Most international students wanting to study in Australia require a student visa. Some other visa holders are also eligible to study as international students in Australia. Many students apply for a visa themselves on-line or via the Australian Diplomatic Mission in their country. The visa application process may be complicated. Students from some countries find it easier to submit an application with an accredited agent because of their familiarity and experience in the field.
Department of Home Affairs
The Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs provides comprehensive information about student visa requirements and the application process, as well as application document checklists to assist you with your application. Visit the Department of Home Affairs for the latest information.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
As well as links from the Department of Home Affairs website, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website has a comprehensive list of Australian embassies, high commissions, consulates and representative offices around the world.
Education agents promote various Australian education programs and institutions internationally and are a good way for students to apply to study in Australia. Agents are experienced in making international student applications and applying for visas. Most agents speak both English and the local language so this makes the application process a lot simpler and generally hassle-free for students and parents. Most do not charge for their service as they collect a commission from the institution you choose to attend. However, some agents do charge small amounts or offer additional services for which they charge.
Please Note: Although able to assist in completing education and visa applications, Education Agents are NOT licensed to provide migration advice.
What is a genuine temporary entrant (GTE)?
Introduced in November 2011, the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement states that the visa applicant must be able to demonstrate a genuine intention to stay in Australia temporarily for the purpose of study or to accompany a student as a dependent (i.e. spouse or child) or as a guardian. The decision-makers at the Depart of Home Affairs will consider the following factors:
- The circumstances in your home country
- The potential circumstances for you in Australia
- The value of your chosen course for your future
- Your immigration history
- Any other relevant matters
In order to determine whether you are meet the GTE requirement, you may be asked to attend an interview at your nearest Australian embassy or consulate. Some applicants will only need to fill in a visa application form. You should allow enough time for processing your Visa and the start of your academic program. This process can take a long time depending on your country of origin.
Completing an Australian Student Visa Student Application
Australian student visas were previously categorised in different types depending on the study level, but on 1 July 2016, this was simplified so now all international students apply for the Student Visa (Subclass 500), which you must apply for online. The changes also mean that students are no longer assigned an immigration risk assessment level, as the same framework applies to all students.
Before applying for a visa, you will need to obtain a Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) or a Letter of Offer confirming that you have been accepted into a course registered under the Commonwealth Register of Institutions of Courses (CRICOS). The COE will be in the form of an online code that you will need to enter into the appropriate section in the online visa application. You may also need to pay a deposit towards your tuition fees.
You will be able to change course afterwards to one of the same or a higher study level, but you’ll need to apply for a new visa if you’re changing course to a lower level on the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) or a non-AQF level course (unless changing from a PhD to a master’s). Students may also package their studies by studying two or more courses on their Student Visa (Subclass 500), where there is a clear progression from one course to another.
The Visa Wizard on the Department of Home Affairs website can help you find the Australian visa most likely to meet your specific circumstances.
Australian Student Visa Requirements
When completing your online visa application form, you will need to provide evidence of the following according to the Australian student visa requirements:
Financial requirements: Evidence of sufficient funds to cover tuition, travel and living costs. From October 2019, the amount you need to prove you have for living costs (separate from tuition and travel) is set at AUD$21,041 for a year. If you have dependents (such as a spouse and children), you will also need to show evidence of being able to cover living costs for them, including school fees. Alternatively, you can show evidence that your spouse or parents are willing to support you and that they earn at least AUD$60,000 (~US$45,850) a year.
English proficiency requirement: If you’re not from an English-speaking country (and haven’t completed at least five years’ study in an English-speaking country) you’ll need to prove you can speak English to the required level. The Department of Home Affairs website lists eligible tests, with possibilities being the IELTS, TOEFL iBT, Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic, and Cambridge Advanced English (CAE). The score you will need will depend on whether you are starting a full degree, doing a foundation course, or enrolling on a preliminary English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS).
Health requirements: You must meet the health requirements. You might need to undergo health examinations as part of the visa application process. The health assessment process can take several weeks to complete. To help avoid delays, you can choose to undertake your health examination prior to lodging your visa application. More information is available about My health declarations.
Overseas Student Health Cover
All student visa holders must have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) which provides medical and hospital insurance in Australia. Except for students from Norway, Sweden or Belgium. You must not arrive in Australia before your health insurance starts. If you are in Australia and do not have adequate health insurance, you are in breach of visa condition 8501.
Your education provider might organise your OSHC coverage for you, or you can select an approved OSHC provider yourself and pay the policy. You will need OSHC coverage for the duration of your visa. To find out the length of coverage you will require, see student visa grant periods. If your education provider arranges your OSHC coverage, you will need to know the name of your health insurance provider, the date that your policy starts and finishes and should be aware of the terms and conditions of your policy. If you arrange OSHC coverage yourself you will also need to know the policy number to include in the visa application. If you are studying at more than one educational provider and both are arranging OSHC, you will have to ensure that there is no gap between policies. This means that as one policy expires the next commences immediately.
If you have a child born after your arrival in Australia, and you only have a single OSHC policy you must change that to a family policy. If family members join you after your arrival in Australia they will have to demonstrate that they have an OSHC policy for the duration of their visas.
Character requirements: Australian student visa requirements stipulate that you must be of good character to enter Australia. This includes a criminal record check, to make sure you don’t have a substantial criminal record. You must answer a number of character-related questions on your visa application form and the information you provide will be used to assess your character. You might be asked for more information. More information is available about Character and police certificate requirements.
Australian Student Visa Documents
The Department of Home Affairs website has a document checklist tool that will provide you with a list of documents required for your specific circumstances. Typically, students must submit the following:
- Completed Australian student visa application form (157A)
- Paid visa application fee – currently AUD $620
- Copy of passport biodata page (some students may be asked to physically provide their passport)
- Certificate of Enrolment or Letter of Offer
- Evidence of sufficient funds
- Evidence of health insurance cover
- English proficiency test results
- Character and police certificate
- Four recent passport-sized photographs
- any other documentation. For example, if you are under 18 you may need to complete a Student guardianship arrangements Form 157N to ensure your accommodation and welfare.
After you have assembled and scanned your supporting documents, you’ll need to create an account and apply with the online ‘ImmiAccount’ application system.
Most visa applications take four weeks to process. If you study in Australia for a course that is longer than 10 months and finishes at the end of an Australian academic year (usually mid-December) your visa will usually be valid until 15 March the following year. If your course is longer than 10 months and finishes in January to October, your visa will usually be valid for two months following the completion of your course.
Under some circumstances, it may be possible to apply for a further visa at the end of your course (consult the Department of Home Affairs website for more details).
If you are granted a visa, you must abide by its conditions. Failure to comply with these conditions could result in the cancellation of your visa. These conditions include (but are not limited to):
- Complete the course within the duration specified in the CoE
- Maintain satisfactory academic progress
- Maintain approved Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) while in Australia
- Remain with the principal education provider for 6 calendar months, unless issued a letter of release from the provider to attend another institution
- Notify your training provider of your Australian address and any subsequent changes of address within 7 days.
Different visa conditions apply to you and your family members. You can check your visa conditions in Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). You must comply with the state and territory laws of Australia.
Working while studying
While on a student visa, you may work up to 40 hours per fortnight during term time, and full-time in the holidays. The visa is automatically issued with permission to work, although you are not allowed to begin working until your course has started, and should not rely on work in order to support yourself or your family while in Australia. If you’re studying a master’s by research or a PhD you do not have any work restrictions. Keep in mind that any work required as part of your course is not included in the limit. Voluntary/unpaid work is not included in the 40-hour limit if it is genuinely voluntary, for a non-profit organisation and for the benefit of the community. More information is available about Work conditions for student visa holders.
While in possession of a student visa, you have certain obligations to fulfil: you must remain enrolled in a CRICOS-registered course, attend classes regularly, make satisfactory course progress and maintain OSHC health insurance. There are also certain visa conditions you and your dependents must comply with; breaching a visa condition may result in the cancellation of your visa.
You will need to make your own travel arrangements to Australia. Please try to arrive at least 1-2 weeks before the start of your first class to allow enough time for settling-in, adjusting to the climate and overcoming jet-lag.
You should prepare a folder of official documents to bring with you to Australia, including:
- Valid passport with Student Visa
- An offer of a place/admission letter from TMT Education
- Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) issued by TMT Education
- Receipts of payments (e.g. tuition fees, OSHC, bank statements etc.)
- Insurance policies
- Other personal identification documents, e.g. birth certificate, ID card, driver’s licence
- Medical records and/or prescriptions
If you are travelling with your family, you will need to include their documents as well. Keep all documents in your carry-on luggage. In case you lose the originals, make copies that can be left behind with family and sent to you.
What to bring
Students are often surprised by how strict Australian Customs Services and quarantine can be. If you’re in doubt about whether your goods are prohibited or not, declare it anyway on the Incoming Passenger Card which you will receive on the plane. Students have received on the spot fines for not declaring items.
Visit the Department of Agriculture
- Read “Travelling to Australia”
- And also, let your family and friends know “What can’t be mailed to Australia?”
Baggage allowances flying into Australia will vary according to your carrier, flight class and country of origin. Please check with your carrier prior to departure. Economy passengers are generally permitted 1 x checked luggage (35kg) and 1 x carry-on (7kg) for international flights, but only 20kg of checked luggage on domestic flights within Australia. This will significantly limit the number of things you can bring, especially if you will fly within Australia to get to your final destination. Therefore, it is essential to think about the packing process very carefully. You will be able to purchase most things upon arrival in Australia but the price may be higher than in your own country.
Summer in Australia is from December to February, autumn from March to May, winter from June to August, and spring from September to November. For most of the country, the hottest months are January and February.
If you arrive in June or July, the coldest months of the year, you may need to bring or buy winter clothing and blankets.
At most Colleges, students usually dress informally. Jeans or slacks with t-shirts or blouses, sneakers or “running shoes” are almost standard dress. Shorts are often worn during the summer months and sandals are the most common footwear. It is acceptable for both men and women to wear shorts and sleeveless t-shirts. This is common during the hotter months.
A sports coat or suit and tie for men and appropriate dress for women is necessary for some functions such as formal dinners or a graduation ceremony. For festive occasions, you may want to bring a traditional dress and accessories.
Most primary and secondary school students will be required to wear a school uniform to classes and other school activities. You should check with your education provider what is required for you to wear.
Other Items You Might Need to Include (most can also be purchased in Australia)
- alarm clock
- bath towels, bedsheets, pillowcases
- dictionary (bilingual)
- small sewing kit
- music CDs or iPod
- sporting equipment
- scientific or graphics calculator
- micro recorder for lectures
- spare spectacles or contact lenses
- your optical prescription
- photos of friends and family
- swimming costume
- small gifts from home
The standard voltage for electrical items in Australia is 240V. Electric plugs have three flat pins one of which is an earth pin. You may need to buy an adaptor or have the plugs changed when you arrive.
Bringing your devices
Bringing a PC or laptop into Australia maybe a little more complicated.
Items owned and used for more than 12 months prior to arrival are allowed in tax-free. Proof of the date of purchase and purchase price may be required. Computers which are less than 12 months old and over AUD$400 may attract Goods and Services Tax (GST) at a rate of 10%. Consideration is given as to whether or not you intend to export the computer at the conclusion of your studies.
To satisfy the Customs Officer that you will be taking the computer out of Australia you should bring along a statutory declaration (a written declaration witnessed by the certifying authority in your country) stating that the computer is for use during your studies in Australia, and that you intend to take it back with you when you complete your studies. You may be required to give an undertaking under Section 162 to this effect and provide a cash security to Australia Customs upon arrival.
Mobile Phones & Laptops
If you are considering bringing a mobile phone, laptop, or any communication devices we suggest that you visit the Australian Communications and Media Authority before making any purchases. Some students have brought in their own laptops with internal modems only to discover that they were unable to use their modem in Australia. Any external or built-in modems must be Austel Approved in order to function in Australia.
On your flight
Wear comfortable, layered clothing so that you are able to make adjustments according to the local weather. Remember – if you are flying from a northern hemisphere winter into the Australian summer it will be very HOT so wear lightweight clothing underneath, and have a pair of sandals or lighter shoes in your hand luggage if you need cooler footwear. Alternatively, extra clothing may be required on-hand if flying into the Australian winter season.
Before landing in Australia passengers are given an Incoming Passenger Card to fill in. This is a legal document. You must tick YES if you are carrying any food, plant material including wooden souvenirs, or animal products. This includes fruit given to you during your flight. If you have items you don’t wish to declare, you can dispose of them in quarantine bins in the airport terminal. Don’t be afraid to ask airline staff if you have any questions.
If you are carrying more than AU$10,000 in cash, you must also declare this on your Incoming Passenger Card. It is strongly recommended, however, that you do not carry large sums of cash but arrange for an electronic transfer of funds into your Australian bank account once it has been opened.
Entry into Australia
When you first arrive in Australia you will be required to make your way through Australian Immigration (follow the signs for Arriving Passengers as you leave the plane). An Immigration Officer will ask to see your completed Incoming Passenger Card (given to you on the plane) along with your passport and student visa evidence. The Immigration Officer will check your documents and may ask you a few questions about your plans for your stay in Australia.
At the Airport
Once you have passed through the immigration checks you will move to baggage claim (follow the signs) and collect your luggage. Check that nothing is missing or damaged. If something is missing or damaged go to the Baggage Counter and advise them of your problem. Staff at the Baggage Counter will help you to find your belongings or lodge a claim for damage.
You may see a Quarantine Detector Dog at the baggage carousel or while waiting in line to pass through immigration, screening luggage for food, plant material or animal products. If you see a detector dog working close to you, please place your bags on the floor for inspection. These dogs are not dangerous to humans and are trained to detect odours. Sometimes a dog will sit next to your bag if it sniffs a target odour. Sometimes dogs will detect odours left from the food you have had in the bag previously. A quarantine officer may ask about the contents of your bag and check you are not carrying items that present a quarantine risk to Australia.
AUSTRALIAN CUSTOMS AND QUARANTINE
Once you have your luggage you will go through Customs. Be careful about what you bring into Australia. Some items you might bring from overseas can carry pests and diseases that Australia doesn’t have. You must declare ALL food, meat, fruit, plants, seeds, wooden souvenirs, animal or plant materials or their derivatives. Australia has strict quarantine laws and tough on-the-spot fines. Every piece of luggage is now screened or x-rayed by quarantine officers, detector dog teams and x-ray machines. If you fail to declare or dispose of any quarantine items or make a false declaration, you will get caught. In addition to on-the-spot fines, you could be prosecuted and fined more than AU$60,000 and risk 10 years in prison. All international mail is also screened.
Some products may require treatment to make them safe. Items that are restricted because of the risk of pests and disease will be seized and destroyed by the Department of Agriculture. For more detailed information about bringing in food, animals, plants, animal or plant materials or their derivatives visit the Department of Agriculture.
You will be able to leave the restricted area and enter the Arrivals Hall once you have cleared Customs. Here you will find a number of retail and food outlets along with public telephones, an information booth and money exchange facilities. If you arrive on a weekend, you may like to exchange money here as most banks are not open on Saturdays and Sundays.
Getting from the airport
Sydney Airport, also known as the Kingsford Smith Airport, is one of the oldest air terminals in the world and one of the busiest ones in the Australian continent.
AIRPORT LOCATION AND ADDRESS
The airport of Sydney is located at a distance of 9 km to the south of the city.
Address: Sydney Airports Corporation Limited, The Ulm Building, 1 Link Road, Sydney International Terminal, NSW 2020, Australia
THREE IMPORTANT TERMINALS
- Terminal 1 hosts the international flights to and from a number of countries around the world.
- Terminal 2 hosts domestic flights and international flights as well.
- Terminal 3 hosts domestic flights. To transfer between the three terminals, you can use the underground Airport Link or the T-Bus service available for passengers.
USEFUL INFORMATION FOR PASSENGERS
- Telephone: +61 (02) 9667 9111
- Fax: +61 (02) 9667 1592
- Sydney Airport Executive Services: +61 (02) 9667 6534
- Lost Property Issue: +61 (02) 9667 9583
TRAVEL BETWEEN TERMINALS
Airport Link offers a $6.10 (one way, per person) transfer ticket for passengers transferring between T1 International and T2/T3 Domestic Terminals. The journey takes only 2 minutes and there are frequent services between 5am and midnight, 7 days a week. For more information visit Airport Link
GETTING ABOUT TOWN
Transportation in Sydney is made possible through a system of ferries, buses, light rail and trains. The system transports commuters to and from the city; however, it is sometimes difficult to travel from place to place once in the city. Trains operate underground in the city but do not travel to all suburbs. You will need to purchase an OPAL card to travel on public transport. Using an Opal card is the easiest and most affordable way to travel in Sydney. You can get Adult and Child/Youth Opal cards and single trip tickets at airport train stations. To get other concession Opal cards, see ticket eligibility. For more information on Sydney, transport call 13-1500 or visit Transport NSW website.
There are rail stations located at both the International and Domestic Terminals.
The Domestic rail station is located directly between T2 and T3 Terminals and is accessible from within the terminals from the arrivals level.
The International rail station is located at the northern end of the terminal and is accessible from the arrivals level.
TRAVEL TO THE CITY
Airport Link is a fast and convenient way to reach the centre of Sydney. Trains run approximately every 10 minutes and the journey into the city takes only 13 minutes. The international and domestic rail stations link directly to the City Circle which means most city destinations are within a short walk of stations.
TRAVEL TO THE SUBURBS
Tickets can be purchased to all Sydney stations from the International and Domestic rail stations. Simply catch the train from the International or Domestic stations to Central station and change for all suburban services.
There are many bus services that operate to and from Sydney Airport – most of which require pre-booking. See the options below to determine which service best suits your needs.
Sydney Buses has a timetabled service between Bondi Junction and Burwood with stops at both T1 International and T3 Domestic Terminals.
General Information about fares, timetables and connections to other parts of Sydney is available at Transport NSW
METROPOLITAN AND REGIONAL SUBURB TRANSFER
Many shuttle bus companies provide transport between the airport and most Sydney suburbs and regional areas. These buses need to be pre-booked. Check the Yellow Pages under “Bus and Coach Services” for the service to and from your area.
Terminal Transfer although linked by runways and aprons, Sydney Airport’s Domestic and International terminal buildings are located separately.
There are several options available for transfer between T1 International and T2/T3 Domestic Terminals, depending on your flight details and time allowance.
Approximate costs of transfer options are listed below, with links to other pages and websites for more information.
T – Bus is a shuttle bus service between T1 International and T2 Domestic Terminals. It is only a short walk between T2 and T3 Terminals. The journey takes up to 10 mins and operates frequently in the morning peak period, then half-hourly until 8pm. The bus stops are on arrivals Levels, at T1 Bus Bay 21 near McDonald’s, and at T2 Bus Bay 3 near baggage carousel 6. For more detailed information contact Carbridge on (+61 2) 9700 8844
The P-Bus is a free shuttle bus that operates continuously between the Remote Long Term Car Park and the Domestic Terminals only. The trip takes approximately 5 minutes and buses depart every 10-15 minutes.
HOTEL TRANSFER – AIRPORT HOTELS ONLY
Airport Hotels run Airport to Hotel to Airport, shuttle services at a minimal fee. Please check with your Hotel for timetable and costs.
HOTEL TRANSFER – SYDNEY CBD AREA
When making your accommodation reservations, check to see if there is a complimentary pickup/drop off service is offered.
When the weather is dry, taxis are plentiful and inexpensive. Taxis line up in most major points through the city, including Wynyard Station, Central Station, Chifley Square, the State Theatre and Elizabeth Bay. Booking Fee is approximately $2.20, flag fall is $3.30 and then $2.50 per km. You may also be liable for toll and ferry charges. Cabbies in Australia are known for their honesty and may help with your luggage. Do not forget to ask your cabbie where to visit in Sydney.
- Legion Cabs: +61-2 13 1451 or +61-2 9289-9000
- Premier Cabs: +61-2 13 1017 or +61-2 9897-4000
- Taxis Combined Services: +61-2 13-1008 or +61-2 9332-8888
- RSL Cabs: +61-2 13 1581 or +61-2 9699-0144
- Wheelchair Taxis are available at: 1-800-043-187 or +61-2 9332-0200
Customers should be aware that there may be a surcharge for using a credit card to pay for taxis.
Keeping in contact
Before you leave home, you should provide your family and friends, and TMT, with details of your flights to Australia and where you will be staying when you arrive. (Do not change these details without informing them.) Once you have arrived in Australia, you should then let your family and friends know that you have arrived safely. It is important to ALWAYS let someone know where you are and how to contact you by phone, email or by post.
You should read this section carefully, and discuss the issues raised in this section with the bank or financial institution in your home country before you leave. All banks operate differently and you should be aware of all fees, charges, ease of access to your funds, and safety of the way in which you will access those funds.
How much money to bring
You will need to make sure you have enough funds to support you when you first arrive. It is recommended that you have approximately AU$1500 to AU$2000 available for the first two to three weeks to pay for temporary accommodation and transport.
Please note that it is not safe to bring large sums of money with you! Lost credit cards can be replaced, but very few travel insurance companies will replace lost or stolen cash. Do not ask someone you have just met to handle your cash for you or to take your cash to make payments for you. Not even someone who may claim they are studying at TMT.
Only Australian currency can be used in Australia. If you have not brought some with you, you will need to do so as soon as possible after arrival. You can do this at the airport. Once you have arrived in Sydney you can also change money at any bank or at currency exchanges.
You can transfer money into Australia by electronic telegraph or telegraphic transfer at any time. This is a fast option and will take approximately 48 hours, but the bank will charge a fee on every transaction.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)
Automatic Teller Machines are located everywhere (including at the airport) and you can immediately withdraw cash from your overseas bank account at ATMs displaying the Cirrus Logo (if your ATM card has international access). Check this with your financial institution before leaving home.
All major international credit cards are accepted in Australia but you must remember that repayments to many of these cards can only be made in the country where they were issued. Do not rely on being able to get a credit card once you arrive in Australia because this is very difficult due to credit and identification laws. However you will be able to apply for a Visa or Mastercard debit card with a local bank in Australia.
Generally, the price you pay for accommodation will determine its quality.
Hotels, Motels and Backpackers
Generally, the price you pay for accommodation will determine its quality. However, it can be expensive to stay in a good quality motel or hotel for a long period of time. Backpacker accommodation is relatively inexpensive but you may need to bring your own pillow and sleeping bag if you choose this option.
Staying with friends or family
If you know someone in Australia, this is a great way to settle into life here. Your friends or family can provide advice, support and encouragement in your first days in Australia. However, if you are under the age of 18 you must obtain approval from your education provider first.
Bringing my family
Most student visas allow you to bring your family members to Australia as your dependants (check your individual circumstances with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship See: Arranging Visas). Family members include your spouse, and you and your spouse’s dependent children. Before bringing your spouse or children to Australia, you will have to prove that you can support them financially. The cost of supporting a family in Australia is very high. You may have to consider and discuss many issues with your family.
Issues to consider
Rather than bringing your family together with you to Australia, some students may find it useful to arrive first, settle into studies, find appropriate accommodation, adjust to living in Australia and then arrange for their family to join them.
Before making a decision to bring your family to Australia it is important to consider the following issues:
- The cost of airfares for your family to and from Australia;
- Possible higher rent for a larger home;
- Limited employment opportunities for your spouse;
- Extra costs for food, clothing and other necessities;
- The effect on you and your studies if your family is not happy in Australia;
- Whether your children will adjust to school in Australia;
- Waiting lists for childcare centres; and
- Whether to come alone to Australia first and arrange things for your family or to all come at the same time.
For more information visit: www.immi.gov.au