Student visas for Australia: what’s changed under Covid-19?

Amid ongoing lockdowns and travel restrictions, here’s how the student visa process for Australia has changed

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Joy Hunter

Student content curator
July 5 2021
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Australia has strict Covid-19 travel restrictions in place and it is predicted that borders may stay closed to large numbers of students until the second half of 2022. 

On top of this, Australia has made some temporary changes to its student visa regulations to accommodate Covid-19 disruptions.

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Below is everything you need to know about the changes to student visa processes in Australia that have come in due to the pandemic.

Can I apply for exemption from Australia’s travel restrictions as an international student with a visa?

Australia has strict travel restrictions in place and the borders are closed to almost everyone, including international students. Flights into the country are limited, and the number of people allowed to enter is capped, even for Australian nationals.

There is some movement to get students returning on a state level, with South Australia recently being granted permission to fly in a group of international students as part of a pilot return scheme.

The Australian government advises students against applying for a student visa or a travel exemption to Australia themselves, as it is highly unlikely they will be approved.

If you are nominated through your university for an approved return scheme, your education provider will apply for an exemption from the travel ban on your behalf.

If you’re currently enrolled or about to enrol at an Australian institution, you should contact them directly for more advice on when you may be able to enter the country. 

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Visa re-application fee waived for some students

If you need to apply for a further student visa to complete your studies because of any the following:

  • You deferred your studies due to travel restrictions stopping you from entering Australia
  • You had to switch from a full-time to a part-time course because of Covid-19
  • You were unable to complete any work-based training or placements that formed part of your course,

then the fee for you to apply for another visa will be waived. To do this, you’ll need to get this fee waiver application form filled out by your education provider and attach it to your online visa application.

Longer deadlines for English language tests and health checks

Covid-19 has made it difficult for some students to take the necessary English language proficiency tests and health checks required to get an Australian student visa approved.

It is now possible to apply for a visa without having a health check or English language test if you upload evidence that you’ve booked in for any missing services to your ImmiAccount. 

Will my temporary graduate visa be affected?

Australia’s temporary graduate visa scheme allows international students from Australian universities to live and work in the country for up to four years after graduating.

To accommodate ongoing travel disruptions, the Australian government has announced that remote study from outside Australia will count towards the study time needed to be eligible for this visa.

Furthermore, you can now apply for the temporary graduate visa from outside Australia if you have been affected by travel restrictions. If you are applying from outside Australia, you must have held a student visa for the past 12 months, even if you’ve been unable to enter the country in that time.


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