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FIVE WELCOMED CHANGES TO ASSIST STUDENTS DURING COVID19

Australia has always been an international student hub and COVID19 had a major effect how students maintain their stay in Australia.

According to the Department of Education and Training Student visa holders contribute $40 billion to the Australian economy and support around 250,000 jobs.  It is therefore paramount that we keep a pathway for students open where it is safe to do so.

As announced last week, international students will be able to extend their visa-free of cost, those who hold a student visa but are offshore will be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa (485) are some of the changes announced to student visa arrangements announced by the government.

Alan Tudge announced the following changes to the student visa program:

  1. The Government will recommence granting student visas in all locations lodged outside Australia. This means when borders re-open, students will already have visas and be able to make arrangements to travel. It is however possible for students to seek exemption to travel to Australia on compassionate grounds.
  2. International students will be able to lodge a further student visa application free of charge if they are unable to complete their studies within their original visa validity due to COVID-19.  This includes situations where students had to defer a course of study or stop studying directly as a result of the outbreak.
  3. Current student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to COVID-19 will be able to use that study to count towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa, 485.  This was a worrisome issue for many students given the strict study requirements surrounding the 485 visa program which would in turn make many students not eligible to transition to subclass 485 visa.
  4. Graduates who held a student visa will be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa outside Australia if they are unable to return due to COVID-19.  Again another welcome relief as core requirement of subclass 485 visa requires students to be in Australia for lodgement and grant of the 485 visa.
  5. Additional time will be given for applicants to provide English language results where COVID-19 has disrupted access to these services.

The government said these five visa changes will ensure international students are not worse off due to the coronavirus pandemic and that Australia remains competitive with other countries. 

“These measures back the international education sector – our fourth-largest export sector – and will assist its recovery,” Mr Tudge said.

“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.

“Doing so will not only support the education sector, it will also have flow-on effects for many local communities and businesses, including accommodation services, tourism, hospitality and retail.”

Legal Training Australia will be hosting a special webinar this Monday at 6.30pm covering the changes.  To book visit: https://legaltrainingaustralia.com/webinar-cpd/

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