You’ve been having a lovely time being an exchange student in Australia, and putting down some solid roots in your student housing location of choice. Soaking up the sun, studying hard-ish, making new friends, exploring the city centres, day tripping left right and centre, and leading a fabulous #ExchangeStudentLife in Oz.
But all good things must come to an end. And your student visa is not exempt from this life fact. You knew your visa expiry was coming, but you didn’t realise it was that soon.
Time to stop being blasé about renewing your student visa. You need to stop procrastinating. You need to get your affairs in order. And you need to renew your visa.
And you need to do it pronto. Because you’ll need to lodge your new student visa application before your current one expires. Otherwise you’ll be unceremoniously kicked out of Australia.
So then… how do you apply for a student visa extension?
Student Visa extensions are same same but different to applying for your original Student Visa. Just follow our simple Four-Step process and you’re on your way to renewing your stay.
Extending Student Visas in Australia
Technically speaking you can’t extend a visa! That is, you can’t extend the validity of your current visa.
To continue studying in Australia (beyond your current visa expiry) you’ll need to apply for a whole new student visa.
This means you get to follow the entire student visa process all over again. Exciting times to be had right?
This is why we recommend you apply at least three months before your current visa expires. Then you’ll have a bit less stress if there are any issues with your new visa application.
But for conversation’s sake, we’ll just refer to your new visa application as ‘renewing’ and ‘extending’.
Now that that’s all been cleared up, let’s start with the basics. You’ll need to apply for a student visa extension if:
- Your current visa will expire before you can complete your course (due to failed subjects, leave of absence, or reduced study load)
- If your research candidature has been extended
- You’ve submitted your post-graduate thesis for marking but your current visa will expire before marking is finalised, or
- You’ve commenced a new course of study. Go you!
Now, renewing your student visa is a bit of a long process. So, you’ll want to start at least a month before your current visa expires. At least! We still doggedly stick by our three-month recommendation.
If you’re applying inside Australia, you’ll (usually) be granted a Bridging Visa A (BVA). A BVA allows you to lawfully stay in Australia while your visa is processing and will come into effect once your current student visa expires.
If you’ve got itchy feet and want to travel (outside of the country) while you wait, you HAVE to run it by the Australia Government first. You’ll need to apply for a Bridging Visa B (BVB) for permission to travel.
You can make a BVB application via your ImmiAccount. The ImmiAccount is your first port of call for all visa bits and bobs.
If you’re applying outside Australia, you’ll have to wait till your student visa’s granted before re-entering the country. On the up side you can travel as much as you please without the Australian Government getting involved.
Visa Extension Step 1: Enrol
Now, the first thing you’ll need to do (pre-application submission) is get your hands on a new Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) form. You can’t extend your student visa if you’re not able to extend your studies! The logic is undeniable.
So, extend, enrol, or re-enrol in a course and get your CoE from your fave university of choice. The CoE is the #1 document you need to attach to your new student visa application.
As a side note, the course of study you enrol in must be registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions of Course for Overseas Students. So, if you are enrolling at a new institution make 100% sure it’s recognised!
Visa Extension Step 2: Health Examinations & OSHC
Like your previous student visa, you’ll need health insurance. The Government wants you to be an example of perfect health during your stay in Australia.
In this case, you’ll need to extend your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) policy until the expiry date of your new student visa. Just contact your current health insurance agency and organise to extend your policy dates. Simple stuff.
Now it doesn’t end at insurance. If your last health checks were over 12 months ago, you’ll also need to sit another set of Health Examinations as part of your new student visa application.
So, if your last examinations were a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… you’d better get your health checks underway.
Use the My Health Declarations service to determine which health examinations apply for you. To do this, go onto the ‘Health Assessment’ tab on your ImmiAccount.
Once you’ve been given a HAP ID and referral letter you can visit an approved panel clinic in Australia.
When visiting day has arrived, provide your HAP ID and referral letter to the panel clinic. This is how they’ll know which health assessments you’re personally required to undergo.
Post-exams, you can use the eMedical client service to see whether the panel gave you the “all systems are go” clearance. Make sure your (positive) health results have been submitted electronically.
Now you can go on your merry way and lodge your new student visa application.
Visa Extension Step 3: Required Documents
Once you’ve got all the main things (CoE, Health Examinations, and OSHC) sorted you’re ready to start organising your new student visa application.
This means preparing all your supporting documents!
The easiest way to do this is by using the Department of Home Affairs Document Checklist Tool. This checklist will help you to figure out which documentation you need to attach to your visa application.
Required student visa documents will include:
- Personal Documents
With personal documents you’ll need to include your:
- Birth Certificate
- Passport identity page (i.e. every page with visa sample & immigration stamp)
- National identity Card
- All pages of household registration book, and
- A curriculum vitae (certified by the local authorities)
Basically, just attach the documents that prove who you are.
- Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) codes
Attach your CoE for your existing course or new course/s you plan on studying. This is how the Australian Government knows you’re genuinely staying longer in Australia to study.
If you’re extending your student visa due to waiting period on your post-graduate thesis marking, then you’re exempt from providing a CoE code. What you will need to include is a letter from your education provider to support your claims.
- OSHC policy number
Make sure you attach the policy number of your new or extended health insurance. And ensure the policy dates match those of your new student visa.
- HAP ID number
Sure, the Department of Home Affairs has access to your medical details. But you need to ensure they can find it! You must include your HAP ID number for reference, so the assessors know you’re fine and well.
- Personal statement to satisfy the GTE requirement
Once again you need to prove to the Government you want to extend your student visa for STUDY, not for the sake of hanging around in Australia a bit longer. It’s a lovely country we know. But still, there are limits.
Include the stock standard details in your personal statement:
- Your circumstances in your home country
- Your potential circumstances in Australia
- The value of the course to your future, and
Make sure your statement is written as earnestly and detailed as possible, so you don’t get caught up in any epic visa fails.
- Evidence of financial capacity
Just because you want to keep studying in Australia doesn’t mean you can afford it!
Money is everything when it comes to student exchange and extending your visa. Your visa application assessors will be making sure you’ve got the right digits to continue your studies. Extending your visa comes with extended student visa fees.
You’ll need to provide evidence of your financial capacity to continue studying in Australia. Options come in the form of:
12 Months Fund: This option works if you’re planning on doing an extra year or more of study. You’ll need evidence of funds to cover 12 months of living and course fees.
This includes AUD$1000 for the flight home, AUD$20,290 for living costs, and 12 months worth of course fees. This last cost is specific to whatever course you’re studying so get your calculator out and multiply!
Evidence Of Annual Income: This option works for if you plan on studying a short or long course. You need evidence of an annual income of at least AUD$60,000. This income can either be your personal income, the income of your parent/s, or income of your spouse.
Genuine Access To Funds: With this option you’ll need evidence that you’ll genuinely have access to funds while you study in Australia. This includes:
- Evidence of financial support, relationship, and any history of financial support from another person or business.
- If relying on a financial deposit, explain any recent large deposits or ongoing deposits like wages.
- If you have an education loan, disbursement should be provided i.e. the terms and the full amount to be disbursed.
- If you’re relying on another type of loan, show evidence of collateral used to get the loan, terms of agreement, and capacity to cover ongoing costs.
Visa Extension Step 4: Submit Your Student Visa Application
This doesn’t take too much brainwork to figure out. If you want to get your Student Visa extension approved you’re going to have to actually submit it.
You can apply online with… you guessed it: the Department of Home Affairs. So once your student visa application is looking beautiful and ready for the (official) human eye, submit the application on your ImmiAccount.
Once you’ve lodged your visa application, the Home Office will send you a letter of acknowledgment, along with a copy of a Bridging Visa (BVA).
That’s a lot of information to process. So in case you’re suffering from gold fish brain, the bridging visa is what keeps you legally in Australia while your application for visa renewal is being processed.
Make sure you check your nominated email regularly for any correspondence from the Department of Home Affairs like visa status updates, love letters and whatnot.
Takeaway Thoughts: Getting Your Student Visa Approved
Once your student visa application has been lodged, sit tight, cross your fingers, check your emails, and wait to get your visa renewal approved. Hopefully student visa Round 2 is coming your way soon!
And if for some strange reason your student visa application has been denied… don’t freak out. It happens.
If you’re in Australia, there are ways to satisfy officer additional requirements or take a case to argue with the Department of Immigration.
Often the case officer just isn’t satisfied with the information provided in your application. They usually send an email with an IMMI s56 Request for More Information. Just respond within the prescribed time with the required extra info and/or documents.
If your visa has just been flat out refused, you still have avenues to appeal a decision or have it reversed. Let out your inner American, get a lawyer or contact immigration professionals for advice, and fight for your student visa rights! As the Beastie Boys (almost) said, you’ve gotta fight for your right to study.
And if you’ve got any more visa questions, or need some award-winning student accommodation, we’re always happy to help!