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Australia: How do I obtain a visa to study?

If you wish to study in Australia, you must apply for a Student Subclass visa within one of the following categories.

  • English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS)
  • Primary or Secondary School Course
  • Vocational Education and Training (VET)
  • Higher Education (Bachelor's Degrees and Post-Secondary Certificates)
  • Postgraduate Research (Master's or Doctoral Degrees)
  • Non-Award (Full-time Nondegree Granting Programs)
  • AusAID and Defence

For all Student Subclass visa applications processed after April 2, 2011, visas will be assigned according to one of five assessment levels. Your assessment level is dependent on your country of residence and your planned study program. Nearly all student applicants from the United States, Hong Kong, Taiwan and western Europe, along with applicants from some South American countries will be assigned assessment level 1 visas. Applicants from the People's Republic of China, Lebanon, Pakistan and many countries within southern Asia, Africa and the Middle East will be assigned assessment level 4, 3 or 2 visas.

Parents or guardians may also apply for a Student Guardian visa to accompany minor children who are studying in Australia. You may also bring immediate family members with you while you are studying in Australia. Immediate family members include unmarried, dependent children or stepchildren under age 18 and either legally-married spouses or de facto partners (heterosexual or same-sex partners). You must have been living with your de facto partner for at least 12 months prior to applying for your partner to accompany you to Australia under a Student Subclass visa.

If you were granted a Student Subclass visa after April 26, 2008, you will also be allowed to work up to 20 hours per week while your program is not in session. Work that is included in your educational program and most volunteer work is not included in this limitation. Family members traveling with you are also eligible to work up to 20 hours per week at any time while you are enrolled in school. If you are enrolled in master's or doctoral level studies and have submitted your thesis, you may work unlimited hours. Your family members may also work without weekly hourly limits.

As a student enrolled in an educational institution within Australia, you must have health insurance. If you do not have a policy that will cover you while you are in Australia, you may purchase coverage through the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) scheme for up to five years, with the option to renew coverage if necessary.


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