Visas and Entry requirements
No matter where you are studying, you will have to make sure that you secure a student visa in order to study in the country. Australia is no different. Even though their immigration program is much more lenient than countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, there are still a number of processes that you must go through in order to study in Australia for any period of time.
Student Visa Options
If you are applying for a student visa in Australia, there are six different types of visas for you to choose from if you are going for tertiary education (there are three more available for primary and secondary school students).
- English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) Visa. If you are planning on taking English courses that will not result in a degree, this is the visa that you need to apply for. You will also apply for this visa if you are taking English courses that lead to a certificate I through IV (as explained in our section on undergraduate education).
- Vocational Education and Training (VET) Visa. If you are not coming to Australia in order to take intensive English Language Course (like through ELICOS), but you are earning a vocational degree of some sort, then you will need to obtain a VET visa. VET visas are for those obtaining Certificates I, II, III, IV and those who are obtaining vocational diplomas, vocational advanced diplomas, vocational graduate certificates, or vocational graduate diplomas.
- Higher Education Visa. If you are earning any type of degree in an academic field, (anywhere from academic levels 5 to 9 according to the Australian Qualifications Framework), then you will apply for a higher education degree. This is not the visa to apply for if you are pursuing a Master’s research degree.
- Postgraduate Research Visa. If you are earning a Master’s research degree or a doctoral degree of any type, then you must apply for one of these visas. Your university will help you determine if your Master’s is by coursework or by research.
- Non-award Visa. If you are looking to come to Australia for a semester or you are just taking classes while residing in Australia without pursuing a degree, then you will apply for a non-award visa.
- AusAID and Defense. These visas are for those who are sponsored by the AusAID or the Australian Department of Defense. These sponsored visas allow you to go for any type of full time degree (associates through doctorate).
Now that you’ve determined which visa you have to apply for, there are two different ways that your application for a student visa may be processed. You will most likely be placed in an Assessment level and have to go through a particular process based on the level you are in, but you may also be eligible to go through what is called a streamlined student visa process. We will discuss the streamlined process more in the next section of this page.
Instead of having a general student visa process, there are several factors that go into your student visa process, which is referred to as your assessment level. The use of the assessment level is to help get student visa applications in and visas out as quickly as possible. It also helps to establish consistency in awarding student visas. Because there are students that go to Australia from over 200 countries, the Assessment Levels help the Australian government to determine the immigration risk for certain groups.
There are currently five Assessment Levels in the student visa requirements. These Assessment Levels are based on your country of origin, your field of study, the university you are studying at, and what level of education you are studying (based on the AQF standards). The higher the Assessment Level you are placed in, the more requirements that you have before you can obtain a student visa. The Assessment Level of each country is based on past compliance with immigration standards and other indicators that determine risk.
If you would like to see a list of what countries fall under which Assessment Levels, take a look at the Assessment Levels PDF offered by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
Streamlined Student Visa Processing
There are a variety of universities that participate in this program. If the university that you are attending participates, then the Australian government will treat you as if you are a lower immigration risk, no matter what country you are coming to Australia from. If you are determined to be eligible for streamlining, then you will not have to deal with any of the requirements of the Assessment Levels because you will not be assigned one.
Here are the requirements of Streamlined Student Visa Processing as of 2013:
- You must have a Confirmation of Enrollment at a participating university. This confirmation can be for a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, Doctoral degree, or a non-award university or study abroad program.
- If you are looking to enroll in a course package, every one of your preliminary courses has to be at the university that is participating in the streamlined visa processing process or a business partner of the university provider.
Streamlined Student Visa Processing takes a lot less time and requires very little in terms of information that you have to provide to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
Proof of Financial Resources
In order to be eligible for a student visa and to be allowed access into Australia, you must go through a process that involves a review of your financial resources. You will need to have a minimum amount of income in order to study in Australia and to guarantee that your finances will be able to be covered while staying in the country. More information about this can be found on the Proof of Financial Resources page.
If you have any other questions about student visa requirements, please check out the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s student information page at http://www.immi.gov.au/students/. All of the information that you will need for your visa and entry requirements can be found there. Your international studies office at your university can also help you navigate through any requirements that you may have to meet before you can attend the university.