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Simplified student visa framework Australia (SSVF)

Simplified student visa framework Australia will be introduced 01 July 2016. It will replace current 7 different student visas. In a bid to ease student visa application process for international students, the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection has made several changes to the current student visa framework. The new framework dubbed the Simplified Student Visa Framework (or SSVF in short) will be effective from 1st July 2016. The key changes with the SSVF include:
– Only one student Visa will be available for students who wish to study in Australia. Currently, international students have 7 student visas that are awarded depending on their field of study.
– The new framework will streamline the visa application process which will come as a relief to international students who may have had a hard time completing and submitting their visa application with the current system. This framework will also work in favor of the immigration department as it will help reinforce the integrity of the Student Visa Programme.
Under the SSVF, all students from overseas will be required to apply for a subclass 500 visa. All applications for visas will be completed online. In order to qualify for the subclass 500 visa, an individual will be required to meet the following core requirements. (More detailed information about Australian student visa is available under the link)

Core Requirements for Subclass 500 Visa

Enrollment in a CRICOS registered course offered in Australia
A student visa is only available to an individual who is enrolled in a CRICOS registered course in Australia. A Confirmation of Enrollment otherwise known as a CoE must be provided when applying for a student visa. Secondary Exchange students, postgraduate students who have to remain the country when their theses are being marked and sponsored students are exempted from this requirement. They, however, must submit an application to the Foreign Affairs and Defense office.

Genuine Temporary Entrant Requirement (GTE)

Even with the simplified visa application process, international students will still need to meet the GTE requirements. An assessment of how genuine an individual is will be carried out in a bid to prove that the individual in question only wishes to stay in Australia temporarily. Individual circumstances ranging from personal factors that may encourage an individual to return to their home country to immigration history are used when conducting this assessment.

English Proficiency

A documentary evidence of proficiency in the English language may be required especially if a student does not come from a native English speaking country. If the client service tool available online indicates that a document to prove English language proficiency is required, you must attach the required document when submitting your online visa application or risk. Failure to do so may result in your visa application getting rejected.

Lowest immigration risk students will not be required to provide evidence of their English proficiency. They, however, need to produce evidence that they fall under the exempted category. In some instances even students who are considered high immigration risk students are exempted from providing proof of English proficiency. Such students fall under the categories discussed below.

– Citizens and passport holders of the Republic of Ireland, the UK, USA, and Canada. All these are English speaking countries.

– Students who have completed 5 years of study in Australia, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand and Canada.

– Students who are enrolled under full-time school studies. This includes students sponsored by the department of defense or the department of foreign affairs. It also includes English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS) students, postgraduate research students, and secondary exchange program students.

– Students who have completed the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education or are undertaking the Certificate IV Level or higher in English in Australia for 2 years before making the student visa application.

All other high immigration risk students not under the above categories have to produce evidence in the form of an acceptable language score. The acceptable score will differ depending on the test provider. Accepted test providers include the International English Language Testing System, internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the paper based TOEFL, Occupational English Test, the Cambridge English: Advanced otherwise known as Certificate in Advanced English, and the Pearson Test of English Academic. The paper based TOEFL test will only be accepted from certain countries that have not changed even with this new format.
For the International Language Testing System, the minimum score will be 5.5, 5 when combined with 10 weeks or more ELICOS, and 4.5 when combined with 20 weeks or more ELICOS.
In the case of internet based TOEFL, the minimum score will be 46, 35 when combined with 10 weeks or more ELICOS, and 32 when combined with 20 weeks or more ELICOS. For the paper based TOEFL, the minimum score will be 527, 500 when combined with 10 weeks or more ELICOS or 450 when combined with 20weeks or more ELICOS.
A pass in the Occupational English Test will be sufficient. The minimum score for the Certificate in Advanced English is set at 162, 154 combined with 10weeks or more ELICOS, and 147 when combined with 20 weeks or more ELICOS. If a student takes the Pearson Test of English Academic, the minimum score will be 42, 36 when combined with 10 weeks or more ELICOS, and 30 when combined with 20 weeks or more ELICOS.
There is no limit to the duration of ELICOS that a student can take. Interested students can take as many ELICOS as necessary before starting the course they are enrolled in or as a standalone course.
To ensure that the test taken is current student are only allowed to submit scores of tests done within 2 years before submitting the visa application or within 2 years before the visa is granted.

Financial Capacity

International students need to have sufficient funds to meet their living costs and also cover their course fees. While students are generally allowed to work for a specific number of hours they should not depend on this money when it comes to course fees and general living expenses.
In certain situations, you may be required to produce evidence for financial capacity. This in most cases depend on the institution you are enrolled in and your country of citizenship. Generally, students who are classified in the low-risk immigration category will only need to declare that they are financially able to sustain themselves and meet their course fees. Students in the high-risk immigration category may have to produce documents to support their declaration of financial capacity.

One of the following documents can act as documentary evidence where proof of financial capacity is required.

– Documents that proves that you meet the annual income requirement of at least AUD 60,000 and AUD 70,000 in case you will be accompanied by the family. The document provided must be an official government document such as the tax assessment document. Only personal income, a student’s spouse income, and the student’s parent income is considered. Where the student’s parents’ income is involved, both parents combined income may be considered where both parents are working.

-Evidence of enough funds to cover 12 months living costs, all travel costs, course fees, and education fees for family members accompanying you during your study. Proof in this category can be a bank deposit, government loan, loan by a financial institution, sponsorship or a scholarship.

– An Acceptance Advice of Secondary Exchange Students or AASES form. As the name suggests, this one only applies to Secondary Exchange Students.

The 12 months living costs will add up to AUD 19,830 for the student or guardian, AUD 6,940 for a spouse or partner and AUD 2,970 for a child.
Students that will the accompanied by school going children are required to provide proof that the can meet the schooling cost of AUD 8,000 per year for every child.
A student who is undertaking a PH.D is not required to provide evidence of schooling cost for a dependent child. The PH.D student will, however, be required to produce evidence of enrollment in a government school in Australia where school fees are waived.
Also, beneficiaries of Commonwealth Government Scholarships are not required to provide evidence for the dependent children’s education costs as long as the children in question are enrolled in government institutions where fees are waived.
Funds indicated when applying for a student VISA must be available for use. The student’s assets, income and employment and visa history will be used to determine the availability of funds. Where a student is sponsored by another person, that person’s assets, income, and visa history will also be considered.
From July 2016, annual income, education fees for dependent children and living costs will be reviewed on a regular basis and adjusted accordingly depending on the Consumer Price Index figures of the previous year.


A health examination is part of the Visa application process. Generally, this is conducted to establish your general body health and determine whether any specialized may be needed. In addition to this, you and all international students are required to have an Overseas Students Health Cover or OSHC in short before a student visa is awarded.

Course Requirements and Transfers

From 1st July 2016, all subclass 500 visa holders will be required to maintain enrollment at the same level as when applying for a visa or go for a higher level according to the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF). Transferring to a course with a lower AQF or a course that is not AQF awarded will be considered a breach of the student condition and this can lead to visa cancellation. Students who wish to change and apply for lower AQF courses must apply for a student Visa afresh.

Age Requirements for study

The education sector has set age requirements that all individuals need to meet at the entry level. Age requirements for students in different categories include;

– At least 6 years for children who are to be enrolled in school.

-At least 17 years when starting year 9 of high school

– At least 18 years when starting year 10 of high school

– At least 19 years when starting year 11 of high school

-At least 20 years when starting year 12 of high school

All students under the age of 18 will have welfare arrangements just like before. Appropriate forms to work as evidence where welfare arrangements are concerned will have to be submitted when making the visa application.

Students undertaking doctoral courses who wish to transfer to master degrees will not be affected by this change. They will, therefore, be able to change to their master degrees of choice and still remain in compliance with the law.

Genuine students will still be in a position to package two or more courses with a single student visa where one course progresses into another. Learning institutions will also not need to formally nominate educational business partners. They will be allowed to package and hence enable students to package more courses with other learning institutions as long as they have a working arrangement with these institutions.

Core Requirements for Family Members

Family members of students who are already holders of student visas will be required to apply for their own subclass 500 visa when they want to join the student in Australia. Family members who already have a student visa will, however, be exempted from this requirement.
Generally, the same rules concerning financial capacity apply for all family members and subsequent dependents.

Student Guardian Visa

Unlike in the past where a single immigration risk assessment was enough where a guardian is involved, this will not be the case from 1st July 2016. Every guardian will need to produce evidence of financial capacity either in the form of sufficient funds available or a spouse’s income. In order to qualify, the spouse’s income will be expected to be at least AUD70, 000. Funds available should be enough to cover all travel costs, the cost of living for up to 12 months and the cost of sustaining any dependent child included in the visa application.

Current Australian Student Visa Holders

Students who are current holders of any of the available 7 students’ visas will not be affected by the above changes. However, any family member or dependent who wishes to join such students after 1st July 2016 will be required to apply for a subclass 500 visa.

Student Visa Grant Period

The grant period for a student visa goes for a maximum of 5 years for older students. The grant period for primary school students is, however, shorter and goes for a maximum of 2 years. This lower grant period for primary students is designed to safeguard these young children and their interests.