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Australia is an attractive destination for overseas students, with the chance to study in English and many prestigious institutions around the country. However, immigration rules are tight, so if you want to study here you will need to obtain a student visa. As always with visas, you must take care with your application, as failure to fill in the form correctly could invalidate your application. It is important to ensure you have understood what is required of you, and that you enclose all the required documentation with your application.

Check your eligibility

First you should ascertain whether you are eligible for a student visa. Don’t even think about trying to enter the country on another class of visa. You risk being removed from the country and barred from entry in the future.

You don’t need to be studying at a higher education institution (undergraduate courses) to get a student visa. In fact, the majority ofoverseas students in Australia are taking vocational courses such as business or hospitality, or English language courses. Only about 40% of foreign students are in higher education.

Get the right visa application

You’ll need a student visa (subclass 500)

Be prepared to pay

Applying for a student visa will cost AUD$560. There are additional fees if you wish to bring dependants with you. You should also be able to show that you have sufficient funds to not only pay the course fees, which typically cost between AUD$15,000 and $33,000 for an undergraduate degree. Living costs are estimated to be around AUD$18,000 per year.

Have a CoE

Before applying for your student visa, you should obtain a CoE (Confirmation of Enrolment) from your institution. This is evidence that you have been made a formal offer of a place to study at that institution. There are a few exceptions, such as if you are an exchange student or are sponsored by an Australian government department.

Send your application in time

It can take 2-4 months to process a student visa application, although many are processed in just over a month. Therefore, you should begin the application process as early as possible, in order to ensure that your visa is ready in time for you to organise your travel arrangements. It is recommended that you make your application as soon as you have your CoE. Leave it too late, and you could find that you have not received your visa before the start of your course – or worse still, that you have made your arrangements and are then denied a visa altogether.

Provide everything asked for

You may be asked to provide extra evidence with your application, such as proof of language skills or that you have the funds to meet your living costs. Failure to include all necessary paperwork could lead to delays or refusal of your visa. Use this checklist to ascertain what you need to send with your application.

Obtain health insurance

You will be required to obtain health insurance before applying for your visa. It must be a specific policy for overseas students, which is known as OSHC (Overseas Student Health Cover). If you are bringing dependants, you must also obtain coverage for them. OSHC may be available via your institution, but you should check that it is suitable for your needs. It can also be more economical to shop around.

Prove you only intend to stay in Australia on a temporary basis

Overstaying is a problem with many visas, and in every country there are false applications from people who enrol in unreliable institutions simply to get a student visa. You may therefore be asked to show evidence that you only intend to remain in Australia for the duration of your course, and that you have good reasons to return to your own country once your course is completed. These reasons could be employment, family ties, or owning a home in your country.

You can use an agent

If you find all this too daunting to handle by yourself, you can use an education agent. These are professionals who will help with your visa application as well as the application process with institutions. They will be familiar with all the requirements of obtaining a visa and all the issues involved with studying in Australia.