NewsAustralia Tightens Student Visa Rules: 4 Major Areas Affected

Australia Tightens Student Visa Rules: 4 Major Areas Affected

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Australia Tightens Student Visa Rules: 4 Major Areas Affected

The Australian government has further increased its scrutiny of international student applicants in an effort to ensure incoming students have “genuine” intentions to study (rather than work) and have sufficient English-language proficiency to succeed in their courses with Australian education providers.

Australia’s international student population reached 713,145 as of February 2024, a record high. However, immigration officials have become much more likely to reject new student visa applicants amid the surge. More than 50,000 international students had their visa applications rejected from November 2023 to February 2024. Many students – aware of the higher likelihood of being refused – are choosing to apply elsewhere. The Economic Times reports that there has been a “decrease in visa applications for the first time in over two years,” and Australian Education Department data show that student visa arrivals were down by 8 percentage points in January 2024 versus January 2023.

Australia has tightened visa rules for international students amid rising migration. The stricter regulations announced are part of efforts to manage international student influx.

Genuine Student Requirement

New Test Introduced to Judge Whether Prospective Students have “Genuine” Intentions.

The previously administered Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) test has been eliminated and in its stead is a “Genuine Student (GS)” requirement. This is in effect now and has been in place for all student applications lodged on or after 23 March 2024. This test, says the government, “asks students to answer questions about their study intentions and their economic circumstances, with a declaration to be made that they understand what it means to be a genuine student.”

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Specifically, applicants must now fill in the following sections on their online visa application, for a maximum of 150 words (in English) per question area.

  • “[Details of] their current circumstances. This includes ties to family, community, employment, and economic circumstances.
  • [Reasons they] wish to study this course in Australia with this particular education provider, including “their understanding of the requirements of the intended course and studying and living in Australia.”
  • [Explanation of why] completing the course will be of benefit to them.
  • Details of any other relevant information they would like to include.”

Applicants who have previously held a student visa are asked an additional question. All applicants “must attach supporting documents to their ImmiAccount.” The evidence required is explained in this official government release.

Higher English Scores Required

Students will now have to achieve a score of IELTS 6.0 and, for graduate visas, IELTS 6.5, to be considered for an Australian study visa. The previous required scores had been 5.5 and 6.0.

Providers Deemed “Highest-Risk” will Receive Warning Notices

In the next few weeks, the government will start to act on its previously stated plan to crack down on education providers it believes are at the highest risk of non-compliance with immigration rules. A related statement from the Department of Home Affairs says:

“In coming weeks, the highest risk providers – otherwise known as ghost colleges and visa factories – will be issued with warning notices. They’ll be given 6 months to get their act together, if not, they’ll be suspended from recruiting international students.”

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Financial Proof Requirements

The financial requirements for student visa applicants have also been increased. Students who want to study in the country will now need to demonstrate savings of at least $24,505 – a 17 per cent hike from previous levels.

Despite the record number of international students, government data also reveals a surge in visa rejections, with over 50,000 applications rejected in the three months leading up to February. This coincides with a decline in visa approval rates and a decrease in visa applications for the first time in over two years.

Despite the record number of international students, government data also reveals a surge in visa rejections, with over 50,000 applications rejected in the three months leading up to February. This coincides with a decline in visa approval rates and a decrease in visa applications for the first time in over two years.

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