The Top 5 Australian Student Visas

If you’re an international student planning on studying a course (four or more months) in Australia, you’ll need a student visa ASAP!

But applying is not that simple! When it comes to student visas there are a few different options you can apply for:

1. Student Visa (subclass 500)
2. Student Guardian Visa (subclass 590)
3. Training Visa (subclass 407)
4. Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485)
5. Visiting and Studying (subclass 600, 601, 651)

So how do you decide which student visa is right for you?

Time to suss out the best visa option suited to your study visions and ambitions in Australia.

1. Student Visa (subclass 500)

Your stock standard Student Visa
What is this visa?

Sure, the Department of Home Affairs has provided plenty of options. But in all likeliness, the student visa you’ll be applying for is the subclass 500.

This visa allows you to stay in Australia to study full-time in a recognised education institution. Recognised as in the Government said ‘yes, okay, absolutely, that’s a mighty fine place to study’.

Now the subclass 500 visa comes with an unnegotiable time limit of 5 years. After this you’ll need to reevaluate your studies, reapply, liaise with the Government, and all that jazz.

For those of you wondering what types of study this visa entails… the student visa (subclass 500) covers the following:

  • Independent ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students)
  • Schools (Primary and Secondary)
  • Secondary School Exchange Programs
  • Vocational Education and Training (VET)
  • Higher Education
  • Postgraduate Research
  • Non-Award Courses
  • International Students Sponsored by The Department of Foreign Affairs or Defence

Visa Eligibility:

Of course, before you get started on applying, you’ll want to make sure you’re actually eligible for this type of student visa. When it comes to eligibility for the subclass 500 you must be:

a) At least 6 years of age, and yes, this rule also applies to “gifted children”.
b) Have been accepted into an educational institution, the legal kind.
c) Have health insurance, just go and buy it… but don’t let them rip you off.

Visa Application Process:

Next comes the part of applying for your student visa. The subclass 500 has a decent sized student visa application process. You’re going to need to:

  • Be Enrolled to study a government approved course
  • Prove you’re a Genuine Temporary Entrant
  • Have adequate Health Insurance
  • Pass the English Language Requirements, and,
  • Have the Financial Capacity to pay for your student exchange.

Pretty standard stuff really.

With your student visa application, you’ll need to attach plenty of required documents. You have to collect, tick off and attach these documents in a thoroughly obsessive-compulsive manner. In basics, making sure that you attach all required documents is how you can safeguard your visa application from rejection.

Student Visa Costs:

Now, like all things in life, your student visa (subclass 500) will come at a cost. This type of student visa is very… kindly… accompanied by a AUD$575 application fee.

You may be thinking, “that’s an easy enough cost to manage”. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Be warned and be prepared: The visa application is a long road ahead and will spit out plenty of menacing creatures and additional student visa costs including, but not limited to: Health Examinations, Health Insurance, English Language Test fees, Police Certificates, and Financial Capacity Assessment.

2. Student Guardian Visa (subclass 590)

B.Y.O guardian, the non-stone variety.

What is this visa?

The Student Guardian Visa (subclass 590) allows certain people (“guardians” they call them) to reside with a student in Australia. This is the case for under 18 students who have opted for protection from a guardian angel rather than a certified under 18 student accommodation provider.

Considering you’ll be the guardian of a student on the subclass 500, the longevity of this visa is same same: up to five years. Your visa mimics their visa.

Whether the student chooses to continue studies and reapply or cease and desist back to their home country, the guardian’s visa follows. If they stay you stay, if they go you go, if they jump you say, “how high?”, and if they turn 18 you’re no longer relevant. Back home you go, dear sweet guardian.

Other Conditions:

Now while you’re in Australia you’ll need a little something to do to pass the time.

The Student Guardian Visa (subclass 590) does allow guardians to work. However, there are some strict limitations on how much.

While the subclass 590 visa generally doesn’t allow you to work there is the exception of clocking up 20 hours a fortnight. Anything beyond this limit and you (and the student in your care) will be asked (forcefully) to leave the country.

The Student Guardian visa also allows you some study time. But, again, this is limited choice only.

The subclass 590 allows you polish up your English while you’re in Australia. So, you can study an ELICOS course for less than 20 hours per week.

The 590 visa also lets you spend a bit of time polishing up your general knowledge. You can study another course up to three months. However, three months is the max limit for study. Otherwise you’d have to apply for a student visa too.

Visa Eligibility:

Now in terms of eligibility for the subclass 590 visa, you must:

a) Be the student’s parent, legal guardian or relative
b) Have enough money to support yourself and the student during your stay
c) Be able to provide accommodation and other support
d) Be at least 21 years of age. Yes, that’s right folks, your younger siblings and friends can’t be your caretaker!

Visa Application Process:

To make life easier, you can combine your Student Guardian Visa application with the Student Visa application. This just simplifies the submission process.

The simple way is the best way.

Like the Student Visa, you’ll have to go through plenty of your own visa requirements like proof of Guardianship, Genuine Temporary Entrant requirements, Health Examinations, Health Insurance, Police Certificates, and proof of Financial Capacity for yourself and the student you will be caring for.

And like the subclass 500, the subclass 590 visa requirements come with bundles of required documents to attach. It’s worth whipping out a student visa checklist for you and the student for your ‘combo deal’ application. Make sure you both tick off all the requirement boxes!

Student Visa Costs:

The Student Guardian Visa costs AUD$575 and comes with plenty of (not-so) hidden costs in the application process. Fees include the standard stuff like health examinations, health insurance, police certificates, and proof of Financial Capacity.

For a sneak peak at financial capacity, you’re looking at a rather excessive amount of available funds for the student’s course fees, both your living fees (AUD$20,290 EACH!) and tickets for flights to and from the land of Oz. Or you can demonstrate you have an annual income in excess of AUD$70,000! Exciting times to be had all round.

3. Training Visa (subclass 407)

Because some of us learn by doing, Training Visa

What is this visa?

Now this isn’t quite a student visa. But you’re learning in any case. The Training Visa (subclass 407) is for people who want to come to Australia temporarily for occupational training and/or professional development.

Basically, the subclass 407 allows you to build your skills in your current occupation, area of tertiary study, or field of expertise. The intention of this visa is that you are learning. In this case the Training Visa is NOT appropriate for anyone with the sole intention to work. Don’t get your visas mixed up.

The subclass 407 visa allows you to take part in a structured workplace-based training course required for registration OR to enhance skills in an eligible occupation. It also allows you to take part in a professional development training program in Australia.

Your work-place based occupational training (i.e. not professional development) must be for at least 30hours per week, and no more than 30% of this can be classroom based.

Length of stay on the training visa is up to two years only, because let’s be honest, it’s not an intensive university course. You’re just building knowledge in a workplace environment. Kind of like an internship…

Visa Eligibility:

In terms of eligibility for the subclass 407 visa, you must:

a) Be nominated (unless your sponsor is a Commonwealth Government Agency)
b) Be invited (if your sponsor is a Commonwealth Government Agency)
c) Be at least 18 years of age (with some exceptions!)

Visa Application Process:

The training visa comes with its own fabulous array of visa application requirements:

  • Functional English Language Skills:

This means being a holder of a valid passport issued by the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand or Ireland. OR you’ve successfully completed five years in a secondary institution or two years of higher education in an English-speaking institution.

If neither of these options are on your personal repertoire, you’d better pass an English Language Test. Options include passing the IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, Cambridge English, or an assessment of functional English from a service provider.

  • Financial Support:

You’ll need to provide evidence that you can financially support yourself and any accompanying family members for the duration of your stay in Australia. This needs to be hard evidence, not a flimsy I.O.U scribbled on a crinkled piece of paper.

  • Health Examinations & Insurance:

You will have to meet certain health requirements to enter the country. This means passing the health examinations with flying colours. The examinations you need to take vary depending on your personal circumstances and home country.

With insurance, you are totally responsible for your health costs while you’re in Australia. You won’t be covered by Australia’s national health scheme. So, you’ve got to organise health insurance for you and any accompanying family members. And coverage must start from the moment you set foot in Australia.

  • Character:

You must meet character requirements, so make sure you get a police clearance from every country you have ever lived in for 12months+ during the past 10 years (or since you turned 16). But don’t worry, we won’t hold skipping class at 14 against you.

Student Visa Costs:

The Training Visa (subclass 407) application fee will cost you AUD$285. And as standard procedure, you can expect a bunch of other application costs.

Additional costs include: Health Assessments, Health Insurance, Police Certificates, and any other certificates or tests that come with the application requirements.

  • Payment of Salary or Wages:

You must be paid salary or wages in line with Australian laws and practices. If your position is volunteer (how kind of you), then you and your sponsor must complete the Acknowledgment of unpaid placement forms. These should be lodged before nomination.

4. Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485)

Because you can’t let go of Australia

What is this visa?

The Temporary Graduate Visa is for international students have recently graduated from an Australian education institution. As in, you held a student visa in the last 6 months, not last 6 years.

On the subclass 485 you can live study and/or work in Australia temporarily after finishing your studies. This visa doesn’t restrict the type of work or the hours you work. So, you’re as free as it gets baby! (Fine Print: for a limited time only)

The 485 visa comes in two streams:

1. Graduate Work Stream (18months stay)
2. Post-Study Work Stream (Two-to four years stay)

And your qualification for the 485 visa must either:

  • Relate to an occupation on the skilled occupation list (Graduate Work Stream)
  • Be a higher education degree (Post-Study Work Stream)

Visa Eligibility:

In order to be eligible for the Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485) you must:

a) Be younger than 50 years
b) Already hold an eligible student visa
c) Have included evidence that you met the English Language requirements
d) Meet the Australian study requirement in the last 6 months
e) Meet Health and Character requirements
f) Have insurance in Australia

Visa Application Process:

In your 485 visa application you need to go over the run of the mill student visa requirements. Similar stuff to your past Student Visa (subclass 500) application.

You’ll need to include supporting documentation that you have:

  • English Language ability
  • Meet Health requirements and have Health cover in Australia
  • Meet character requirements
  • Have evidence you have paid all outstanding debts to the Australian Government
  • Last (and most obviously), have completed the Australian study requirements. This is a given seeing as you’re applying for Temporary Graduate Visa.

Student Visa Costs:

There probably won’t be too many hidden costs in this visa application seeing as you’ll have had to pay for all these documents when you applied for the Student Visa (subclass 500).

A couple of things you will have to pay for is outstanding debts to the government and ongoing health cover.

Now settle down. Don’t start jumping up and down with happiness just yet. The 485 visa does come at a pretty hefty fee.

You’re looking at a sum of AUD$1,535. But if you want to stay in Australia you’ll do anything right? And now that your working limit has lifted you can clock up plenty of hours to refill that leaking bank account of yours.

5. Visiting and Studying (subclass 600, 601, 651)

Why don’t we have both? Visiting and studying in Australia

What is this visa?

If you want to come to Australia for a short period of time and short-term study, you can look into applying for a subclass 600, 601 or 651.

  • Visitor Visa (subclass 600)
  • Electronic Travel Authority Visa (subclass 601)
  • eVisitor subclass 651

On these visas you can study a maximum of 4 months in Australia, with a principal purpose to holiday in Australia. But learning is still on the cards with your travels.

Visa Eligibility:

  • You must be 18 to 30 years old and hold an eligible passport.

Visa Requirements:

For the subclass 600 you must:

  • Demonstrate that your principal purpose is to holiday in Australia
  • Provide evidence that you’re travelling to Australia as a Genuine Temporary Entrant
  • Have passed Health Examinations and have organised Health Insurance
  • Declare any criminal convictions and paid any outstanding debts to the Australian Government
  • Provide evidence of sufficient funds for airfares and personal support

For the subclass 601 you must:

  • Be a passport holder from an eligible country

For the subclass 651 visa you must:

  • Be an eVistor passport holder from an eligible country
  • Meet Health Requirements & have health insurance
  • Declare any criminal convictions and have no outstanding debts to the Australian Government
  • Show genuine intention to visit Australia only for a temporary period (on the basis of tourism of business activities)
  • Be outside Australia when you apply
  • Not have tuberculosis

Visa Costs:
Visitor Visa’s (subclass 600) are priced from AUD$140 to AUD$1,020 depending on your circumstances.
Electronic Travel Authority Visa (subclass 601) will cost you a AUD$20 service fee for your online application.

eVisitor subclass 651 will not be charged any fee by the Department.

With all of these visas you will be subject to differing fees depending on the visa requirements you must tick off.

Takeaway Thai… sorry, Takeaway Thoughts (feeling hungry)

These five student visa options are a great way to figure out which kind of visa gels with your study plans.

There’s plenty of leeway for your exchange studies. You can go the standard Student Visa (subclass 500), bring a guardian along for the ride with a Student Guardian Visa (subclass 590), get more hands-on learning with a Training Visa (subclass 407), hang around in Australia a little longer with a Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485), or do a quick study stint while travelling (subclass 600, 601, 651).

The world is your oyster when it comes to student visas and studying in Australia. Assuming you tick off the visa requirements…