COVID-19: Update for Student Visa Holders

COVID-19: Update for Student Visa Holders

The Australian Government is currently looking to make a number of changes that will impact Student (subclass 500) Visa holders.

The changes seek to protect international students in Australia, with a view to ensure that Student Visa holders will not be worse-off due to COVID-19. The changes also hope to ensure that Australia remains a competitive study destination for international students, largely due to the economic benefit to Australia.

Student Visa changes due to COVID-19

In summary, the changes will be as follows:

  1. The Department of Home Affairs will continue processing and granting Student Visas lodged offshore, meaning that as soon as the Australian border re-opens, international students will have already had their visas granted, and can get ready to travel sooner.
  2. If a Student Visa holder couldn’t complete their study within the original visa validity period as a result of COVID-19, international students can lodge another Student Visa application without having to pay further charges to the Department of Home Affairs.
  3. If a Student Visa holder is studying online outside Australia as a result of COVID-19, this could count towards any ‘Australian study’ requirement for a future post-study work visa application.
  4. Student Visa graduates will be able to apply offshore for a post-study work visa if they were not able to return to Australia due to COVID-19, which previously was not possible.
  5. International students will be given an extended period to provide the results of their English language test in circumstances where COVID-19 has limited their ability to access these testing services.

The proposed changes will not only benefit international students who may have been disadvantaged due to COVID-19, but will also support and boost the education sector, which currently supports approximately 250,000 Australian jobs.

Are the changes in effect?

These changes have not yet been implemented as they will require legislative change. A number of these changes will be most effective once international borders reopen. However, while there is currently no indication as to when this will occur, with the proposed changes being designed to reassure and support international students a movement towards implementing the proposed changes should follow within the near future.

How can we help?

If you are an international student and are unsure of your position, or need further guidance, please do not hesitate to contact our team of experienced immigration lawyers, and we can organise a consultation.