Immigration has released a joint media statement outlining the arrangements to be put in place for student visa applicants and student visa holders who have been impacted by the COVID-19 travel restrictions. The government will recommence granting student visas, allowing travel to Australia as soon as borders reopen.

The changes, announced by acting immigration minister Alan Tudge on Monday (20/07/2020) have been pressured by the Universities sector and have been recognised as crucial to save one of Australia’s most prolific industry.

Finally Mr. Tudge has openly recognised that “international students are extremely important to Australia and our economy, contributing $40 billion annually and supporting 250,000 jobs. Many also go on to become great Australian citizens”; a big change from the controversial announcement originally made at the beginning of the pandemic by Mr Morrision when he said “it’s time to go home”.

Please note we are still waiting on the legislative changes which will probably be implemented soon.

The release notes five visa changes:

  1. Grants of student visas in all locations lodged outside Australia will recommence, so visa holders will be ready to travel when borders reopen; ALL STUDENT VISA OFFSHORE WILL NOW BE PROCESSED!
  2. Free VACs for international students who lodge further student visa applications, if they were unable to complete their studies within their original visa validity due to COVID-19; NO FURTHER FEES TO EXTEND VISA IF YOU COULD
  3. Current student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to COVID-19 will be have that study counted towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa; AUSTRALIAN STUDY REQUIREMENT MET EVEN
  4. Graduates who held a student visa will be eligible to apply for a post-study work
    visa outside Australia, if they are unable to return due to COVID-19; 485 VISA EVEN IF OFFSHORE;
  5. Additional time will be given for applicants to provide English language results where COVID-19 has disrupted access to these services;

Australian universities face an estimated $16bn black hole due to a massive drop-off in international student numbers, compounded by warnings from China against its citizens coming to Australia to study. Mr Tudge said the government would change student visa arrangements to “ensure Australia remains a priority destination for international students as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Please note that at this stage the borders are still closed, so even if the student visa lodged offshore will be granted, the student will only be able to study online, until further notice.

Universities Australia’s chief executive, Catriona Jackson, said she welcomed “sensible changes to visa arrangements for those currently enrolled” but cautioned “we need to understand what the changes mean for prospective students”. In fact as you can see in the official announcement they only discuss current student visa holders being able to lodge 485 visa even if offshore, without further specifying if this will apply to new student visa holders as well.

Find out more here:
Media release LINK

Alessia Comandini
Lawyer and Migration Agent ( 1684766)

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