A student visa may be appropriate if you are looking to complete an education course in Australia, where the course duration is at least four months.

The key visa requirements for an Australian student visa are the following:

Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE)

As the primary visa applicant, you will need to demonstrate that you have the genuine intention to stay in Australia on a temporary basis only for the purpose of study. The Department may consider the following factors to determine if you satisfy this discretionary requirement:

  • Your personal history in terms of studies, and/or work experience
  • Your circumstances in Australia, such as whether you already have any family already living in Australia
  • How your proposed course/s will help with your future prospects outside of Australia
  • Your circumstances in your home country, including relevant information in relation to your personal circumstances, family circumstances, business, work, on-going studies etc.
  • Your migration and international travel history, if any

Generally speaking, the Department will assess and decide whether this requirement is satisfied based on the information, forms and documents which you submit with your student visa application.

The Department may contact you to arrange for an interview and/or call to discuss this visa requirements, and/or other aspects of your application, although we generally find that such interviews and/or calls are rare.

We find that it is more likely that the Department would send you an email or letter asking you to provide further information and/or documents if this is required. If you receive such a request from the Department, then you need to respond to this within the allowed time frame which is specified in the Department’s request email or letter.

Hence, as the Department will generally assess and decide the GTE requirement based on the information and documents that you provide,  we generally recommend that you prepare a letter explaining why you believe that you satisfy this requirement:

Example GTE letter

  1. I would like to study in Australia on a temporary basis so that I can complete a Diploma of Cinema Production at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Perth Australia.
  2. I would like to complete this course because this will assist in both my professional and personal development.
  3. Since I graduated from University in November 2015, I have worked in various acting roles. I am currently employed by a production company 21 Laps Entertainment in Jacksonville, Georgia, in the role of Lead Actress. I have held this role since January 2017.
  4. My extension work experience, and long-term employment in both my current role, and prior employment roles that I held demonstrates that I am a highly employable person in my home country, and I can now earn a relatively high level of income in the United States of America based on my current qualifications and experience.
  5. I have provided the ‘View Worker: Millie Bobby Brown’ which is a print out of my personal and current information from my work with 21 Laps Entertainment. This document demonstrates that I was paid an annual salary of around USD $80,000 for the 2017 financial year (around AUD $113,000 per annum based on today’s exchange rates). I have also provided a copy of my employment contract with 21 Laps Entertainment, and recent payslips.
  6. I also provide my tax return for the 2016 financial year, which demonstrates that I earned an annual income of USD $150,485.64.
  7. I would like to complete a production qualification in Australia so that I can further develop my current professional skill set. Completing these foundation production related subjects will allow me to better understand industry practice, as well as acquire skills in the performing arts industry, which will immensely help in my current professional role of Actress. This will allow me to develop and consolidate my current knowledge level, and also go beyond my current knowledge which has been accumulated from experience and personal learning. I will be able to better understand the production information, terminology and correspondence that I handle on behalf of senior management.
  8. Living in Australia for a period of around 12 months will also help with my personal development outside of work. I have travelled to numerous countries around the world for holidays (I have provided a spreadsheet which lists my prior travels), but I have never had a chance to live in any other country for any extended period of time. I would love the opportunity to live in Australia for around a 12-month period, which will no doubt get me out of my comfort zone.
  9. Australia would be an ideal place for myself and my partner, Romeo Beckham, to live for around 12 months. I know that there are a lot of similarities between Australia and my home country, including the same language, how business and work operates, how schooling and education is provided, social activities and culture etc. This will help me get accustomed to living outside of the United States of America, which is another important reason for why I have chosen Australia as my preferred destination for study.
  10. I wanted to choose a country with a great reputation in terms of its education qualification, is safe and welcoming, is similar to my home country in terms of language, culture, schooling, work etc. Australia is the ideal country for all these purposes.
  11. My partner, Romeo Beckham, has actually lived in Australia for a few years, from December 2016 to January 2017 as a working holiday visa holder. He lived in Perth during this time, and he is very familiar with this city. Romeo has told me about all the great things that we can do in Perth, including the great weather, beaches, parks, bars and restaurants. Perth sounds a lot like Atlanta in terms of being a big city with people from all over the world. I really look forward to the opportunity to visit Australia for the first time myself.
  12. I can confirm that Romeo and I only intend to stay in Australia on a temporary basis while I complete my Diploma of Cinema Production at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Perth qualification. I definitely intend to return to the United States of America, where I have all my long-term ties and where I have lived for essentially all my life except for a few overseas holidays. All my family members live in the United States of America.
  13. I also completed my Bachelor of Arts degree at New York University, and I have since completed several years of well-paid professional experience. I intend to return to the United States of America so that I can further pursue my professional career after I complete a Diploma of Cinema Production qualification. I believe that with this additional qualification, I will be even more employable, and I should be able to negotiate an even higher salary for myself.
  14. I can confirm that I will earn a higher level of income in the United States of America relative to Australia, because I have extensive experience in the US labour market. I do not have similar experience in Australia, hence I would not be able to secure such a high paying job. Hence, I can confirm that I do not have any incentive to breach my visa conditions, or overstay beyond the validity period of any visa issued to me.

Confirmation of Enrolment (COE)

The education institute where you wish to study will provide you with a Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) or a Letter of Offer, if you are successful with your course enrolment application. You can also package two or more courses together on a single student visa, where there is relevant progression from one course to another.

You will need this COE, and the reference numbers included in your COE, in order to complete your online student visa form.

If you later wish to change your course, then you can change course while you are in Australia as long as you are changing to the same or a higher study level (e.g. changing from bachelor degree course to another bachelor degree course, or a master degree or higher level course).

If you wish to change to a lower level of study, then you will need to apply for a new student visa .

English requirement

For student visa applications, the table below outlines the minimum scores accepted for each test:

English language provider test ​Minimum test score ​Minimum test score where combined with at least 10 weeks ELICOS ​Minimum test score where combined with at least 20 weeks ELICOS
​International English Language Testing System ​5.5 ​5 ​4.5
​Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) paper based* ​527 ​500 ​450
​TOEFL internet based test ​46 ​35 ​32
​Cambridge English: Advanced (Certificate in Advanced English) ​162 ​154 ​147
​Pearson Test of English Academic ​42 ​36 ​30
​Occupational English Test** ​Pass ​Pass ​Pass

*The TOEFL paper based test will only be accepted from limited countries.

** The Occupational English Test includes a mark between A and E. An A or B is considered a pass.

You are deemed to satisfy the English language requirement for a student visa if any of the following apply to the primary visa applicant:

  • Completed at least five years of study in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa or the Republic of Ireland
  • Citizens and passport holders of the United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland
  • Students who have successfully completed the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education or study at Certificate IV level or higher in Australia within two years of applying for a student visa
  • Students enrolled full time in school studies as a principal course (including secondary exchange programs), postgraduate research or a standalone ELICOS program
  • Foreign Affairs or Defence sponsored students

However, in addition to satisfying the English requirement for a 500 Student visa, you will need to satisfy English language requirements to gain entry into the nominated course/s as specified by the relevant school, university, college etc. The required level of English language proficient is decided by the relevant education institution.

For example, for most Bachelor degree undergraduate degrees, Australian universities will require the following minimum English language test scores:

English language test Indication of scores required for Bachelor degree course
IELTS Average score of 6.0 to 6.5

No band less than 5.5 to 6.0

TOEFL Average score of 60 to 90
CAE Average score of 169 to 176

No band less than 169

PTE Average score of 50 to 64

You should check the website of the relevant education institution for course entry requirements, including English language requirements. If you do not currently satisfy English language requirements for your desired course, you may consider completing an ELICOS program in order to improve your English ability.

You can package ELICOS with other courses. There is a minimum English language requirement when a course is packaged with English which depends on the amount of ELICOS undertaken (shown in the table above). There is no limit on the amount of ELICOS that can be studied. However, if your ELICOS course is more than 12 months you should provide lots of information with your visa application showing how you meet the genuine temporary entrant (GTE) requirement.

Financial requirement

You can demonstrate that you have the financial means to cover the cost of your course fees, and cost of living in Australia, by providing evidence of the income for yourself and/or your partner (only if your partner is not included in your visa application, and will not be travelling to Australia with you) or your parents.

If you intend to demonstrate income, then you will need to show at least AUD60,000 in eligible annual income, or AUD70,000 if you are including your family members in your visa application. The following types of documents may assist with demonstrating this eligible annual income:

  • Government issued tax records
  • Payslips
  • Employment contract
  • Bank statements showing salary payments

Alternatively, you can provide documents to demonstrate that you have the financial means to cover the cost of your course fees, and cost of living with the following types of evidence:

  • Savings/deposits in a bank/financial institution
  • Loan with an approved financial institution
  • Scholarship

The Department’s requirements define the following cost of living for student visa applicants:

  • AUD 20,290 for the student or guardian
  • AUD 7,100 for the partner or spouse
  • AUD 3,040 for each child

Documents checklist & form

All Student 500 visa applications are lodged as online applications, which you can prepare and lodge by creating and Immiaccount with the Department’s website.

Generally speaking, you need to upload the following supporting documents to your online student visa application after payment and lodgement (the actual documents that you need to upload will vary depending on your visa application and circumstances):

  • Passports for all applicants
  • Marriage certificate if applicable
  • Birth certificates for all applicants
  • Certificate of Enrolment (COE)
  • Documents demonstrating that you satisfy the financial requirement
  • Documents demonstrating that you satisfy the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement
  • English language ability evidence, or results if required
  • Police criminal record check results
  • Four recent passport-sized photographs for all applicants
  • Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) policy letter

The Department’s current processing time is around 4-8 weeks, or potentially longer for complex applications:

Stream 75 per cent of applications processed 90 per cent of applications processed
Foreign Affairs or Defence Sector 24 days 40 days
Postgraduate Research Sector 35 days 57 days
Non-Award Sector 14 days 33 days
Schools Sector 38 days 68 days
Independent ELICOS Sector 23 days 36 days
Vocational Education and Training Sector 29 days 48 days
Higher Education Sector 21 days 28 days

Last updated 19 September 2018 (for month ending 31 August 2018)

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

All student visa holders, including dependent family member student visa holders, are required to hold valid Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), which you can purchase from one of the five approved providers:

  • Australian Health Management
  • BUPA Australia
  • Medibank Private
  • Allianz Global Assistance
  • nib OSHC

Swedish citizens who purchase health insurance through Kammarkollegiet will not need to purchase OSHC.

Belgian and Norwegian citizens are also not required to purchase OSHC due to existing National Health Schemes, which provide citizens with adequate health coverage while in Australia.

Visa conditions & obligations

If your course duration that is longer than 10 months and finishes at the academic year (i.e. mid-December), then your visa will usually be valid until 15 March the following year.

If your course duration that is longer than 10 months and finishes in January to October, then your student visa will usually be valid for two months following the completion of your course.

Your student visa may also include the following conditions (you should check your student visa for the specific visa conditions that you need to comply with):

  • Enter Australia on your student visa up to 90 days before your course starts
  • Within seven days of arrival, you must inform your education provider of your resident address, and also inform them within seven days if you change address
  • While on a student visa, you may work up to 40 hours per fortnight during study periods, and full-time during holiday periods
  • You are not allowed to begin working until your course has started
  • Master’s by research or a PhD student visa holders you do not have any work restrictions
  • Remain enrolled in a CRICOS-registered course, attend classes regularly and make satisfactory course progress
  • Maintain OSHC health insurance
Department decision statistics

Update (28 October 2018): Department released student visa lodged application and refusal statistics:

Year 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Total 317570 332188 358233 374294 413327
Granted 292060 299540 310845 343035 378292
Approval rate – all student visas 91.97% 90.17% 86.77% 91.65% 91.52%
Lodged in Australia 117381 115043 120500 126886 153256
Granted – Lodged in Australia 112913 112298 106969 116358 144182
Approval rate – Lodged in Australia 96.19% 97.61% 88.77% 91.70% 94.08%
Lodged outside Australia 200189 217145 237733 247408 260071
Granted – Lodged outside Australia 179147 187242 203876 226677 234110
Approval rate – Lodged outside Australia 89.49% 86.23% 85.76% 91.62% 90.02%

Number of student visa applications lodged and granted by citizenship country of primary visa applicant:

Country Lodged Approved Approval rate Lodged Approved Approval rate
Financial year – 30 June 2016-17 2017-18
China (excl SARs) 81,869 80,423 98% 90,563 87,731 97%
India 42,922 34,490 80% 58,976 49,469 84%
Nepal 23,054 18,507 80% 31,157 26,579 85%
Brazil 21,245 20,428 96% 22,758 21,721 95%
Colombia 12,138 10,992 91% 12,931 12,106 94%
South Korea 12,796 12,667 99% 12,325 11,726 95%
Malaysia 12,935 11,724 91% 12,288 11,343 92%
Vietnam 11,012 10,229 93% 11,840 10,764 91%
Thailand 12,145 10,422 86% 10,869 9,062 83%
Indonesia 9,836 9,323 95% 9,764 9,104 93%
United States of America 9,375 9,265 99% 9,039 8,808 97%
Pakistan 7,705 5,682 74% 8,517 7,279 85%
Japan 8,059 7,856 97% 8,362 8,176 98%
Taiwan 6,903 6,589 95% 7,236 6,752 93%
Sri Lanka 5,957 5,184 87% 6,772 6,055 89%
Other countries 96,343 89,254 93% 99,930 91,617 92%
TOTAL 374,294 343,035 92% 413,327 378,292 92%