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Student visa for Australia - big changes to the visa regime

Mid 2015, Australian Government announced the introduction of a simplified international student visa framework (SSVF) to support Australia's education service sector. These changes are due to come into effect mid 2016 and will replace the current SVP (Streamlined Visa Processing) framework, which is due to expire on 30th June 2016.

Key changes under the SSVF are:
  • a reduction in the number of student visa sub-classes from eight to two (student and guardian); and

  • the introduction of a simplified single immigration risk framework for all international students, replacing the existing Streamlined Visa Processing (SVP) arrangements and the Assessment Level framework.

What will remain the same?
  • Student visa applicants will continue to be assessed against the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) criteria;

  • The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the Department) will still have the ability to request additional evidence from applicants at their discretion;

  • The University will still need to manage its immigration risk by GTE assessing high risk applicants and requiring our education agents to vet applicants they recruit to the University; and

  • The Post Study Work Visa (PSWV) will not be affected by the new SSVF.

Under SSVF, evidentiary requirements will be based on the combined immigration risk of the student’s country of citizenship and their chosen education provider.

The following matrix provides a possible snapshot of the new changes:

The new visa framework is designed to improve upon the current SVP framework, where "exclusive SVP approved providers had the benefit of reduced evidentiary requirements" against those outside the SVP club". The extent to which the SVP providers benefited against the non SVP ones is significant, as per the data from DIBP (Department of Immigration And Border Protection), which states that "In 2013 /14 SVP Providers had a visa grant rate of 96.1% versus 85.4% for non-SVP providers".

As much as SVP-approved schools have appreciated the simpler and faster visa processing their students receive, there has also been a significant financial burden entailed by their participation in the programme. The average expense per provider to fulfil SVP obligations has been estimated by DIBP at AUS$249,300.

How this new visa regime impacts the biggest source markets - China and Indian sub-continent is something that the industry has mixed predictions about. Something which we all are eager to look forward to.....


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