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What you need to know about the Simplified Student Visa Framework

As you may already know, the Australian Government implemented the new Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF) on 1 July 2016 to support Australia’s education services sector. Although this is great news for overseas students wanting to apply for student visas in Australia, many people have been asking a number of different questions, the most common of all being…”what does this mean for me?”

In a nutshell, these changes mean that the process of applying for a student visa is now simpler and more effective than ever before. How? Well, luckily, we’ve summarised all your most frequently asked questions with answers to match in the hope that all your SSVF queries will be answered!

Why has the the Streamline Visa Processing (SVP) changed to the Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF)?

The SVP is quite complex with all its subclasses, assessment level frameworks and visa processing arrangements.  More often than not, the processing alone becomes tedious and stressful, not only for overseas students and agents, but to the Immigration Department and education sectors as well.

According to the Australian Government, “The SSVF has been designed to make the process of applying for a student visa simpler to navigate for genuine students, deliver a more targeted approach to immigration integrity and reduce red tape for business”.

What are the most significant changes?

  • The reduction of eight subclasses to only two. These being: Student Visa (subclass 500) and Student Guardian Visa (subclass 590).
  • The introduction of a single immigration risk framework wherein all foreign students will be assessed, regardless of their chosen course of study.
  • The use of ImmiAccount, where all applications for student visas and student guardian visas must be completed. This means the application process is now all online.

What does the Student Visa (subclass 500) cover?

This visa allows international students to study in a recognised education institution on a full-time basis.

What are its requirements?

  • To be qualified for this visa, students must have applied for, and been accepted to, study in a registered full-time course at an educational institution in Australia.
  • International students below the age of 18 must have organised suitable welfare arrangements for the duration of their stay in Australia.

What does the Student Guardian Visa (subclass 590) cover?

This visa is intended for parents or guardians of international students under the age of 18 holding student visas in Australia.

What are its requirements?

  • To be qualified for this visa, the person should be at least 21 years old and have custody of the student. 
  • They should not bring family members below the age of six along, except under certain circumstances.
  • They should be capable of providing accommodation, general welfare and other support to the student.

What is a single immigration risk framework?

With the new and simpler framework, the amount of evidence will depend on the combined immigration risk outcomes of the students’ chosen education provider and their country of citizenship. That said, students associated with the lowest immigration risk will have evidentiary requirements streamlined, and those with the highest immigration risk will have the “regular” evidentiary requirements.

Applications processed under streamlined visas will have fewer documents of evidence, compared with the regular ones where applicants are required to provide additional evidence.

There’s a Checklist Tool from the Government that will help students determine the right documents they need to proceed with their application. It is fully functional and accessible at any level of the visa application process.

What are the financial capacity requirements?

International students must have sufficient funds to meet their daily expenses and tuition costs throughout their study abroad programs in Australia. For international students classified in the high-risk immigration category based on their chosen education provider and country of origin, they are more likely required to provide additional evidence of their financial capacity. In that case, they need to provide 

  • Evidence of sufficient funds that can cover 1 year tuition fee, travel to Australia and 12 months of living costs and school fees of dependent children
  • Evidence of meeting the required annual income of at least $60,000, or $70,000 when accompanied by a family, or 
  • For secondary exchange students, an Acceptance Advice of Secondary Exchange Students (AASES) form.

Generally, student visa applicants who are classified in the low-risk immigration category will only need to declare that they are financially capable of supporting themselves and meeting their school fees.

What are the responsibilities of education providers?

The SSVF will not only create an equal environment for Australian education providers, but will also lessen the burden when it comes to ensuring the compliance of foreign students with immigration rules. However, it is the responsibility of education providers to report students who do not comply with the course requirements of their visas, achieve satisfactory attendance, complete their enrolled courses, or maintain satisfactory course progress. 

For international students under 18 years of age, education providers must approve welfare arrangements. They need to report through PRISMS for any changes to the care arrangements, such as changes in the type of accommodation.

If you require assistance regarding the changes and how they may affect your current visa, feel free to speak with IDP’s support services team.

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