A Subclass 500 Student visa provides a valuable opportunity for international students to gain a globally recognised, highly regarded qualification from one of the best educational institutions in the world. Australia’s universities have long featured in a range of international rankings, and perform highly for quality of education, student satisfaction and global reputation.
Indeed, in a recent release of rankings, some Australian universities improved their positions from the previous year, increasing the attractiveness of Australia as a destination for international students. The 2022 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) rankings, which are the world’s most widely read, saw the University of Sydney increase its ranking from 40 to 38, whilst the University of New South Wales rose by one spot to 43. The Australian National University is now also ranked 27th. Macquarie University is ranked in the top 200 for the first time since 2009. The University of Technology Sydney remained at 133, the same position as last year, as did the University of Newcastle, retaining its spot at 197. The University of Wollongong also improved, rising to 193rd position. Overall, 16 universities rose, 11 decreased and 9 maintained their position from last year. The QS rankings measure an institution’s citations, faculty-student ratio, proportion of overseas faculty, the number of overseas students, and its reputation in the eyes of employers and academics from other universities. Note that data from 2019-20 or 2020 was used to compute the rankings, with certain allowances made due to the effects of COVID-19, to remove the impact of travel restrictions and the closure of institutions in response to the pandemic. QS director of research, Ben Sowter says that Australia’s success is due to its appeal to the global academic community.
Australia has 43 universities located across the various states and territories, meaning you’ll be spoilt for choice! Not only where you study, but also what you study. You will have a wide range of subject areas and courses from which to choose from. So, you can boost your future career prospects whilst at the same time, experiencing a new country and all it has to offer. Meet other students from around the world, and mingle with the locals. The opportunities are endless. A lifechanging experience that you will long remember.
Education Sectors For Australia’s Student Visa Program
But university is not for everyone. And Australia’s student visa program recognises this, by incorporating different education sectors, as follows:
- Independent English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS);
- Vocational Education and Training (VET);
- Higher Education;
- Postgraduate Research;
- Non Award; and
- Foreign Affairs or Defence.
This means you can complete an English course, or learn a trade for example, as a student visa holder.
Some international students start their course in one sector, and then move to another as they progress their education (subject to meeting all student visa eligibility requirements).
And although the primary purpose of a student visa is a temporary stay in Australia in order to complete a course of study, another benefit is that student visa holders are permitted to work, on a limited basis.
Having explored some of the benefits of a student visa in Australia and what it may offer to potential applicants, what can you do if you are already in Australia and you would like to extend your stay? Is this possible?
Extending Your Stay In Australia On A Student Visa
Well, it may be, depending on your individual situation, you might be able to remain in Australia but importanty, ensure that you explore your options and take the necessary steps to do so with plenty of time before your current student visa expires. Otherwise, leaving this too late can lead to potentially significant ramifications that may affect your ability to qualify for a further student visa, or other visa, in the future.
In this article, we take a closer look at the student visa extension process, including the requirements for a student visa extension in Australia, how to extend a student visa, and the student visa extension fee.
Lets start our discussion by exploring some of the reasons for extending a student visa in Australia.
Reasons To Extend A Student Visa
First up, it is important to note that you cannot technically extend a student visa (that is, lengthen the visa term). Your student visa will cease once it reaches its expiry date. This means that if you would like to remain in Australia after your student visa has expired, you will need to apply for either a new student visa, or another type of visa (such as a visitor visa, for example), provided you are eligible.
Following on from the comments above, please note that when referring to extending a student visa in Australia in this article, we really mean extending your stay in Australia, which, as noted, requires you to apply for a new visa (whether that be a new student, or other type of visa). Again, it is not possible to extend the term of a student visa.
Whatever your circumstances, it is vital to ensure that at all times, you have a valid visa to remain in Australia. This means if you decide to stay on in Australia post-study, that you do plenty of preparation work to understand exactly what your options are. Once you have decided on your next move, make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to take the necessary steps in this process. Leaving this too late can have serious consequences for your visa prospects going forward and it is therefore vital that if you are thinking about potential options to remain in Australia after the completion of your course, that you start acting on this in good time beforehand.
It is therefore important to always be aware of the expiry date of your visa. If you decide to apply for a new visa (whether that be a student visa, or other type of visa), you need to ensure that you apply for the new visa before your current visa expires. Note that if your student visa has expired, you may still be able to apply for a new student visa, provided that your previous student visa expired within the previous 28 days.
Another important caveat to be aware of is that you may be limited in what you can do onshore, depending on the conditions of your current visa. This can occur if you are subject to what is referred to as a ‘No Further Stay’ or a ‘No Further Application’ condition, which means that you cannot be granted a substantive visa whilst you remain onshore, i.e. you will need to depart Australia to apply (although there are a limited number of visas that you may be granted, subject to meeting prescribed requirements). Note that you may request a waiver of this condition in certain circumstances. This requires a major change in your situation since the student visa was granted, which is outside of your control (i.e. you could not have prevented or stopped it).
Another important factor to be aware of is that to be eligible for certain visas, you must hold a specfied pre-qualifying visa. And in some cases, you cannot apply for certain visas unless you have held a certain visa for a certain period of time (this applies to onshore partner visas, for example).
So, why might you seek to remain in Australia for a longer period post-student visa?
1. Complete Current Study
You may wish to remain in Australia due to matters relating to your current course of study to, for example, attend a graduation ceremony (although note that some Australian institutions also hold graduation ceremonies overseas, which may allow you to return home after completing your studies and attend a graduation ceremony closer to home), re-sit an exam that you failed or to complete extra work for a subject in which you are unable to re-enrol.
In these types of circumstances, you may consider extending your stay in Australia by applying for a Visitor Visa in the Tourist stream.
Tourist stream applicants in Australia who hold a Student visa (or have held a Student visa since last entering Australia), can be granted a Tourist stream visa to extend their stay in Australia if the applicant is not seeking to stay in Australia for the purpose of commencing, continuing or completing any studies or training.
2. Remain For Reasons Other Than Study
You may decide to take a break once you complete your studies before returning home and embarking on a job search. You might like to take some time before then to travel across Australia and explore this unique country as a tourist, taking in the sights and sounds of its diverse landscapes, cultural experiences and tourist destinations You may be granted a visitor visa for up to 3, 6 or 12 months for this purpose. To be eligible, you must meet the visitor visa requirements including a genuine temporary entrant requirement, which means you must demonstrate that you have a genuine intention to stay temporarily in Australia for the purpose for which the visa is granted, having regard to the prescribed criteria.
According to immigration policy, a Visitor visa under the Tourist stream may be an option for student visa holders who have completed their studies and who wish to travel around Australia. In such cases, a visa of up to 6 months (or more, if appropriate) may be granted if the applicant:
- is not subject to a ‘No Further Stay’ condition on their current visa;
- meets the valid visa application lodgement and grant criteria for a visitor visa in the tourist stream;
- is not intending to commence a registered course of study; and
- is not intending to continue or complete a registered course in which the applicant is enrolled.
In assessing such applications, the Department will consider whether the applicant:
- has sufficient funds to travel (note that you are not permitted to work on a tourist stream visa, althiugh work rights can be granted by the Department in compelling and compassionate circumstances);
- has complied with the conditions of their student visa;
- meets the genuine temporary stay requirement. Here, the Department will consider whether the applicant has been studying full-time for several years, since entering Australia, with little opportunity to engage in tourism activities.
Under immigration policy, a visitor visa may be granted in Australia if the applicant is not engaging in further study and seeks to remain in Australia to:
- attend a graduation ceremony;
- re-sit failed exams/tests (not including an English language test); or
- finalise written assignments or a thesis from their final semester of study on a Student visa (that is, if they are no longer enrolled).
But what if you are considering a further stay in Australia, with a view to longer term or permanent residence? In such circumstances, you will need to carefully think about your migration goals in Australia to determine a pathway to achieve those goals. This might involve applying for a Subclass 485 Temporary Graduate visa, for example, a popular next step for many student visa holders. Other potential options may be a Skilled or Partner visa, whether that be your next step, or as part of a longer term plan. This will depend on your own personal circumstances, goals and needs.It is critical that you make the right decision for you by ensuring that you are fully informed about your options, so that you can decide on the best path to take.
If you are thinking about taking this step, ensure that you arm yourself with the correct and most up-to-date information before embarking on this journey. Making a mistake can have serious ramifications for your future visa options in Australia. We recommend speaking with a migration professional who can assist you by assessing your options and clearly explaining them to you, and if you choose, they can act on your behalf in your migration matter. For up to date advice on your visa options, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration service.
3. Complete Further Study
You may like to stay on in Australia to complete further studies, or to gain a higher qualification (such as progressing from a bachelor degree to an honours year, or a masters degree, for example). By continuing your studies, you can maximise your time in Australia by gaining more advanced qualifications and skills, thereby leading to potentially improved employment prospects later down the track once you have completed your studies.
You may choose to continue studying at your current educational institution, or move to different one. You might even decide to move to another state or territory in Australia to try a new experience.
If you have been studying in Australia and your course is about to finish, to continue onto further study, you will need to apply for a new Student visa.
All student visa applicants must meet the prescribed requirements, whether it be your first, or a subsequent student visa application.
But certain aspects of the application may face greater scrutiny if you are applying to stay on in Australia to continue studying, as the Department seeks to ensure that the program is not being used for non-genuine reasons.
Therefore, be mindful that applying for a second or further student visa can raise some red flags for the Department. There are certain aspects they will look for and if they believe the applicant is using the student visa for non-genuine reasons to stay in Australia permanently (that is, not for the purpose of study), they will refuse.
To qualify for a student visa, a key requirement is to demonstrate that you are seeking to enter Australia for the purpose of study, and that you will abide by the conditions of your student visa.
And one of the most important aspects of a student visa application is the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement. It is this aspect which tends to trap most students. It means that you must satisfy the Department that you are a genuine student and that you plan to return home after your study. In other words, you are here temporarily.
To meet this requirement, you must demonstrate that you intend to reside in Australia temporarily and to comply with the conditions on your student visa. As part of your application, you will need to provide a personal statement and supporting documentation to demonstrate that you meet the GTE criteria.
Note that as part of our student visa services, we address the genuineness question with all our student visa applications by including submissions accompanying all applications as well as meeting any specific concerns that we identify after our consultation with the client. Contact us to find out how we can help you with your visa application, and to reach your migration goals in Australia.
Lets now take a closer look at the GTE criterion, being one of the key requirements for a student visa extension in Australia.
Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) Requirement
One of the most important student visa grant criteria is that you must be a genuine applicant for entry and stay as a student because you:
- intend genuinely to stay in Australia temporarily, having regard to your circumstances and immigration history and any other relevant matter;
- intend to comply with any conditions subject to which the visa is granted, having regard to your record of compliance with any condition of a visa that you previously held, and your stated intention to comply with any conditions to which the visa may be subject; and
- any other relevant matter.
As noted, the intention to genuinely stay in Australia temporarily is referred to as the GTE requirement.
In assessing whether you meet this criterion, the Department will consider the following factors:
- the circumstances in your home country;
- your potential circumstances in Australia;
- the value of the course to your future;
- your immigration history;
- other relevant matters.
Relevant factors are also considered in the case of minors who are applying for a student visa.
Lets now take a look at these factors more closely and how they are applied.
Circumstances In Your Home Country
This aspect examines the reasons for not undertaking studies in your home country or region, and whether your economic situation, personal ties and/or military service commitments in your home country would support a temporary stay in Australia. It also considers whether there is any civil or military unrest in your home country which may not support a temporary stay in Australia.
The Department may scrutinise your application more closely if:
- there are a wide variety of similar courses available in your home country/region;
- the income earned in your home country is much lower than the cost of living in Australia or there are high rates of unemployment in your home country;
- there are military service commitments that may affect your right or willingness to return to your home country. The Department may examine whether this aspect is leading in your seeking to remain in Australia indefinitely;
- The political or geographical circumstances (such as the climate change related issues) in your home country would indicate that you may not want to return there,
- your have no employment, community or family ties in your home country.
These circumstances could be seen by the Department as an incentive for your to to remain in Australia indefinitely, however note that all your circumstances in total must be considered (i.e. not each isolated factor on its own).
Your Potential Circumstances In Australia
Here, the Department will examine the incentives that you may have to remain in Australia, and your knowledge of living in Australia.
As part of its assessment of this criterion, the Department will consider whether the student visa is being used to maintain ongoing residency in Australia. Your immigration history and study history are relevant to this factor. More scrutiny will be applied if you:
- have spent long periods outside Australia;
- did not complete courses; and/or
- are studying unrelated topics.
The Value Of The Course To Your Future
The Department will assess whether the course that your are seeking to complete is relevant and appropriate to your current employment and education background. It will also examine your future employment or career prospects.
The proposed study needs to be relevant to your past education or employment, i.e. there should be a clear progression.
If you are seeking to undertake a course that is inconsistent with your educational and employment background, such as a course that is unrelated to your education and employment background and which is unconnected to your future plans, more scrutiny will be applied by the Department. Noting however that it does recognise that reasonable changes to career or study plans are acceptable and should not negatively impact on your GTE assessment; your motivation behind the choice of course is an important aspect to consider.
The Department will consider whether the course will improve your employment prospects in their home country. Further scrutiny will likely be applied if the course does not progress towards improving employment prospects, such as if you are pursuing a course, or series of courses, that have little value in terms of improving your employment prospects, or undertaking courses as a hobby or out of interest and not to improve employment prospects.
Your Immigration History
Under this criterion, the Department will examine whether there is anything in your immigration history that would not support an intended temporary stay in Australia. An indication of this could include:
- your compliance with previous visa conditions;
- if you have undertaken a series of short, inexpensive courses which are designed to prolong your stay in Australia (such as if a course is structured to include only short term periods of study and the maximum allowed break between study periods);
- if you have been in Australia for extensive periods either without having successfully completed a qualification, or if you have changed education providers several times and have failed to complete a course of study;
- if you have maintained ongoing residence in Australia on a range of short term temporary visas;
- if you have a history of visa refusal/s, or non-compliance with immigration requirements in another country.
Other Relevant Matters
The Department will consider whether there are any other matters that are relevant to your intentions for a temporary stay in Australia.
Under this aspect, the Department can essentially consider any matter/information which comes before it (which may be favourable or unfavourable to you as the applicant) in determining whether you meet the GTE requirement.
Be aware that the Department will assess all the above factors and weigh all the circumstances of your case in making a determination as to whether you are a genuine temporary entrant.
Now that we have taken a close look at the GTE, one of the key requirements for a student visa, lets examine how to extend a student visa by taking a look at what other criteria must be met when applying for a new student visa.
How To Apply For A New Student Visa
The key requirements for a student visa extension in Australia include:
- you must be enrolled in a course of study and provide evidence with your student visa application. To do so, you must be enrolled in a full time course that is registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) and provide a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) as evidence of this to the Department;
- you must have adequate health insurance, which means extending your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) to cover your period of stay in Australia on your new student visa (note that student visa holders from certain countries do not require OSHC if they are subject to prescribed arrangements for health insurance (this applies to Norwegian, Swedish and Belgian students). This applies to all accompanying dependent family members on your student visa; and
- Have enough money for your stay – you must declare in your application that you will have genuine access to funds to meet costs and expenses for yourself, and for any accompanying family members, for the duration of your expected stay in Australia. Minimum amounts are prescribed.
Other requirements for a student visa extension in Australia include English language, health and character criteria, and you will need to provide supporting documents to demonstrate that you meet them with your application.
What Is The Cost To Apply For A Student Visa?
The student visa extension fee is $620 for the primary applicant, payable at the time of application lodgement.
The fee for a dependent applicant is $460 if they are aged 18 or over.
The fee for a dependent applicant who is aged under 18 is $150.
As you can see from the above discussion, extending a student visa in Australia can be quite a tricky process. Indeed student visas in general can be complex, whether it be your first, or a subsequent student visa application. You need to have a good understanding of the Migration law and regulations to really have a handle of what you need to do and whether you qualify. Building up this knowledge takes years of training and experience. And migration professionals who work in the industry, day in, day out, know all the ins and outs of what needs to be submitted to the Department to really give yourself a good chance of a sucessful outcome.
If you need a student visa, get a professional to do it for you. Contact us to schedule a consultation and make sure your immigration status is in good hands. We will carefully explain the student visa extension process and your eligibility for a student, or other type of visa.
Changes To Student Visas Due To COVID-19
A number of changes have been introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to assist visa holders who are affected by travel restrictions and other operational disruptions.
Visa Application Fee Waiver
For students who held a student visa on or after 1 February 2020 and who have been unable to complete their course within the original visa validity period due to the impacts of COVID-19, a fee waiver is available when submitting a further student visa application to complete study. Access to this concession includes students who:
- deferred study as they were unable to enter Australia due to travel restrictions;
- were forced to reduce to a part-time study load; and
- were unable to complete their work-based training or placements.
This concession is not available to students who are applying for a new student visa due to ordinary reasons (including due to failing a course or a unit of study, deferred study for personal reasons or a voluntarily reduced study load.)
To access this concession, eligible applicants need to apply for a student visa and complete a Form 1545 COVID-19 Impacted Students from their education provider.
Be aware that a bridging visa will not automatically be issued in this circumstances (as the fee exemption must be checked first).
Also not that the fee waiver is not available to students who have already applied for a Student visa. Only new applications will be eligible to have the application fee waived.
Get More Information
To learn more about extending a student visa in Australia and student visas more generally, please refer to our articles below.
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Australia’s migration laws are complex, and each case is different. We recommend that you seek professional advice if you are interested in extending a student visa in Australia, as being fully informed will give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome on your case. A migration professional can help you to do this.
For up to date advice on the student visa and the student visa extension process, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration service providing advice on student visas.
Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – COVID-19 and the border – Student and Temporary Graduate Visas – Staying in Australia – I have a temporary visa – Student and Temporary Graduate Visas