From 1 July 2016, a number of changes to student visa applications will be introduced as part of the new Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF). We outline the key measures below.
- Reduction of student visa subclasses: All students will now apply for the same visa — student visa (subclass 500) — regardless of the qualification they choose to study. Family members of student visa holders will also apply for the student visa (subclass 500), while student guardians apply for the new student guardian visa (subclass 590). Students were previously required to apply for one of eight student visa subclasses, depending on the qualification level and sector in which they enrolled.
- New immigration risk framework: Students will be assessed on their immigration risk based on their country of citizenship and intended education provider, rather than the sector in which they choose to study. This assessment will be used to determine the amount of evidence, including evidence relating to financial capacity and English language proficiency, they need to provide with their application. Students with the lowest immigration risk will be eligible for streamlined evidentiary requirements, which means they will be able to meet financial and English language requirements by providing a declaration and Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE).
- Course transfers: Student visa (subclass 500) holders must maintain enrolment at the same Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) level for which they were granted a student visa. Students completing a doctoral degree who wish to transfer to a masters degree are exempt from this condition. If a student wishes to transfer to a lower qualification, they will need to apply for a new student visa.
- Packaging arrangements: Students will be able to package two or more courses together on a single student visa, provided there is progression from one course to the next. Education providers are able to package with other education providers if they have a commercial arrangement.
The changes will only affect students applying for a visa from 1 July 2016 — existing student visa holders will not be affected.