you have maintained ongoing residence in Australia on a range of short-term temporary visas

As a tourist visa holder, this aspect is likely to pose the highest risk for your student visa application. The Department will seek to confirm that you are not using the visa programme to maintain ongoing residence in Australia and that you are a genuine student visa applicant.

The value of the course to your future

  • Whether the course is relevant and appropriate to your current employment and education background
  • Your future employment/career prospects

Your record of compliance with previous visa conditions

  • Your record of compliance with conditions of your current tourist visa, or other visas previously held
  • Your stated intention to comply with conditions for which the student visa is granted

Any other relevant matter

  • The Department can take into account any matter it considers relevant in assessing whether you meet the GTE requirement which has not already been covered above. If there is some objective evidence or reason to doubt your genuineness as a student, the Department can conduct further enquiries, as required, in making its assessment

As part of your student visa application, you should prepare and submit a signed written statement to demonstrate that you satisfy the GTE requirement and address the matters listed above. This should be accompanied by supporting documentary evidence.

When are you not permitted to apply for a student visa in Australia?

In assessing your eligibility to apply for a student visa in Australia, you should carefully check your tourist visa grant notification letter to confirm whether visa condition 8503has been imposed. The effect of this visa condition is as follows:

 ‘a visa holder will not, after entering Australia, be entitled to be granted a substantive visa, other than a protection visa, whilst the holder remains in Australia.’

Visa condition 8503 must be imposed if your visitor visa has been sponsored by a family member/relative.  The Department also has the discretion to impose this condition for non-family sponsored tourist visas.

If your tourist visa is subject to condition 8503, you can apply to the Department in writing to have it waived. To have this condition waived, you must satisfy Immigration that circumstances have developed since your tourist visa was granted that have resulted in a major change in your circumstances. This change in your circumstances must have been beyond your control and be compelling and compassionate in nature.