Student Visas

Education is an essential element in modern society, and being the land of opportunity, you can rest assured that Australia has one of the greatest education systems in the world. There are many opportunities for potential students to pursue, whether that be the shorter term vocational studies or longer-term tertiary studies such as degrees and doctorates.

To simplify the visa process, the Australian government introduced the Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF) in 2016 which has consolidated the multiple subclasses of student visas into one, simple to understand Student (Subclass 500) Visa.

Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF)

Under the new SSVF framework, the student’s chosen education provider and the country of citizenship held will determine their Risk Rating (between 1-3), which then determines the level of English language and financial requirements they need to pass to obtain a visa. Your visa will be assessed under the streamlined or regular assessment depending on the Risk Rating you obtain. The three risk ratings are highlighted below:


Risk Rating 1 applications are assessed as streamlined applications, regardless of the country of passport. This is because the education provider is classified as having a Risk Rating of 1. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will not require any evidence of minimum English language levels, and will only require a declaration of financial capacity at the time of application. It is up to the college or universities discretion to ask for further information before providing you a place at their institution.


Risk Rating 2 applications may also be streamlined however both the Risk Rating of the provider AND the country of passport is assessed in this. For example, if the education provider has a Risk Rating of 1 however the applicant is from a high-risk country, their application will most likely be assessed regularly and they will have to provide English and financial capacity evidence.


Risk Rating 3 applications are assessed regularly on most occasions, thus requiring English and financial capacity evidence.

Student (Subclass 500) Visa

The Student (Subclass 500) Visa allows potential students to remain in Australia to study full time in a recognized educational institution. The length of stay for this visa is up to five years, depending on the type of educational program chosen.

In order to apply for this visa, you must:

Be at least six years of age;

Be accepted to study full-time at an educational institution in Australia;

Organise appropriate welfare arrangements for the duration of your intended stay in Australia if you are under 18 years of age;

Satisfy the Genuine Temporary Entrant criteria which assures the government you have a genuine intention to stay in Australia temporarily;

Meet the health and character requirements;

Arrange adequate private health insurance (Overseas Student Health Cover);

Arrange sufficient funds to support your stay in Australia (factoring in course fees, travel and living costs);

You may additionally need to meet English Language Requirements (usually equivalent to IELTs Band 5) if you are not on the list of exempt individuals. Please check the Document Checklist Tool to find out further evidence you may need to provide for your specific visa.

To evidence your enrolment into an Australian educational institution, you must show that you are enrolled into a course of study that is registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). If you are applying from outside Australia, you must include a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) for each intended course of study with your visa application. If you are in Australia, you can apply with one or more letters of offer but you must provide the CoE/s to be granted the visa.

To evidence your financial capacity (if required), you will need to provide one of the following:

Evidence of funds to cover travel to Australia and 12 months’ living costs and the course and (for school aged dependents) schooling costs for the student and accompanying family members; or

Evidence that you meet the annual income requirement; or An Acceptance Advice of Secondary Exchange Students (AASES) form (secondary exchange students only); or

A letter of support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or Department of Defence.

Subsequent entrants – family members who apply after the primary applicant has been granted their visa must also provide documentary evidence of financial capacity. This must be one of the options mentioned above.

To evidence that you are a Genuine Temporary Entrant at the time of application, you may provide a written statement and evidence of previous studies or evidence of your current employment. Factors that will be assessed include (but are not limited to):

Your personal circumstances in your home country;

Your potential circumstances in Australia;

The value of the course to your future;

Whether the course matches your employment and education history;

Your migration history;

Your future intentions.

If you are successful at obtaining this visa, you may:

Stay in Australia for the duration of your course;

Lodge a new visa application before your existing visa expires (only if you do not have the ‘No Further Stay’ condition 8534 or 8535 on your visa);

Apply for packaged courses (applying for two or more courses on your Student Visa where there is clear progression from one course to another);

Be able to obtain limited working rights.

Parents, legal guardians or relatives of students may be able to apply for a Student Guardian Visa (Subclass 590) which allows them to stay in Australia as the guardian of an international student younger than 18 years of age studying in Australia on a student visa. For further information on this visa, please do not hesitate to contact one of our registered migration agents.

Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) Visa

The Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) Visa is a temporary visa that allows international students to live, study and work in Australia temporarily after they have completed two academic years of study in Australia. The two streams in this visa are the Graduate Work and Post Study Work streams.

To successfully apply for this visa, you must meet the following criteria:

Be at least 18 years of age and under 50 years of age;

Hold an eligible visa;

Meet the English language requirement;

Meet the Australian study requirement (minimum of 92 weeks in a CRICOS registered course) in the last six months;

Meet health and character requirements and have adequate health insurance;

Have a recent qualification in a CRICOS-registered course;

Meet additional requirements of the relevant stream.

Graduate Work Stream

The Graduate Work Stream is suited to international students who graduate with skills and qualifications that are related to an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL). They are entitled to a visa for up to 18 months. In additional to the general requirements, you must:

Ensure your visa application included evidence that you had applied for a skills assessment for your nominated skilled occupation by a relevant assessing authority;

Ensure your skills have been assessed by a relevant assessing authority as suitable for your nominated skilled occupation;

Ensure each degree, diploma or trade qualification used to meet the Australian study requirement is closely related to your nominated skilled occupation.

Post-Study Work Stream

The Post-Study Work Stream is suited to those international students who graduate with a higher education degree from an Australian education provider, regardless of their field of study. They are entitled to a visa for up to four years depending on their qualifications. In additional to the general requirements, you must:

Have applied for, and were granted, your first student visa to Australia on or after 5 November 2011;

Hold an eligible qualification;

Ensure your qualification was conferred or awarded by an Australian university or non-university education provider that is registered on the Commonwealth Register of Courses and Institutions for Overseas Students (CRICOS) and that provider offers courses at degree level and above;

Ensure that your study for the qualification(s) satisfied the Australian study requirement in the past six months.

An important thing to note here is that the length of the Post Study Work Stream visa depends on the highest qualification you used to apply for this visa:

Bachelor Degree, Bachelor Degree with Honours, Masters by Coursework Degree or Masters (extended) Degree – your visa is valid for two years

Masters by Research Degree– your visa is valid for three years

Doctoral Degree – your visa is valid for four years.

Successful applicants and holders of a Skilled Regional (Subclass 485) Visa can remain in Australia temporarily after they have finished their studies. This will allow you and your eligible family members to travel work and study for the duration of the visa.

Australian Immigration Law is complex and constantly changing. For the latest information on this visa, please call our Sydney office on (02) 8625 3505 or get in contact with one of our registered migration agents for further advice.