Student visa to Australia
If you are going to study in Australia for a longer period of time you will need to apply for a student visa. Here we guide you through the application process step by step.
If you are taking a short program, for example a language course, of maximum 12 weeks you can use a tourist visa. If you have a Working Holiday visa you are allowed to study for 16 weeks. For university studies and all longer programs you will need to apply for a student visa by following the steps below:
1. Apply to a school in Australia and get a CoE
Before you can apply for a student visa to Australia you must be enrolled at an Australian school. After you have received an offer letter from a school, accepted the offer in writing and paid their tuition deposit the school will send you a CoE, Confirmation of Enrolment. You will need this document to begin your visa application. If you will take for several programs, for example first take a preparatory language course and then study at college, you will need one CoE for each program.
2. Create an account with the Australian immigration authorities
Nowadays you normally apply online for Australian visas. Before you start your visa application you have to create an account at https://online.immi.gov.au/lusc/register
They will ask you to submit your name, phone number and e-mail address. Then you get to create a password and accept their conditions.
3. Make sure that you have all the needed documents in digital format
To apply for a student visa you will need the following documents:
- Your CoE
- An OSHC health insurance. See our study abroad insurance FAQ
- Passport that preferably should be valid for your whole stay in Australia since it will be troublesome to exchange your passport there when you study on a student visa
- Proof of temporary stay: on your application you will have to certify that you only plan to stay temporary in Australia. You can support this claim by attaching a proof of employment or a letter from your school in your home country or similar documents.
Depending on where you apply from and where you will study additional documents will be needed. Some common documents you might need are:
- Additional id documents such as a birth certificate
- Proof that you can finance your studies, such as a bank statement
- Proof that you have enough knowledge to pass your intended studies, such as certified grade reports and IELTS-test result.
- Proof of previous employment such as an employment contract, pay checks etc.
- Documentation of criminal offenses if you have ever been convicted.
- To get a more complete document list go to https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/500- and scroll down to Document Checklist tool. There you fill in your nationality and school and get a detailed list of needed documents.
If you apply online all documents should be uploaded in a digital format. So it is good if you have access to a scanner when you do the application or you can scan everything in advance. All documents should be translated to English by a certified translator. You can save your application and continue later if you miss some documents.
4. Complete the visa application online
You should apply for a student visa subclass 500. The application can be made at the earliest 124 days before your course starts (according to the date on your CoE). You apply online at: https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/500-
On the first page you fill in you nationality and your CoE code(s). You should also choose your Education sector, for example ELICOS for language courses or Higher Education for courses that leads to a university degree. More information is available on the form.
Thereafter you will be asked to submit personal details, family details, answer questions about your previous education and work experience, and submit details about your health and criminal record. You can save the application and take a break if you want.
5. Pay the visa fee and get a TRN-number
When you have completed the application you should pay the application fee which currently is 550 AUD. The easiest is to pay it with a credit card online. Read more about the payment here: https://www.border.gov.au/Lega/Lega/Help/how-to-pay
When the application and payment is done you will get a receipt with a TRN-number (Transaction Reference Number). Make sure to save it so you can check the status of your application.
6. Possible health checkup and interview
Depending on where you will study and where you live you might also need to do a health checkup and/or a visa interview. You will receive this information about this when you complete the application above if it applies to you.
Don’t do the health checkup before you have completed the application as you will need your TRN-number and you will get instructions on what you need to check. On this page you can find doctors in your country that are approved by the Australian Immigrations to do this checkup.
7. Get your visa decision
How long it takes to get you visa decision depends on where you are applying from and how busy the Australian immigration authorities are. In our experience you usually get your decision within one or a couple of weeks once your application is complete. You can check the status of your application by logging in to the immigration website (with the account you created in step 2) and if needed enter your TNR-number. Login at: http://www.border.gov.au/immiaccount
Normally the Australian authorities will notify you by e-mail once your visa decision is ready. Your visa is electronic so if you want a physical proof of you can print the grant letter that you receive online once your visa is approved.
8. Travel to Australia
Once you have received your visa you can enter Australia at the earliest 90 days before the course start date printed on your CoE. If you have not booked accommodation through your school you should inform them of your address in Australia within 7 days of arriving there.
Usually you have the right to stay in Australia for 30 days after your course ends or 60 days if your course lasts longer than 10 months. All these date limits should be written on your visa and if that information differs from what we write here you should always follow the instructions on your visa.
Read more about studying in Australia!
Disclaimer: Please note that the Australian authorities can make changes to the visa application process without notifying us. Different rules can apply to different nationalities so always read the instructions from the immigration authorities carefully. The information in the article above is correct to the best of our knowledge but we cannot be held responsible for any error that might occur without our knowledge. When in doubt always trust the official sources and check with them if needed.
Parts of this article was written based on input from our school IH Sydney which we are happy to recommend for language courses in Australia.