Australia introduces new study visa assistance to support international students

To provide some backing to international students in wake of the pandemic, the Australian government has adopted several new measures. Now, students will get access to an international student Covid-19 visa fee refund. In addition to this, there will also be a temporary removal of limits on working hours for student visa holders belonging to subclass 500. 

Replacement Temporary Graduate visas will be provided and students will get to avail themselves of extended graduate ‘stay and work’ periods under subclass 485. According to the new rules, all those students and dependents who are visa holders and arrive in Australia between 19 January 2022 and 19 March 2022, are going to be returned their visa application fee. This would save such students an expense of almost AU $630 or 460 USD.

If you meet the above criteria and are eligible for a refund, you will need to create an account on the Home Affairs Visa Refund Portal to claim it. You will get 9 months to fill the form as the last claim date is 31 December, 2022. Thus, ensure that you make no errors while completing the application process. 

Another relief measure is for students who held a student visa on or after 1st February, 2020 but due to unforeseen circumstances, were unable to complete their course in the original visa time period mentioned. However, this must be because of the far-reaching impacts of Covid, and not any other reason. Such students will get their entire visa application fee (VAC) waived when applying for a new student visa.

Moreover, some universities would require international students to provide a standardized English language test result as part of the admissions process. In case students are unable to appear for these exams due to disruptions caused by the pandemic, they can seek extra time. This method also applies to biometric collections and health checks. Students should use their ImmiAccount to ask for additional time from the concerned authorities. 

Previously, it was notified that the limit on working hours for students has temporarily been lifted until April 2022. However, students still need to meet the criteria for satisfactory course enrolment, attendance and progress requirements. International students too are under the jurisdiction of Australia’s workplace laws and can report any malpractice to the Fair Work Ombudsman. 

Visa extensions are in the process of implentation. This is particularly applicable for those graduates who were in possession of a Temporary Graduate visa between between 1st February, 2020 and 14th December, 2021 but could not stay in the country due to restrictions imposed during the pandemic. These students under subclass 485 will get a replacement visa provided by the Australian government. 

From 18th February, 2022, this extension will allow eligible graduates to enter or remain in Australia and work, until they receive a replacement Temporary Graduate visa. As of now, the application process for this is supposed to begin by 1st July, 2022. Another clause under this extension has increased the length of stay from two to three years for Masters by Coursework graduates. This puts these students on the same footing as Masters by Research graduates. 

Those who were enrolled in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector will also receive a two year Temporary Graduate visa. For more details or updates, be on the lookout for official notifications from the Department of Home Affairs.