The Australian Government has made some key changes to visas to provide support for international student among the disruptions caused by COVID-19. These changes aim to give international students confidence in their visa arrangements, so they can make plans to study in Australia when it is safe to do so.
In a media release published on 20 July 2020, Alan Tudge — Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs — said the changes provide assurance to international students already in Australia and those who haven’t been able to travel due to COVID-19 border closures.
“We are a welcoming nation with a world-class education system and some of the lowest rates of COVID-19 in the world. Students want to study here, and we want to welcome them back in a safe and measured way when it is safe to do so.”
The July 2020 changes to student visas in Australia
The changes to visas for international students either currently or planning to study in Australia are listed below.
1. Student visas will recommence
The Government will recommence granting student visas in all locations lodged outside Australia. This means when borders re-open, students will already have visas and can make plans to travel.
2. No charges for applications on visa extensions
International students will be able to lodge a further student visa application free of charge, if they are unable to complete their studies within their original visa validity due to COVID-19.
3. Online study will count towards your studying requirements
Student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to COVID-19 will be able to use that study to count towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa.
4. You can apply for a visa elsewhere
Graduates who held a student visa will be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa outside Australia if they are unable to return due to COVID-19.
5. Extension on English language results
Additional time will be given for applicants to provide English language results where COVID-19 has disrupted access to these services.
Aged Care work restrictions relaxed for international students
In a statement released on 18 March 2020, it was announced that work restrictions for international students working in the health, aged and disability care sectors have been relaxed during the COVID-19 pandemic. There has also been flexibility in cases where the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented international students meeting their visa conditions, such as not being able to attend classes in person.