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How to secure a student visa for Australia

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Student Visa: Australia has become among the most-sought-after study abroad destinations for international students, and it is hardly surprising why.

The country is not only home to some of the world’s best universities, it is also a major tourist draw with sun-kissed coastlines that stretch for miles on end and a natural landscape that’s almost as diverse as its people.

So if you’re thinking about applying to university for a full-time course in the Land Down Under, good on ya, we say! It’s a decision you’re not likely to regret.

But as is customary anywhere you go, some planning before your study abroad adventure is in store. Here we’ve put together a comprehensive how-to guide on how to secure your Australian student visa.

Obtain a CoE

Once you have successfully enrolled in a course registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS), you will need to obtain a Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) or a letter of offer stating you have been accepted into a programme.

You will need this when applying for your student visa.

Meet the GTE requirement

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs notes on its website that to meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement, visa applicants must show they are coming to Australia temporarily to study or to look after a person who is studying.

The GTE is not intended to exclude students who, after studying in Australia, develop skills Australia needs and who then go on to apply for permanent residence (PR).

You will need to write a personal statement in English addressing the GTE requirement. However, you can write your statement in your native language and submit a translated copy with your application if you are not comfortable writing it in English.

It is recommended that you provide evidence for the information contained in your written statement.

How can I apply for my student visa?

International students must apply for the Student Visa (Subclass 500) online. You can be in or outside Australia when you apply.

You will be informed about your visa outcome via email.

If you have not been granted a visa, the email will state why you were refused and whether you have a right to a review of the decision.

What documents do I need?

Typically, you will need the following documents:

  • A Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) or a letter of offer stating you have been accepted into a programme
  • Proof you meet the health requirements
  • Proof you meet the character requirements (e.g. no criminal records)
  • Your GTE statement
  • Proof of health insurance: Students must purchase the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) from an approved Australian health insurance provider. Exceptions apply to Norwegian students who are covered by the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, Swedish students covered by Kammarkollegiet, and Belgian students covered under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia.
  • Proof of English proficiency
  • Proof you have sufficient funds to pay for your stay in Australia
  • A valid passport
  • Recent passport-sized photographs
  • Proof you have paid your visa application fee
  • Academic documents (e.g. transcripts, etc.)

Quick Tip: Check the Department of Home Affair’s Document Checklist Tool to see what you will need.

How long does it take to process my application?

Processing times vary. Depending on your visa stream, it could take anywhere from four days to over two months for processing.

This process stretches on for longer if you provide incomplete or faulty information.

At the very minimum, you should apply for your visa six weeks before your course begins.

How much does it cost?

Your student visa can cost from AUD575 (USD$405), unless you are exempt.

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs has a nifty little method of helping you estimate how much your visa will cost

How long will my visa be valid for?

The validity of your student visa is based on the course you intend to study. However, the maximum length of stay for a student visa will generally not exceed five years.

Can I travel with a student visa?

Yes you can travel freely, both in and out of Australia, and return as many times as you want while your visa is valid.

Can I work with my student visa?

You can work up to 40 hours every two-week period once your course starts.

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