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What happens to my Australian student visa and study in the COVID-19 pandemic

FAQs: What Happens to My Australian Student Visa and Study in the COVID-19 Pandemic

As an education agency that has been in the industry for ten years, the current global pandemic of COVID-19 (or Coronavirus) is heartbreaking. There are now major restrictions on who can travel to Australia and one of the biggest groups of people affected are international students that are part of the current semester intake, especially those who are coming from China, South Korea, Iran and Italy. 

And while we understand that the policy issued to close the Australian border is part of the Government effort to protect their country and people from the spread of COVID-19, it’s also heartbreaking for many of our clients whose study dreams are left up in the air. On top of that, international students who study in Australia now face huge uncertainty about their study because the pandemic has meant they’re unable to rely on financial support from their family at home or their part-time jobs in Australia. 

Despite the challenging and changeable situation that we face in the months ahead, Education ONE is here, dedicating our time to support you and help to plan your future study in Australia, as well as ensuring that you can stay legally in Australia. 

In the last few weeks, we have received many questions from international students, both in Australia and in their home country, about their Australian study and visa status. We would like to share our answers to the most frequently asked questions about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on student visas and studying in Australia. 

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1. My Australian student visa has been granted offshore but I am unable to travel to Australia due to the travel restrictions. What should I do? 

If your study doesn’t start anytime soon, you could wait until the travel restrictions are lifted. But if your study is due to start in the near future, you should contact your education provider to ask for a deferral/suspension to the next intake. 

2. My start date of study has been deferred due to the coronavirus lockdown, do I need to apply for a new student visa? 

No, you can still use your current visa as long as it is still valid. A student visa will normally end two months after your study completion date. If your new COE ends before your current visa expires, you do not need to apply for a new visa. If your new COE ends after your current visa expires, you need to apply for a new student visa to be able to continue your study. 

3. I have been asked to take a medical examination by the Department of Home Affairs, but the visa medical services in some appointed hospitals have been reduced. Will it affect my student visa assessment process? 

No, the Department of Home Affairs will give you additional time to complete the request because of these circumstances but you need to notify them about your current condition as they will assess each individual differently based on your circumstances. 

From 19 March 2020, the Bupa visa medical service and other visa medical services clinics in Australia and outside Australia may temporarily reduce some appointments to implement the social distancing rules but it will be reviewed regularly by the Department of Health. 

4. My Australian student visa is about to expire, I’m not currently in Australia and I still need to finish some units of my study in Australia. What do I need to do now? 

Firstly, you need to contact your education provider to seek advice on whether your current units’ study can be deferred or if it could be delivered through online study. If you have to be in Australia, you need to get a new Certificate of Enrollment (a COE) from your current provider. You also need to contact the student processing center at the Department of Home Affairs regarding your current circumstances so they can give you proper advice for your visa.   

5. Am I still able to submit an application to university/college for July 2020 intake? 

Yes. Most colleges/universities in Australia will still continue accepting international students’ applications for the next intake. It will also apply for your new student visa application submitted to the Department of Home Affairs.  

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6. Do universities/colleges in Australia still offer face-to-face study options for international students? 

From the 4th week of March, there are only a few universities/colleges in Australia which continue to deliver a face-to-face study for a limited number of students. In addition, some of them will close and grant a two-week holiday for their students. But most of them will still continue delivering their study by online study to minimize social contact between teacher and student. Please ask your education provider about how you can continue your study.

7. I am currently studying hospitality and need to do an internship in a couple of months. Due to the closure of some hospitality industries in Australia, how can I meet my study requirement? 

Australia is currently facing a big issue with the closure of some companies, especially those in the hospitality and tourism industries. If you currently need hospitality experience, you could ask your education provider how you can meet these requirements, including whether the unit can be suspended or you can use the hospitality facility offered by your college. 

8. I’ve lost my part-time or casual job on a student visa. How can I pay my next semester fees? 

Because this COVID-19 situation was so unexpected, many temporary visa holders in Australia are also experiencing the same issue with their jobs. What you can do now is to contact your education provider to ask their support. Some colleges/universities will allow you to take instalment plans on your tuition fee payment.  

9. Is it legal to do an online course while my student visa needs me to study on a full-time basis? 

Yes. To comply with the regulation made by the Australia Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, most universities/colleges in Australia have reduced their face-to-face study and changed it into online learning. It will not affect your visa condition. Once the COVID-19 pandemic can be overcome, all study activity will go back to normal.

With online study, students’ attendance will now be measured through their progress – when they log on and complete their school work online. Teachers will give a lesson on the scheduled day & time, and these will be recorded, ensuring that students will be able to continue their studies at any time.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

10. I’m experiencing financial difficulty during the Coronavirus pandemic and I’m unable to pay my tuition fees. I also have issues with my accommodation as I am unable to pay the rent. What should I do?

You can try contacting the student services team of your study provider. Some educational institutions in Australia can assist students in regards to welfare issues.

11. I have already submitted my student visa application and I’m currently waiting for a decision. Will this COVID-19 lockdown situation affect my student visa application outcome or the time until a decision?

No, your student visa application will still be processed normally. But if your visa is granted when a travel ban is in place, you need to wait until it is lifted before travelling to Australia. 

12. I plan to study in July 2020, and I have already submitted my student visa application and I’m currently waiting for a decision. However, my Certificate of Enrollment (COE) has been deferred. Should I upload my new COE to my student visa application?

It depends on the start date of your new COE. If there is less than a six-month gap, yes you can, as long as your student visa has not been decided yet. You can upload your new COE or any other necessary documents into your online visa application. But, if your COE is deferred for the next intake year (which is more than six months away), your desired university/college will usually suggest you to submit a new visa application for your new COE, so you will need to withdraw your current visa application. 

13. I plan to study in July 2020, and I have already got my student visa. However, my Certificate of Enrollment (COE) has been deferred due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Should I send my new COE to Immigration?

No. As a COE is issued via the Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS), it should be linked to the Department of Home Affairs so you do not need to send your new COE to Immigration. You can include your new COE later to your visa extension application if you need to extend your visa. 

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

14. I am now holding a temporary visa that will end very soon. Am I eligible for a student visa?

It depends on the conditions of your current visa, and whether you have met the requirements for a student visa or not. Contact us for a further consultation about your further study options.

15. I plan to study in Australia but should I postpone the process in the middle of this Coronavirus pandemic? 

We suggest you start the process as soon as possible because you can always make changes later. Both study and visa requirements in Australia are always changing, so to ensure you still meet the criteria, we advise you to start the process immediately. 

16. The Australian government has allowed international students to take part-time/casual jobs for more than 40 hours per fortnight in supermarkets and aged care facilities. Am I eligible to do so?

Not every supermarket and aged care facility is allowed to lift the part-time working hours condition for international students. You should check this list to see if your employer is eligible. 

We hope that this information can help you to determine your next step to maintain your study and visa status in Australia during the pandemic of COVID-19. If you need further help for your study or student visa application to Australia, you can contact our education consultant to discuss your matter. We offer a FREE consultation for those who’s study has been impacted, both directly and indirectly, by COVID-19. Please stay safe and healthy, our support and heart will always be there for you!          

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