• Monday, April 22, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

5 key changes in Australia’s international student visa policy so far

Australia’s visa policy amendments for international students aim to boost education quality and student welfare, reinforcing its status as a leading higher education destination globally.

Implementing stricter controls on student visas, Australia will restrict post-study work rights for international students from the middle of this year. The move aims to prioritise educational use of visas rather than facilitating long-term residency, following a December policy shift to halve migrant intake after a record immigration of 510,000 in 2022-23.

Here are the 5 key changes in Australia’s international student visa policy so far, as announced by Australia’s Department of Home Affairs and Department of Education.

Increased proof of funds

The Australian government has mandated an uptick in the minimum savings necessary to secure a student visa. Since October 1, 2023, international students must now show savings totaling AUD$24,505 (US$15,943), marking a 17% increase from the prior requirement.

Extensive evaluation

Australian Student Visas now require passing the Genuine Student Test (GST), introduced by the government last November. This test aims to determine if applicants genuinely intend to study in Australia, replacing the previous Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement. The focus is on favoring those committed to studying rather than working, ensuring a contribution to the Australian economy. As a result, students pursuing lower-level credentials are more likely to face visa refusals.

Higher IELTS score

The minimum English language requirement for undergraduate programs has increased from IELTS 5.5 to IELTS 6.01.

For postgraduate programs, including master’s and doctoral degrees, the minimum English language requirement has been raised from IELTS 6.0 to IELTS 6.5

University ranking

Last December, the Australian Department of Home Affairs revealed a new system to rank universities according to their risk level. Universities are classified into three groups based on past instances of visa regulation violations by students.

Priority will be given to visa applications from international students applying to Group 1 universities. However, applicants to Groups 2 and 3 will face a more prolonged visa process, necessitating additional evidence of English proficiency and financial capability.

In response to this policy, several Australian universities have already taken steps this year, such as rescinding admission offers or urging withdrawal of applications, aiming to safeguard their reputation.

End of post-study work rights

Australia will modify its post-study work rights for international students starting mid-year, reducing the duration for which international graduates can stay in the country for work. The previous extensions, ranging from 4-6 years based on the level of study, will now revert to the original 2-3 years, as announced by the Australian Department of Education last month.