A student visa allows international students to pursue an education in a country of their choice. Most countries today offer student visas to interested candidates who are looking to complete full-time courses, professional training, and other similar educational options. If you are considering to apply for a student visa to Australia, here are a few things that you must be aware about.
Student Visa – Who needs one?
Student visas for Australia are primarily for students who are looking to study full-time in universities or institutes. This includes secondary exchange students, Ph.D. students, Australian Department of Defence or Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) approved students.
The visa entitles you to stay for a period of 5 years in the line of your enrolment in Australia and attend full-time courses in any recognized educational institution.
Additionally, student visas also allow you to work in Australia with certain restrictions that can help pay for your tuition and other expenses.
How do you apply?
If you are considering to apply for a student visa, you can do so online through their official website (click here) either while you are in or outside Australia. Unless you are exempt from the visa fees, it normally costs AUD620. The processing time can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on the course that you are applying for. While the visa is valid, you can travel and return to Australia multiple times without any restrictions.
Are you eligible?
Before applying for the student visa, there are a few eligibility criteria that you must meet including:
- You must be 16 years or older.
- You must arrange sufficient welfare arrangements for your stay in Australia if you are under 18 years of age.
- Must be proficient in the English language and pass the required assessments.
- Must have adequate health insurance and sufficient money to support your stay.
- Must meet character and physical health requirements.
- Must not have been refused any previous visas or applications.
- Must have to pay back all dues to the Australian government or arrange for it to be paid back.
- You cannot apply for an Australian student visa if you have Domestic Worker Diplomatic and Consular visas, Temporary work visa in the domestic worker stream, Primary holder of diplomatic visa, transit visa, or visitor visa.
For more information on your visa eligibility, you can visit the Australian Government’s home affairs website.
What do you need to know before applying?
Here are a few things that you should know before applying for an Australian Student visa:
- You can include family members in your application. Family members include spouses or a dependent child of you or your partner who has not turned 18 yet.
- Even if your family members are not traveling with you to Australia, you must still declare them in your visa application form. They can also apply at a later point of time as subsequent entrants.
- You might be exempt from paying the application fee if you are a student in the Defence or Foreign Affairs sector.
- You can work in Australia after your course begins for a maximum of 40 hours every fortnight.
- If you wish to stay longer in Australia after your visa is expired, you can consider applying for a new visa, a temporary graduate visa, a skilled recognition graduation visa, or a Visitor Visa. You can compare your options to find the right match that suits your requirements.
Can you work while holding a student visa?
When you travel to Australian on a student visa, you are entitled to take up any form of employment in the country. However, there are a few things that you should be aware of when taking up a new job:
- You cannot take up any form of employment in Australia before your enrolled courses start.
- Once your course starts, you cannot work for more than 40 hours every two weeks. However, if you are a postgraduate research student, you can work an unlimited number of hours during your studies if you maintain a full-time enrolment and complete your course within the stipulated time duration.
- You can only work more than 40 hours a fortnight when your course is not in session, or your course has mandated the work as part of the syllabus, or other similar exceptions.
- You can take up volunteer work outside of your 40 hours/ fortnight limit.
- You are entitled to access your superannuation funds either in Australia or after you depart from the country.
- You must continue to grant the criteria that satisfy the visa. If not, you might risk your visa being canceled and having to leave the country.
- It is your duty to pay taxes if applicable.
What kind of work can you take up under your student visa?
Student visa lets you work in Australia for a period of 40 hours every two weeks once your enrolled courses have begun. You can work in any field that constitutes as paid work. You are entitled to all the basic rights at work under the Australian Law including access to superannuation, leaves, wages, and much more. To know more about your workplace rights, you can visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
You can find employment opportunities through job search portals, career guidance, recruitment consultants, and other similar options. Spending time and effort to research before planning your travel can help you make the most of your time in Australia.
If you have taken up multiple courses during your stay in Australia, the gap between the two courses should not be more than 2 months.
Additionally, you can take up internship opportunities and volunteer jobs in Australia. Spouses or children of the visa holders can also take up employment while in Australia. However, they can start working only once the course begins for the primary visa holder. The secondary visa holder also has a work limitation of 40 hours every fortnight.
If you are a student visa holder, it is imperative that you periodically check if you satisfy the eligibility criteria in order to avoid visa cancellation.