Practical improvements to Australia’s visa framework which take effect from 1 July 2016.
The simplified student visa framework (SSVF) includes a reduction in the number of student visa subclasses from eight to two (one student visa and a student guardian visa) and the introduction of a simplified single immigration risk framework for all international students.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s First Assistant Secretary, Immigration and Citizenship Policy Division, David Wilden, said student visa settings are an important part of Australia’s international education strategy. “The value of our international education sector - Australia’s third-largest export industry and our largest services export - was estimated to exceed $19 billion in 2014–15,” he said.
The SSVF will mean a broader, simpler and fairer framework for genuine international students and Australian education providers. A visa framework that is simpler to navigate and that provides a more targeted approach to immigration integrity will reduce red tape and improve productivity and international competitiveness. Under the SSVF, students will no longer be subject to the complexity of the current process. Instead students will apply online for a single student visa subclass and be assessed under a single immigration risk framework.
Online application is in line with the Department’s policy to increase digital services and helps simplify the application process. Australian Government released the Future directions for streamlined visa processing report and announced the introduction of a simplified student visa framework (SSVF) to support Australia’s education services sector.
Key changes under the SSVF are:
A reduction in the number of student visa subclasses from eight to two; and The introduction of a simplified single immigration risk framework for all international students. Subject to the regulatory change process,
it is expected that the SSVF will be implemented by mid-2016.
Under the SSVF, it is intended that all Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) registered education providers will be allocated an immigration risk rating, based on the immigration risk outcomes of their international students over the previous 12 month period. The same approach will also be used to allocate an immigration risk rating to each country.
The combined immigration risk outcomes of the student’s education provider and country of citizenship would be used to guide the level of financial capacity and English language proficiency related documentation that the student would need to provide with their student visa application.
Through this model, all education providers across all education sectors will have access to the benefits associated with ‘streamlined evidentiary requirements’ for at least some countries. Where streamlined evidentiary requirements apply, the student visa applicant will generally be able to satisfy the Department of their financial capacity and English language proficiency by declaration. This is similar to existing streamlined visa processing and Assessment Level (AL) 1 arrangements.
The Department would however retain the discretion to seek additional information about the student’s financial capacity and English language proficiency where appropriate. All students, regardless of the financial capacity and English language proficiency documentation that may be required, will continue to have to meet all other core visa criteria, such as the Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement and health and character criteria.
The following students would have streamlined evidentiary requirements under the SSVF:
All students enrolled at education providers with the lowest immigration risk ratings (similar to the current AL1) All students from countries with the lowest immigration risk ratings (similar to the current AL1) Students enrolled at education providers with medium immigration risk ratings (similar to the current AL2), provided that the student’s country of citizenship has a low or medium immigration risk rating (equivalent to the current AL1 or AL2).
Immigration risk ratings are intended to be updated every six months based on immigration risk outcomes from the previous 12-month period. The current streamlined visa processing policy guidelines are due to expire at the end of June 2016. It is intended that the streamlined visa processing arrangements will continue to operate as usual until this time.