The Student visa (subclass 500) is for applicants who are enrolled in a course of study, postgraduate research students in Australia who are required to remain in Australia until their thesis is marked or Foreign Affairs or Defence students supported by the DFAT/Defence. Naturally an important document when applying for the Student visa (subclass 500) is evidence of enrolment.
Course of study may refer to a full time course of study under a secondary exchange program that is administered by a State/Territory education authority, a full time course of study or training under a scholarship scheme or training program approved by the Foreign Minister or Defence Minister or other other full time CRICOS registered course.
Evidence of enrolment
CRICOS registered course students must produce a current Certificate of Enrolment (CoE) with a status of ‘approved’ or ‘studying’.
Secondary exchange students will need to present an ASSES form.
Foreign Affairs and Defence students will need to present a letter of support from DFAT/Defence containing details of the intended course of study.
Postgraduate research students must provide a letter for postgraduate thesis marking issued by the relevant Australian education provider.
The applicant must provide all information necessary to the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA). If not provided, the DOHA may not request further information and may chooset to reject the application.
Changes in course
Significant changes in course type or discipline after lodgement but before decision would cause the DOHA to take a look at if the applicant meets the genuine temporary entrant (GTE) criteria.
This would best be avoided. If it cannot be, any evidence to support that the applicant would still fulfil the GTE requirement would be beneficial to the application. Changes would not be considered significant where:
- A student provides a new CoE for the same Diploma and Advanced Diploma program, but with new start and end dates because they have missed or deferred their start date
- A student provides new CoEs for a different Diploma and Advanced Diploma because their original provider is in default
Applicants outside Australia
Applicants outside Australia cannot use a letter of offer as evidence. A CoE (or otherwise as listed above) is required for each intended course of study.
Applicants in Australia – Relying on a letter of offer
Applicants in Australia can provide a Letter of Offer at the point at which they lodge their application but must, prior to decision, provide the CoE to the DOHA.
Packages and principal courses
Applicants can apply to undertake two or more courses on one visa; this is known as “packaging” courses. It provides flexibility for students to apply for one visa for several courses where there is a progression from one course to another, without added visa processing times and costs.
Assessing ‘acceptable’ course packages
The DOHA will consider the grant of a visa based on the length of the packaged course and will take note on if packaged courses are related and shows a reasonable course progression. This fits into the GTE requirement.
As such, applications with packages of unrelated courses with limited or no progression would be considered to be contrary to the GTE requirement.
Visa validity for packaged courses
For the visa to be granted for the full duration of the packaged course, a CoE for each course is required. Even where all CoEs are provided, the DOHA will not generally issue a via with a validity for more than 5 years.
If an applicant has a CoE only for the preliminary course and not their proposed principal course, they are likely to only be granted a visa validity that allows them to complete their preliminary course. A further Student 500 visa will need to be applied for provided they meet the criteria applicable to their proposed principal course, including financial capacity.
Acceptable gaps between courses in a package
Students applying for packaged courses may do so provided that there is no more than two calendar months between courses during the standard teaching year, and no more than four months between courses outside of the standard academic year. This refers to periods such as the Christmas break. A standard academic year generally ends in October/November and starts again in February/March of the following year.
For example, a student has finished their course part way through the academic year (June) or at the end of the academic year will respectively be granted visas which are valid for 2 months after their course end date or to 15 March in the following year. In this situation, the student is entitled to remain in Australia for this period and will have up until the visa end date in which to apply for a further visa and therefore they would legitimately be in a situation where the gap between courses may be more than 2 months.