Last 20 July 2020, the Australian Government made a media release to announce the range of visa measures to support international students and graduates with their visa concerns due to COVID-19 restrictions. These measures will be temporary and shall continue until further notice.
Student visa fee
Student visa applicants who held a student visa on or after 1 February 2020 and those who are not able to complete their course within their original visa validity due to the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, visa application fee will be waived. This is to allow affected students to lodge a further visa application to complete their studies. This will include students who:
- postponed their study because they are not able to enter Australia due to travel restrictions
- were forced to reduce a part-time study load
- were unable to finish their work-based training or placements.
This measure, however, is not applicable to students who wish to apply for a new student visa due to ordinary reasons such as failure of a course or unit of study, and voluntarily postponement and/or reduction of study load.
Whether onshore or offshore, the application must be done online. Along with it is a completed Form 1545 – COVID-19 Impacted Students from your education provider to have your fee waiver considered. For onshore applicants of the fee waiver, you will not receive an automatically issued Bridging visa as the fee exemption needs to be reviewed by the Department first.
Timeframes for additional information (English Tests, Biometrics, and Health)
The Department of Home Affairs now uses a flexible approach for the submission of additional requirements or information needed. Additional time will be given to those who are not able to take an English Test, or those who were not able to provide their biometrics and/or done their health checks due to the restrictions brought by the pandemic.
To update the Department, you may attach a copy in your ImmiAccount of your booking confirmation if you have made an appointment for these services, the date of which will be past the 28-day deadline given.
Latest visa conditions
As the pandemic brought several restrictions for international students, the DHA has also became lenient when it comes to the conditions not being met by Student visa holders due to COVID-19. There will be no breach of Student visa conditions if:
- you have an approved course postponement or deferral
- you are studying online
Support for student financial difficulties
Student visa holders are encouraged to stay in touch with their education providers to know about the support available for them. Some financial assistance offered for international students are:
- Access to superannuation is granted by the Australian Government if you have been in Australia for more than 12 months and currently experiencing financial hardship.
- Extended working arrangements for international students who work in the critical sectors namely health, disability or aged care organisations.
- You may also contact your Embassy or local Consular Office to see if help is available from them.
Offshore student visa applicants
The Department continues the processing of student visa applications. Meanwhile, the previously deferred granting of visas for students who lodged an application outside Australia have recently recommenced. However, those who had their applications granted will not be able to travel to Australia until the travel restrictions have been lifted. Student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to COVID-19 will be able to use that study to count towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa. And recent 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.
When to notify the DHA?
There is no need to notify the Department about your study situation changes or if you return home. Your visa will remain valid until it expires, or when you lodge another application. Education providers can issue a new Certificate of Enrolment (CoE) and have the students enrol online. If you currently hold a valid student visa, your education provider will provide the CoE to the DHA. However, if you have an open Student visa application, you may attach your new CoE through your ImmiAccount.
(Felix Carao is a Registered Migration Consultant (MARN 1069354), a Qualified Education Counselor (QEAC G028), and an Accredited Recruitment Professional (MRCSA 51889). For enquiries, call 0412 321 187 or email email@example.com or visit www.allskills.com.au)
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