If you are an international student looking to study in Australia, there are a number of steps you’ll need to take in order to successfully apply for a Student visa. 

The Student visa application steps can look deceptively simple but, there are some key steps that can be easily overlooked. Craddock Murray Neumann Lawyers can assist you with your Student visa application and the student visa application process to ensure that your application meets the requirements of the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) the first time. 

Here is a brief overview of what you can expect if you are applying for an Australian Student visa: 

Student visa requirements for studying in Australia: the subclass 500 Student visa

To become a university or school student in Australia, you need to apply for a subclass 500 Student visa.

The Student visa allows you to stay up to 5 years, depending on the type of course you intend to undertake and its length. 

Student visa application fee: What does a subclass 500 Student visa cost?

In 2022 the Department’s subclass 500 Student visa application charge is currently $650, unless you previously held a Student visa from 1 February 2020 but could not complete your studies because of the COVID-19 global pandemic in which case no visa application charge is payable.

What are the Australian Student visa eligibility requirements?

To be eligible for a Student visa subclass 500, you must:

  • already be enrolled in a registered course of study in Australia and provide evidence of your enrolment with your application;
  • be at least 6 years old if you a school student;
  • hold ‘Overseas Student Health Cover’ (OSHC) unless exempt;
  • prove that you have a ‘welfare arrangement’ if under you are under 18;
  • hold an ‘eligible substantive visa’ if you are already in Australia;
  • meet the English language requirements unless you are coming to Australia to study a registered English language course or are otherwise exempt;
  • have sufficient funds for your stay in Australia; 
  • be a genuine temporary entrant; 
  • meet the character and health requirements; and 
  • have no outstanding debts to the Australian Government; or if you do have a debt, have arranged to pay it back.

Student visa subclass 500 requirements explained

What are the exemptions from Overseas Student Health Cover student visa requirements?

You are exempt from holding OSHC if you are an international student from Belgium (who is covered under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia); Norway (if you are covered by the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme); or Sweden (if you are covered by Kammarkollegiet). 

What is a ’Welfare Arrangement’ for student visa applicants under 18?

If you are under 18 and seeking an Australian student visa, you need to organise a ‘welfare arrangements’ under one of these 4 options:

  • Nominate a student guardian. This can be a parent, legal custodian or relative over 21 years of age. You’ll need to complete a Form 157N, get your guardian to sign it, and then attach it to your application. Your guardian must have a visa to stay in Australia for the duration of your Student visa, which can be a subclass 590 Student Guardian visa (the application should be lodged at the same time as your Student visa) or another type of Australian visa. 
  • Arrange a ‘Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare’ (CAAW). You’ll need to discuss this with you education provider, and once they approve the arrangements, they will issue a CAAW themselves and advice the Depart of Home Affairs of the arrangements.
  • Attach a signed CAAW and ‘Accepted Advice of Secondary Exchange Student’ (AASES) form if you are a secondary exchange student.
  • If you are a Foreign Affairs or Defence Student, you’ll need approval of your welfare arrangements from the relevant Minister.

How to apply for a Student visa subclass 500 if you’re already in Australia

If you are already in Australia, you need to hold an ‘eligible substantive visa’. 

A substantive visa is anything other than a Bridging visa (as well as certain justice-related visas, such as a Criminal Justice Visa). 

At the time you apply for your Student visa while in Australia, if you do not hold a substantive visa, your last substantive visa must have been a Student visa, special purpose visa or a secondary Subclass 995 Diplomatic visa, and you must make your Student visa application within 28 days after the cessation of your substantive visa.

Visa subclasses excluded from Student visa subclass 500

It is important to note that the Department also explicitly excludes holders of the following visa subclasses from applying for a student subclass 500 visa:

  • 426 Domestic Worker (Temporary) – Diplomatic or Consular visa
  • 403 Temporary Work International Relations visa (Domestic Worker – Diplomatic or Consular – stream)
  • 995 Diplomatic visa (primary visa holder only – other family members can apply)
  • 771 Transit visa 
  • 600 (Sponsored Family or Approved Destination Stream).

The Department of Home Affairs also excludes TPV (Subclass 785 Temporary Protection visa) and Subclass 790 Safe Haven Enterprise visa  (SHEV) holders from applying for other substantive visas including the student visa. However, a SHEV visa holder may apply for a student visa if they meet certain “pathway requirements”.

What does an Australian Student visa allow you to do?

The Student visa allows you to:

    • participate in an eligible course of study;
    • bring family members to Australia with you; and
  • work unlimited hours in any week.

Which family members are eligible to come to Australia under a Student visa?

The family members that a student visa will usually allow you to bring are your “immediate family members” or “dependents”. These are your:

  • spouse/de facto partner (if you have been living together for a minimum of 12 months)
  • your or your spouse/de facto partner’s dependent children under 18 years of age.

How many hours a week can I work if I have an Australian Student visa?

Whilst most Student visas previously contained the restriction that the visa holder could only work 40 hours a fortnight (20 hours a week), during COVID-19, the Australian government removed this restriction on working hours. 

While this condition was due to be reviewed in April 2022, at the time of writing restrictions on student visa holder working hours has currently not been changed. 

Other Things You Should Know about Australian Student visa applications

What happens to my Australian student visa if I change my course of study?

It also is crucial to know that if you change your course of study after your Student visa is granted, if the level of the new course is lower than the course for which you were granted your Student visa, for example, if you were granted a Student visa on the basis of studying a Bachelor degree course and later on you decide to study a Diploma or Certificate level course, you must apply for a new Student visa regardless of the expiry date of your existing Student visa. 

How long does it take to process a student visa application?

Processing times for a Student visa application vary depending on where you are applying from (inside or outside of Australia), and what “stream” you are applying for which relates to the level of your chosen course.

Are there any other types of Australian student visas?

Other types of related visas also exist that may be more suitable for your situation including:

  • Student Guardian visa (subclass 590) allows a person to provide care and support for a Student visa holder who is under the age of 18 (and in special circumstances older than 18).
  • Training visa (subclass 407) is designed for people to take part in ‘workplace-based occupational training activities to improve your skills for your job, area of tertiary study, field of expertise or in a professional development training program’. 

Where to get help for your Australian Student visa application

Australian immigration law is complex and constantly evolving. In particular student visa applications can appear deceptively simple, yet have traps that applicants can inadvertently fall into which can delay granting of your student visa.

A great deal of time, expense and angst can be saved in your Australian student visa application process by engaging an experienced immigration lawyer.  Guidance from a lawyer can be invaluable in ensuring any information prepared from the start of the visa process through to the decision on the application is consistent and sufficiently supported by the right kinds of evidence.  

We can give you the comfort that we will give you the very best chance of success in obtaining an Australian student visa so you can start your studies on time and with all the paperwork in place. 

For a confidential discussion about your student visa options or any other immigration matter, please contact our team on 1300 123 529, or via email at visas@craddock.com.au. Our team of friendly and experienced immigration lawyers are at the ready to assist. 

Please note that this page states the law as at July 2022. Australian immigration law is complex and changes frequently, and the law in relation to Student visas may have been changed since we prepared this page. 

As immigration lawyers well-versed in Australian immigration law including not only the legal aspects, but the practical and process side, Craddock Murray Neumann’s Immigration Law team can help. Our team is available to advise on your eligibility to come to Australia to study as well as future pathways to Australian permanent residency. Our lawyers can assist and guide you with every step of your student visa application while explaining the process. For a confidential discussion about your Australian student visa application or any other immigration matter, please contact our team on 1300 123 529, or via email at visas@craddock.com.au.

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