Congratulations! You’ve been accepted by an Australian university. Now it’s time to think about your student visa. You should apply for your visa as soon as possible – at least two months before you begin classes.
Each person applying for a student visa from the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) must meet certain standards. The standards are a bit more severe if you are an Assessment Level 3 or 4 student, rather than an Assessment Level 2 or 3 student. (See Understanding Assessment Levels for more on this topic.)
All students from Africa, and most other nations, must apply for their first student visa before they enter the country. You cannot go to Australia as a tourist and then apply for a student visa from within the country.
An essential part of your visa application is the financial information. You’ll need to provide evidence to the DIMIA that you are able to support yourself, including paying your school fees, while you are in the country. Although you will probably be allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during the school term, this can’t be counted as part of your financial evidence.
Fully funded students need to show only a minimum amount of financial resources to obtain a student visa. These are students whose education is being paid for by a scholarship or grant. Some fully funded students receive money from their home country, while others receive funds from Australian companies, the UN, the World Bank or other sources.
You’ll also need to demonstrate that you speak English well enough to complete the course you have chosen. Normally, you will have completed an English test as part of the university application process. The DIMIA will also determine that you are a genuine student. They’ll consider if your past grades and education are consistent with the program you’re enrolling in.
In Australia, as in other countries, it’s very helpful to demonstrate that you have strong reasons to return to your home country once your education is completed. This may include family members who remain in your native country, or a business or other financial resources. All of these factors will convince the DIMIA official that you intend to return to Africa once your education is complete.
Your student visa is usually granted for 2 months longer than your course of study. If your course of study ends in November or December, your student visa will be valid until March 15 of the following year. If your course of study is 10 months or less, your student visa will be valid for 30 days after the end of your course.
Your student visa allows you to leave Australia and return. You can bring your family members including spouse and dependent children to Australia with you. Boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 15 will have to conform to Australian law by attending school. If you leave Australia for any reason, such as visiting your home country, your dependents must accompany you.
Before your student visa is issued, you’ll need to obtain Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), which provides medical and hospital insurance. OSHC ensures that you will have medical care while you are visiting, at no expense to the Australian government. You’ll need to include proof of OSHC payment with your visa application. While you’re in Australia, you’ll need to maintain your student visa by attending class at least 80% of the time, and earning passing marks in your courses.