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Reforms on student visa – Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF)

6 May 2016

The Government announced the introduction of SSVF in June last year to support the education services sector. Subject to the regulatory change process, it is expected that the SSVF will be implemented by mid-2016.  

Key changes under the SSVF are:-

  • A reduction in student visa subclasses from 8 to 2 – which are Student visa (Subclass 500) and Student Guardian Subclass 590).
  • Introduction of a simplified single immigration risk framework for all international students 

It replaces both the Streamlined Visa Processing (SVP) arrangements and Assessment Level (AL) Framework. Students will apply for a single student visa subclass and be assessed under a single immigration risk framework. The single immigration risk framework will guide a student’s financial and English language evidentiary requirements based on the immigration risk outcomes of their country of citizenship and intended education provider. Where the combination of these factors indicates lower risk, the student will have ‘streamlined evidentiary requirements’ and generally will not need to provide evidence of financial and English language capacity with their visa application. 

In the table below, S refers to streamlined evidentiary requirements while R refers to regular evidentiary requirements. Where regular evidentiary requirements apply the student will generally be required to provide evidence of their financial and English language capacity with their visa application.  
Assessment Level (AL) Framework comprises 3 assessment levels (AL1 to AL3) with former AL4 countries reduced to AL3. The financial requirement for AL3 student visa applicants is reduced from 18 months to 12 months. Consequently, funds for AL3 applicants are required to be provided by the visa applicant of their close relative. The higher the AL, the greater are the evidentiary requirements that apply.

There will be no SVP but the stricter requirements including the GTE (genuine temporary entrant) will apply to all. We can expect the visa process to slow down once it is implemented.

What remains unchanged are :-

  • The Universities will still need to manage its immigration risk by GTE assessing high risk applicants and requiring education agents to vet applicants they recruit to the University
  • The Post Study Work visa will not be affected by SSVF

Furthermore, the holders of visas 426, 403, 995, 771 and 600 (Sponsored Family stream or approved Destination Status stream) are not eligible to apply for a student visa in Australia. For the student visa (Subclass 500), exemption to the English language requirement applies to certain type of applicants as specified in the Instruments. If the applicant is not exempted, the maximum time periods in which an English test must be taken is 2 years immediately before the date the application is made or 2 years immediately before a decision is made on the application. In regards to student guardian (Subclass 590), the first 12 months of the applicant’s living costs must be provided – Student and Student guardian ($19,830); spouse or de facto partner ($6,940); dependent children ($2,970). 

For those applicants who cannot provide adequate living costs expenditure, the primary applicant’s spouse or partner can show evidence of personal annual income of $60,000 (for individual subclass 500 applicant) or $70,000 if one or more members of the applicant family unit are seeking to satisfy the secondary criteria for the student visa or student guardian visa.

Subsequent temporary applications charge of $700 is payable for both subclasses 500 and 590 visa applications.      

The SSVF represents an exciting opportunity to build on Australia’s international competitiveness and the government is working closely with the international education sector to ensure that it is implemented effectively. 

If you have any questions about your current Australian student visa or you are thinking of studying in Australia and need assistance with the visa application process, please contact us on 03-9078 6819 or email us at team@thinkvisa.com.au. Alternatively, visit www.thinkvisa.com.au for more information about us.     

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