Australia’s student program is changing substantially in the 2016-17 financial year. The legislation isn’t yet firmly in place, but there will be a lot of change. Read on to find out what’s happening.

Changes to Australia’s student visa program

The changes won’t affect current international students holding visas just yet. But the changes will ostensibly include:

  • The collapsing of all current visa subclasses into one single visa category
  • A rationalisation of the relevant criteria which the DIBP uses to assess student genuineness
  • An increase in the amount of assessed living costs to $19,830.00 for primary students (up from $18,610.00)
  • The introduction of a new visa condition requiring overseas students to maintain enrolment at the same or a higher level of the qualification for which they were granted a visa
  • The introduction of ‘streamlined evidentiary requirements’ depending on the level of risk associated with the student’s country of origin
  • … among other things.

What the student visa program changes may mean

Without seeing the legislation and underlying policy, it is difficult to form a meaningful view yet about what the changes will mean to our international student body. Certainly, the framework as it currently stands is a complicated one, particularly the matrix the DIBP uses to assess genuineness, and we welcome any improvements that can be made to this.

On the other hand, it does seem that what has been announced in terms of assessing risk for the international student cohort is similar to what is already legislated. It will be interesting to see what, if any changes in real terms there will be to the DIBP’s legislative armoury in assessing applications.

Certainly, the apparent introduction of a new visa condition preventing backwards enrolment is a positive development. What will be interesting is to see whether the DIBP actually uses that from a compliance perspective (as well as their existing power to refuse further substantive visa applications where there is non-compliance with visa conditions on a student visa).

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