Risk level changes to Student visas

Australia’s world-class international education sector contributed $34 billion to the local economy last year, an increase of 15.3 per cent. Australia hosted a record 690,000 international students in 2018 who paid tuition fees and spent money on living costs.

The department of Home Affairs has made changes to the risk levels (assessment levels) for some countries. These changes are based on a balance of offshore refusals (both fraud-related and non-fraud related) and onshore immigration ‘trailing risks’: rate of visa cancellations, overstayers and subsequent protection visa applications.

India, Pakistan and Nepal rated ‘high risk’ for Australian Student visa

India, Nepal and Pakistan are among the higher risk countries and therefore Students from these countries would need to demonstrate more documentary evidence such as:

Evidence of financial ​capacity;

Which you must provide either:

  • sufficient funds to cover your travel costs and 12 months of living and tuition fees for you and your accompanying family members and school costs for any school aged dependants, or
  • evidence that your spouse or parents are willing to support you and they have an annual income of at least AUD 60,000 for single students or at least AUD 70,000 for students that are accompanied by family members
  • an Acceptance Advice of Secondary Exchange Students form for secondary exchange students only
  • a letter of support from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or Department of Defence.
Sum of DATA YTD Enrolments
Sector 2016 2017 2018 2019
Higher Education 288,237 333,252 378,686 415,703
VET 147,990 171,211 193,747 225,188
Schools 21,928 24,351 25,657 24,754
ELICOS 99,501 106,077 105,838 106,811
Non-award 38,006 44,537 43,873 39,648
Grand Total 595,662 679,428 747,801 812,104

Student visa applicants from India, Nepal and Pakistan must also provide evidence of their English language skills at the time of visa application

English language ability:
  • This must be evidence that you have either obtained a satisfactory test score in an English language test that has been approved by DHA or evidence of certain eligible studies in English or if you fall into an exemption category.

you must provide evidence that you:

  • have obtained a certain test score in an English language test that the Department has approved (below table)
  • have completed certain eligible studies in English, or
  • fall into an exemption category

English language tests

The table below shows the English language test providers and the minimum scores you must achieve to meet the Student visa English language requirement. You must have taken the English language test in the 2 years before you apply for a student visa.

English language test providers Minimum score Minimum score and 10 weeks English (ELICOS) Minimum score and at least 20 weeks ELICOS
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) 5.5 5 4.5
TOEFL internet-based test 46 35 32
Cambridge English: Advanced (Certificate in Advanced English) 162 154 147
Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) 42 36 30
Occupational English Test B for each test component N/A N/A

You must have enough money to pay for your stay in Australia. To see how much money you need to have for cost of living, your course and travel expenses. Use our Student Visa Financial Calculator to see how much you need to demonstrate.

The department of Immigration uses a combined evidence level of the student’s education provider and country of citizenship to determine whether the student needs to provide evidence of financial and English language capacity with their student visa application.

Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Hungary, Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Africa are now considered ‘low risk’ for Australian Student visa

On the positive side students from Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Hungary, Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Africa are now cosidered low risk and therefore do not need to demonstrate Financial ability and English unless the department specifically requests them.

Higher education enrolments, overseas (os) students, state and territory, top ten nationalities, 2018
Nationality Total % of all
China 152,591 38.3
India 71,857 18.0
Nepal 28,233 7.1
Vietnam 15,718 3.9
Malaysia 13,988 3.5
Pakistan 11,397 2.9
Indonesia 9,875 2.5
Sri Lanka 9,209 2.3
Hong Kong 8,931 2.2
Singapore 7,328 1.8
Other 69,436 17.4
All OS 398,563 100.0

Source: DoE, Basic pivot table 2015–2019, December 2018.

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