Australia recently introduced new immigration changes in 2020 in light of COVID 19. What are those changes for international students?
On 20th July the Australian Government announced a number of changes in the student visa arrangements to support international students. These five visa changes are an attempt of the Morrison Government to ensure that “Australia remains a priority destination for international students” even in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The changes include:
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 be able to make arrangements to travel.
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.
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.
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.
Additional time will be given for applicants to provide English language results where COVID-19 has disrupted access to these services.
Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said the changes provide assurance to the international students already in Australia and those who have not been able to travel due to COVID-19 border closures.
Australia prides itself on being a welcoming nation with a world-class education system and abundant opportunities for international students. According to the media release, international students are extremely important to Australia and it's economy as they contribute $40 billion annually and support 250,000 jobs. These changes will help to give international students confidence in their visa arrangements so that they can make plans to study in Australia when it is safe to do so.
Benefits to students
A visa fee-waiver will be available to students on student visas who have been unable to complete their studies within their original visa validity because of COVID-19 and need to lodge a further student visa application to complete their course.
The Department of Home Affairs will continue to allow additional time for applicants to provide English language test results if students are unable to take a test in their home country because of COVID-19. Additional time will also be provided to undertake biometric collection and health checks where COVID-19 has disrupted access to services.
The government has also moved to recognize time spent in online studies outside of Australia in cases where a student’s program of study has transitioned to online delivery because of COVID-19 towards the requirements of a post-study work visa. Further, graduates who previously held a student visa will now be able to apply for a post-study work visa from outside of Australia if they are unable to return to the country due to COVID-related travel restrictions.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused drastic changes to the policies and laws regulating student visas in Australia. The international education sector is the fourth largest export sector in Australia where the economy is greatly benefited from this industry. Currently, due to the pandemic, many international students are unable to return to the country to continue their studies due to border closure. In order to ensure the continuation of the courses, universities are conducting many of their courses online.
These new visa changes in support of international students is an initiative to gradually revive the industry and help Australia remain competitive as the priority study option.