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Applying for an Australian Student Visa – the streamlined system one year on

Gillian Hunter

24 Jan 2018

Topics

  • Migration
studying on computer

Are you an overseas student who is planning on studying in Australia?
What do you need to do to successfully obtain a student visa for Australia?
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), introduced the Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF) which came into effect on 1 July 2016, in order to deal with the high volume of Student Visa applications. Gillian Hunter, Migration Agent and Lawyer, discusses the impact of the SSVF one year on.
Could the SSVF affect your student visa application?
The changes that occurred as a result of the SSVF can be summarised as:

  • Consolidation: as a prospective international student, you are required to apply for a single Student visa (subclass 500), regardless of your chosen institution of study. The previous student visa framework comprised 8 visa subclasses that were representative of various education sectors and tailored by a myriad of regulatory provisions;
  • Guardians: A new visa for guardians of international students has been introduced in the form of the Student Guardian visa (subclass 590);
  • Paperless: except in special circumstances, all student visa applications are required to be lodged online via ImmiAccount;
  • Increased charges: the Student Visa Application Charges (VAC) have increased to $560 for the primary applicant.
  • Threshold requirements: the requirements for eligibility have tightened across the board and an applicant must meet additional requirements in the application process for a student visa.

According to the DIBP the primary objective of the SSVF arrangements was to“provide eligible students of education providers that meet low immigration risk benchmarks with access to simpler and faster visa processing, while maintaining immigration integrity”.
But has the DIBP really delivered on this promise to expedite processing times for low-risk applications in a substantive way? Let’s look at three key things you need to know about the new Streamlined Student Visa process.

1.   Timing issues

Prior to implementation of the streamlining provisions, low-risk Student Visa applications were generally processed within 4 weeks (28 days). Currently, 90% of applications are processed between 1 and 3 months.
Initially, thousands of overseas students, predominantly from China, were caught up in the complexities of the new system, forcing many educational institutions to postpone course commencement.
More recent reports by DIBP suggest that there has been an improvement in finalised applications overall.
“From 1 January to March 2017, over 111,000 student visas were finalised. This was an increase of 18.9 per cent when compared to the number of student visas finalised in the same quarter in the previous year”
– Alice Maclean, Director of Student and Graduate Visas, DIBP

2.   Rates of refusals

What is not mentioned in Ms MacLean’s quote is that ‘finalised’ can include both successful visa applications and refusals of Student Visa applications, particularly, on the basis of the ‘Genuine Temporary Entrant’ requirement.
The issue may be that the same criteria is being applied to applications by applicants from countries that were previously deemed by DIBP as being ‘high’ risk (ie Nepal) and those from ‘low risk’ countries (ie England).  Under the previous framework, applications were treated differently depending on the nationality of the primary applicant.

 3.   Have you got funding?

One critical issue for overseas students hoping to study in Australia is the need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself. You will need to show that you have funds to cover the duration of your stay in Australia. You will also need to establish sufficient funds to meet your study, travel, living and general maintenance expenses (as well as those of your dependents).

What now?

It is important to know that the streamlined processing by the DIBP over the last 12 months has essentially provided more grounds for refusal.  Meanwhile, the threshold requirements for eligibility have increased across the board, making the visa much harder to access for the applicants themselves.
In short, a system that may once have been accessible to the layperson, has become much more complex.

Lodging a Student Visa application

Snedden Hall and Gallop Lawyers can assist you in lodging an application for a Student Visa. We understand the complexity of the DIBP system and can work with you and your unique circumstances to reduce the risk of a refusal by DIBP and to ensure a timely approach to your migration issue.

Next steps if you have been refused

If your student visa application has been refused, we can explain the process, the costs and the likely timing involved of the different options that are available to you including applying to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a merits review on your behalf.

How can Snedden Hall & Gallop’s migration team help you?

Our lawyers are registered migration agents and are members of the Migration Institute of Australia. They keep abreast of all migration law issues in Australia and can advise you on how these changes will affect your immigration status. Please contact us to discuss these developments and we can help you with your citizenship application by phone on (02) 6285 8000 or by email and you can see details of our migration team. Gillian is a Lawyer and a registered migration agent (MARN: 1686317; MIA member no: 17128).