The Department of Home Affairs has told SBS Punjabi that the visa application fee waiver will be available on lodgement of new international student visa applications from midnight (AEST) 5 August 2020.
The Australian government had last month announced a raft of changes to visa arrangements to ensure Australia continues to remain a priority study destination in a post-pandemic world.
As part of those five measures, Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge had said 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.
- Student visa application fee waiver will be available from midnight (AEST) Wednesday 5 August 2020
- Post-study work right visa changes will apply to both current, as well as new students
- Post-study work right visa changes are now available
In response to SBS Punjabi’s query, a Department spokesperson said the fee waiver will be available to the affected students who held a visa on or after 1 February 2020 from Wednesday.
“A visa application fee waiver will be available to students who held a student visa on or after 1 February 2020 and who were unable to complete their course within their original visa validity due to the impacts of COVID-19,” said the spokesperson.
This visa application fee waiver will be available on lodgement of further student visa applications from midnight (AEST) Wednesday 5 August 2020 - Department of Home Affairs
'Visa fee waiver applicable to new applications only'
The Department has further clarified on its website that refunds will not be available for students who have already applied for a visa.
“Only new applications will be eligible to have the application fee waived,” states the website.
Melbourne-based migration agent Ranbir Singh said the fee waiver will also be available to family members of eligible students whose studies were affected by the pandemic.
“Family member (combined applicants) of current or recent students whose studies were affected by COVID-19 will also be able to avail the fee waiver as per Legislative Instrument (LIN 20/158),” he said.
He added that students must attach a completed Form 1545 COVID-19 Impacted Student (PDF - 228 KB) from their education provider with a valid visa application.
"This is a mandatory requirement for applicants to be eligible to have their application for fee waiver considered," added Mr Singh.
Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) visa eligibility: Changes will apply to current and new students
In another major change, Minister Tudge also announced the relaxing of eligibility requirements for the post-study work (Temporary Graduate) visa.
According to the new measure, the online study undertaken by current and new student visa holders, as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions, will be counted towards the Australian study requirement.
The Department of Home Affairs spokesperson said: “This measure is immediate.”
“Graduates affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions will be able to apply for and be granted a Temporary Graduate visa outside Australia (where they have met all the requirements),” said the spokesperson.
International Education Association of Australia chief executive Phil Honeywood said these changes are significant and show Australia’s commitment towards the growth and recovery of the international education sector that has suffered major setbacks due to the pandemic.
“I think it clearly shows that the Australian government is wanting to reinvigorate international education that up until now we had concerns that maybe the government was putting a pause button on international student enrolments.
“But clearly, they decided they are going to be much more proactive and constructive in promoting international education for Australia,” he said.
Mr Honeywood, however, added that clarity is needed if these changes will also be applicable for these two other groups of students.
“Further clarification is needed for two other groups- the ones who have enrolled online offshore and have not applied yet for student visas and those who have applied for student visas but still waiting for the visa to be processed and in the meantime have enrolled offshore online,” he added.
The Department spokesperson has clarified that “legislative changes are required for certain graduates to apply for a Temporary Graduate visa outside Australia,” and information will be provided on the website when available.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus