Ending ‘visa hopping’ – 600 and 485 visas to student

Ending onshore visa hopping (1 July 2024 changes)

The Minister for Home Affairs published a media release that announces further changes to the migration system that were articulated within the Migration Strategy. These changes are to stop what is referred to in the Migration Strategy and the media release as visa hopping where temporary visa holders continue to apply for further temporary visas onshore to extend their stay in Australia with little prospect of becoming permanent residents.

As a measure to restrict visa hopping the media release outlines the following changes to commence from 1 July 2024:

The legislative instruments that will bring about these changes have not yet been released.

The Australian government released its much-anticipated Migration Strategy, which outlines a new vision for Australia’s migration system and a what to expect in 2024.

From 1 July 2024, temporary graduate, visitor and maritime crew visa holders will be unable to apply for Student visas onshore.

This includes existing visas from which it is already not possible to apply for a student visa onshore, the complete list of visa holders that will be unable to apply for student visas onshore are:

Regarding the new changes to commence on 1 July for onshore student visa applications.

Restricting onshore visa hopping to the Student visa program

As part of the Migration Strategy, released in December 2023, the Government announced a package of reforms to support integrity in the international education system and to support genuine international students. These reforms ensure that visas are granted to genuine students and that students who earn a qualification in Australia have an opportunity to contribute to Australia’s economic growth.
To support these commitments, legislative Instrument LIN16/016 will be expanded from 1 July 2024 to also prevent Temporary Graduate, Maritime Crew and Visitor visa holders from applying for a Student visa while onshore in Australia. Specifically, these are visa subclasses:

  • Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate)
  •  Subclass 600 (Visitor)
  •  Subclass 601 (Electronic Travel Authority)
  •  Subclass 602 (Medical Treatment)
  •  Subclass 651 (eVisitor)
  •  Subclass 988 (Maritime Crew)

This is in addition to the visas already on the instrument from which it is not possible to make a valid Student application, which are:

  • Subclass 403 (Temporary Work) International Relations)) – Domestic Worker (Diplomatic or Consular) stream
  •  Subclass 426 (Domestic Worker (Temporary) – Diplomatic or Consular)
  •  Subclass 771 (Transit)
  •  Subclass 995 (Diplomatic Temporary) – primary visa holders only

Offshore lodged visa applicants are not granted a Bridging visa in association with their application. They must remain outside Australia until their visa is decided, unless they hold another visa that allows them to travel to and remain in Australia for their intended purpose. Visa holders who come to Australia must ensure they comply with the conditions of the visa they hold, including any limitations on work or study.

This change is part of the package of reforms, released as part of the Australian Government’s Migration Strategy, and is a commitment to restrict onshore visa hopping that undermines system integrity and drives ‘permanent temporariness’. Temporary Graduate visa holders should depart Australia, or find skilled jobs and find other visa pathways, including those that may lead to becoming permanent residents of Australia. People seeking to study in Australia should apply for a student visa from offshore.

Student visa applicants with a genuine intention to pursue studies in Australia can apply outside Australia. Those who meet the criteria will be granted a Student visa.

We assume that once released the legislative instruments will make changes to Schedule 1 of the student visa, which will not allow for a valid application for a student visa to be made if the applicant is onshore and holding a Sc 485, Sc 600, Sc 601, Sc 602, Sc 651 and Sc 988. The legislative instruments that bring into effect these changes have not been released. Once they are released, we will provide members with an update.

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