The Australian government has announced a set of new visa changes to support international students who are interested in studying in its educational institutions. This means international students who need a visa to study in Australia, will be able to apply for one before the borders open, and this way, experience no disruptions to their study plans.
Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge, announced that the five visa changes are crucial when it comes to ensuring that international student plans are not affected by the pandemic, and that Australia “remains competitive with other countries.”
The five changes to visas include:
- The govt will proceed to grant student visas in locations outside of Australia so that when borders re-open, students will be able to make travel arrangements.
- Students will be able to lodge a further student visa application (at no cost) if they are unable to finish their studies in time as a result of COVID-19.
- International students with visas, who are currently studying online outside of Australia as a result of COVID-19, wil be able to use the study count towards the post-study work visa requirements in Australia.
- Graduates who held student visas will have the opportunity to apply for a post-study work visa outside of Australia if they cannot return due to COVID-19.
- Applicants will be given additional time to provide their English language results if COVID-19 has made it impossible to do so in time.
“In making these changes, we have been guided by the principles that the health of Australians is key, but that international students should not be further disadvantaged by COVID-19,” said Mr Tudge. “We are a welcoming nation with a world-class education system and some of the lowest rates of COVID-19 in the world. Students want to study here and we want to welcome them back in a safe and measured way when it is safe to do so,” he added.
Australia acknowledges the importance of international students to its economy, with a contribution of $40 billion annually and the support of 250,000 jobs. The aforementioned changes, according to Mr Tudge, will ensure the support of the education sector, but also many other communities and businesses who cater to international student needs, such as accommodation services, tourism, hospitality, and retail.
Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, admitted that the changes will give international students the confidence they need with regards to visa arrangements, so they can proceed to “make plans to study in Australia when it is safe to do so.” “Our remarkable efforts in controlling the spread of the virus mean we can begin to welcome back international students in a COVID safe way once state borders re-open and face-to-face learning resumes,” he said.
As one of the most popular study destinations, Australia has worked hard to meet the needs of its international students, especially ever since the pandemic outbreak. This includes relaxing work restrictions for international students working in health sectors and finding flexible ways to help intl students meet their visa requirements when they could not attend classes in person due to travel restrictions and COVID-19.