Understanding the Visa Process for Student Migrants to Australia

The allure of studying abroad is irresistible, and Australia, with its world-class education system and vibrant culture, is a preferred destination for many international students. For students in Hong Kong and worldwide, considering this adventurous leap – one essential, albeit confusing, part of the journey is navigating the visa process.

In this article, we will unravel the complexities of obtaining an Australian Student Visa (such as subclass 500), ensuring a smoother transition for your aspiring scholars.

1. Australian Student Visas – An Overview

Australia offers a variety of student visas to cater to different educational needs. Here are the main types:

  1. Student Visa (Subclass 500): This is the most common type of student visa. It allows you to study a full-time course that’s registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).
  2. Student Guardian Visa (Subclass 590): This visa is for individuals who need to come to Australia to provide care and support for a student visa holder who is under 18 years of age.

Remember, the type of visa you need depends on the type of study you plan to undertake, and each visa type has its own eligibility requirements. Always ensure that the course you plan to study is registered with CRICOS.

2. The Australian Student Visa (subclass 500)

The Australian Student Visa (subclass 500) empowers international students to study full-time in an Australian educational institution. This visa allows students to stay in Australia in line with their enrolment. Additionally, it also permits students to work up to 40 hours per fortnight during term time, providing an opportunity to earn while learning and imbibe the local culture and work ethics.

3. Preparing for the Visa Application – Eligibility

The visa application journey begins with choosing a course and an educational institution in Australia. As a prospective student, you must be enrolled in a course of study that is registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).

Once you accept your offer and pay your deposit, you’ll receive an Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) from your education provider. This document is essential to start your student visa application process.

To be eligible for visas such as the Australian Student Visa (subclass 500), you must meet several key requirements:

  • Age: There is no specific age limit for the student visa.
  • Enrolment: You must have an offer of a place in a course registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).
  • Genuine Student (GS) Requirement: You must demonstrate that you are genuinely coming to Australia to study and not for any other reason. You will have to answer a series of questions as to why you chose your course and that university, indicate you have sufficient funds to remain in Australia and that you do intend to return to your home country at the end of your studies.  
  • Financial Requirements: You need to provide evidence of sufficient funds to cover your tuition, travel, and living costs.
  • English Proficiency: Depending on your course and institution, you may need to provide evidence of English language proficiency, usually through tests like IELTS  or PTE.
  • Health and Character Requirements: You must meet certain health standards and be of good character. This may involve undergoing medical examinations.
  • Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC): You are required to have OSHC unless you are from Norway, Belgium or Sweden.This can be purchased from the provider directly or you can purchase BUPA, Allianz, AHM, Medibank Private OSHC policies from SEA!

4. Document Checklist

To apply for most of the student visas, you will need to provide several documents, such as:

  • A valid passport
  • The Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) code
  • Evidence of sufficient funds
  • Evidence of English language proficiency (IELTS, PTE scores etc)
  • Proof of Health insurance details 

5. Application Process

Once you have all the documents ready, you can apply online for the visa through the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs website. After submitting the application, you might be asked for additional information before the visa is granted, such as biometrics and a health examination.

6. Visa Processing Time

The processing time varies depending on the sector of your course. Most visa applications for higher education take at least 2 months to process. However, it’s advised to check the official website for the most recent processing times as it is subject to change.

In our experience, visa processing can also take 6-12 months depending on the sector – this is why we recommend parents to act early so they don’t miss any key deadlines.

7. After Your Visa is Granted

Getting your visa is an exciting milestone. However, make sure to maintain your enrolment and attend all classes as the school or course provider reports to the Department of Home Affairs regarding students’ compliance with the visa conditions.

8. Extending Your Student Visa

If your visa is about to expire, but you haven’t finished your course, you can apply for a new Student Visa in Australia with a new CoE from your course provider. 


Understanding the visa process can seem daunting, but with adequate preparation and understanding, it can be navigated smoothly. Remember, embarking on an international study journey is a brave step towards personal and academic growth. So, take one step at a time, and before you know it, you will be soaking up the Australian sun and immersing yourself in a new academic adventure!

Good luck, and remember: every big journey begins with a single step, and understanding the Australian student visa process is that crucial first step in your Australian education journey.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general guidance only. Australian visa legislation changes frequently and is subject to change at short notice, and each individual’s circumstances may require a different approach. Please consult with an Australian Registered Migration Agent (RMA) professional for advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

If you’re looking for the right school for your child around Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand or Canada – our migration and educational consultant Jessica Yuen has over 9 years of experience in helping families find the right educational journeys for their children. You can shoot us a message here.

We provide families with an all-in-one solution for migration and admissions consultancy.

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