Simplified Student Visa Framework introduced on 1 July 2016


Student visas

Australia is one of the top destinations for overseas students who want to obtain an internationally recognised qualification whilst experiencing the Australian culture and life. From Australia’s perspective, international students contribute to the Australian economy and enriches the social life in Australia. There is no surprise that the Student visa program allows thousands of genuine students to come and study in Australia every year with no cap on the number of students accepted. Between July 2015 and June 2016, Australia has granted 310,845 Student visas!


There have been major changes to the Student visa program since 1 July 2016. If you are planning on applying for a Student visa in Australia or sending your children to study in Australia, make sure you understand the new framework and its criteria before you apply.  

Simplified Student Visa Framework introduced on 1 July 2016

Recent changes

Australia has decided to simplify the Student visa program by introducing a Simplified Student Visa Framework. The main changes were:

  • The 8 Student visa subclasses previously available have now been combined into two simplified Student visas.  
  • A single immigration risk framework for all students rather than three assessments levels and a streamlined visa processing that previously existed prior to the recent changes. Now the evidentiary requirements is based on your country of origin and education provider, instead of which course you choose to study. The Department of Immigration will determine the level of English and financial documents you need to attach to your Student visa application.  

Features of the new Student visa

How to apply for a Student Visa?

The new requirement requires future students to apply online via their “ImmiAccount”. You will need to visit the DIBP website and click on ImmiAccount then sign up to create a new account. Once you lodge your application, you can then upload all the supporting documents to your application electronically. You can also easily track your application online to see what stage it is at.  

Which education provider/college or university to choose?

Firstly before you decide to come to study in Australia, you have to choose what and where you will be studying. Make sure that the education provider you choose is registered with the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). The only two exceptions that allow students to study in non-CRICOS registered institution are applicable to Foreign Affairs/ Defence sponsored students or students undertaking approved secondary exchange programmes.

What can you study in Australia?

Courses you can study under this visa:

  • Independent ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students).
  • Schools (primary and secondary).
  • Secondary school exchange program.
  • Vocational education and training (VET)- a registered VET course or a registered course for the award of an advanced diploma.
  • Higher education- including a diploma, an advanced diploma, an associate degree, a bachelor degree, a graduate certificate, a graduate diploma, bachelor honours degree, masters degree.
  • Postgraduate research- Masters degree (research) /Doctoral degree.
  • Non-award courses- non-award foundation studies courses or components of a course that do not lead to an award.
  • International students sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs or Defence.

You can also study a package of courses from the above. For example, you can study a certificate then progress to a diploma then an advanced diploma etc.

If you are applying from outside of Australia, you will generally need to provide a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) for each course you intend on studying in Australia.

How much money/level of English should you have?

Under the new simplified framework, the risk outcome which determines the level of financial and English language evidence depends on:

  • which country you are from, and
  • who your education provider is.

Previously the risk level that determined what documents/evidence to provide was determined based on what course you will be studying and there was only three assessment levels and a streamlines option that allowed certain applicants to be assessed under Assessment Level 1.

Under the current system, if you are assessed as a

  • Low immigration risk, you will be required to show a streamlined evidentiary requirements which only requires a financial capacity declaration and the English required will be to satisfy your course.
  • High immigration risk, will need to show regular evidentiary requirements  and provide documents with your application that proves your financial capacity and English language ability.

Generally, you will need to have enough money to:

  • pay for your course fees,
  • travel, and
  • living expenses

for you and your accompanying family members while you are in Australia. That money does not have to be held under your name as long as it is available to you for the purpose of your study in Australia.

You can check what the requirement will be for you through the DIBP website online document checklist tool. You can also contact us if you need more clarification prior to applying for your Student visa.

Student Guardian Visa (Subclass 590)

The second Student visa allowed under the current program is Subclass 590 which is specifically for student guardians. Under this visa, parents and guardians of students under the age of 18 can apply for this visa if they are able to provide appropriate accommodation, support and for the general welfare of the student. Alternatively, a relative over the age of 21 can apply for this visa as long as the parent/guardian approves in writing.

If you are applying for this visa, you have to prove that you:

  • are a genuine applicant who will enter and stay in Australia as a student guardian, and
  • must have the financial capacity to apply for this visa by showing enough funds for the costs and expenses of your intended stay and the costs and expenses of all your family unit members.

Useful tips and information

  • Australian visas are more complex than what you may think. We recommend you seek legal advice before lodging an application.
  • If you are seeking to study in Australia, there might be other visa options available for you other than a Student visa especially if your course is short.  Contact us to discuss your circumstances prior to applying for another Student visa.
  • You might have options to stay in Australia after finishing your course. One option could be to apply for a Temporary Graduate visa if you studied a Bachelor degree or above. This visa subclass is complex and will not suit all students.  
  • Another option is to find an employer and be sponsored for a work visa after your studies.

About the authors

This article was written by Marial Daniel, a solicitor and a registered migration agent (MARN: 1575322) of Teleo Immigration Specialists.

Teleo has successfully represented thousands of applicants over the past 10 years, including complex matters, visa cancellations and review applications.

The director of Teleo Immigration Specialists, Dr Etienne Hugo (MARN: 0004435) has over 17 years of Australian immigration experience and is one of only 35 accredited specialists immigration lawyers in New South Wales. Etienne is admitted as a lawyer in NSW and also the High Court of Australia. He was awarded both his BLC and LLB degrees with distinction and subsequently completed a LLD (Doctor of Law degree) from the University of Pretoria. He obtained his Immigration Law certification from UTS with distinction. Dr Hugo is a Fellow of the Migration Institute of Australia and regularly presents papers on Immigration Law. He has also taught at ANU in the graduate diploma for Immigration since 2006.

If you wish to seek advice or apply for an Australian visa, please contact us on 

DISCLAIMER: Immigration law is complex and is subject to constant regulatory and policy change by the Department of Immigration.  The information provided here may therefore be out-dated and no longer accurate.  The information provided above is a general guide only – it is not tailored for your specific circumstances or immigration purposes and you must under no circumstances rely on this information for immigration planning or the lodgement of an application with the Australian government or related bodies.  In order to ensure your eligibility is accurately assessed and to allow for tactical decision making that would best suit your desired immigration outcome, it is essential that you consult with a capable immigration advisor registered with the relevant Law Society and/or OMARA.  We direct new client enquiries to schedule an initial consultation with our office – email: During an initial consultation we have the opportunity to obtain a complete set of facts that will allow us to explore all the available options.  Another reason we engage clients within the context of an initial consultation is to protect our firm from potential professional liability which may flow from providing a brief, unconsidered opinion.  As a paying client you/ us have the benefit of professional indemnity insurance. Liability limited by a scheme approved under the Professional Standards Legislation.

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