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How to Get an Australian Student Visa

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In order to study in Australia, you will need to obtain an Australian student visa. You must be able to prove to the Department of Home Affairs that you meet the following key Australian student visa requirements:

  • Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement
  • Financial requirements
  • English proficiency requirements
  • Health and character requirements

You’ll also need to complete an Australian student visa application form, pay the visa application fee, and perhaps attend an interview. Sound like a lot to remember? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is a Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE)?

Introduced in November 2011, the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement says that the visa applicant must be able to demonstrate a genuine intention to stay in Australia temporarily for the purpose of study, or to accompany a student as a dependent (i.e. spouse or child) or as a guardian. The decision-makers at the Department of Home Affairs will consider the following factors:

  • Circumstances in your home country
  • Potential circumstances for you in Australia
  • Value of your chosen course to your future
  • Your immigration history

In order to determine whether you meet the GTE requirement, you may be asked to attend an interview at your nearest Australian embassy or consulate. Some applicants will only need to fill in a visa application form.

Completing an Australian student visa application form

All international students apply for the same visa: the Student Visa (Subclass 500), which you must apply for online.

Before applying for a visa, you’ll need to obtain a Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) or a Letter of Offer confirming you have been accepted into a course registered under the Commonwealth Register of Institutions of Courses (CRICOS). The COE will be in the form of an online code that you will need to enter into the appropriate section in the online visa application. You may also need to pay a deposit towards your tuition fees.

You will be able to change course afterwards to study in Australia at the same or a higher study level, but you’ll need to apply for a new visa if you’re changing course to a lower level on the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) or a non-AQF level course (unless changing from a PhD to a master’s). You may also package your studies by studying two or more courses on your Student Visa (Subclass 500), where there is clear progression from one course to another.

m a PhD to a master’s). You may also package your studies by studying two or more courses on your Student Visa (Subclass 500), where there is clear progression from one course to another.

Australian student visa requirements

When completing your online visa application form, you’ll need to provide evidence of the following according to the Australian student visa requirements:

  • Financial requirements: Evidence of sufficient funds to cover tuition, travel and living costs. From February 2018, the amount you need to prove you have for living costs (separate from tuition and travel) is set at AU$20,290 (~US$13,750) for a year. If you have dependents (such as a spouse and children), you will also need to show evidence of being able to cover living costs for them, including school fees. Alternatively, you can show evidence that your spouse or parents are willing to support you and that they earn at least AU$60,000 (~US$40,660) a year.
  • English proficiency requirement: If you’re not from an English-speaking country (and haven’t completed at least five years’ study in an English-speaking country) you’ll need to prove you can speak English to the required level. Eligible tests include the IELTS, TOEFL iBT, Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic, and Cambridge Advanced English (CAE). The score you will need will depend on whether you are starting a full degree, doing a foundation course, or enrolling on a preliminary English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS).
  • Health requirements: Some students may be asked to take a medical and/or a radiological check-up to show they’re in good health (this applies, for example, to those who intend to train as a doctor, dentist or nurse). If told to do so, you must attend an appointment with a doctor who has been approved by the Australian immigration department.

Except those from Belgium or Norway, all students are obliged to purchase Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). You may purchase this cover through your university, or directly from one of the five approved providers: Australian Health Management, BUPA Australia, Medibank Private, Allianz Global Assistance and nib OSHC. The cost of this health insurance cover will vary depending on the provider and how long you purchase cover for.

Students from Sweden who have purchased health insurance through Kammarkollegiet will not need to purchase OSHC. Belgian and Norwegian students are also not required to purchase OSHC as part of their visa requirements.

  • Character requirements: Australian student visa requirements stipulate you must be of good character to enter Australia. This includes a criminal record check, to make sure you don’t have a substantial criminal record. You may also need to acquire a penal clearance certificate (or police certificate) or get a police statement, and may be asked to complete a Character Statutory Declaration Form.

Australian student visa documents

The Department of Home Affairs website has a document checklist feature that will provide you with a list of documents required for your specific circumstances. Typically, students must submit the following:

  • Completed Australian student visa application form (157A)
  • Paid visa application fee – currently AU$620 (~US$420) in most cases
  • Copy of passport biodata page (some students may be asked to physically provide their passport)
  • Certificate of Enrolment or Letter of Offer
  • Evidence of sufficient funds
  • Evidence of health insurance cover
  • English proficiency test results
  • Criminal record check results
  • Four recent passport-sized photographs

After you have assembled and scanned your supporting documents, you’ll need to create an account and apply with the online ImmiAccount application system.

Most visa applications take four weeks to process. If you study in Australia for a course that is longer than 10 months and finishes at the end of an Australian academic year (usually mid-December) your visa will usually be valid until 15 March the following year. If your course is longer than 10 months and finishes in January to October, your visa will usually be valid for two months following the completion of your course.

Under some circumstances, it may be possible to apply for a further visa at the end of your course (consult the Department of Home Affairs website for more details)

Using your student visa

You can enter Australia on your student visa up to 90 days before your course starts. Within seven days of arrival, you must inform your education provider of your resident address, and also inform them within seven days if you change address.

While on a student visa, you may work up to 40 hours per fortnight during term time, and full-time in the holidays. The visa is automatically issued with permission to work, although you’re not allowed to begin working until your course has started, and should not rely on work in order to support yourself or your family while in Australia.

If you’re studying a master’s by research or a PhD you don’t have any work restrictions. Keep in mind that any work required as part of your course is not included in the limit. Voluntary/unpaid work is also not included in the 40-hour limit if it’s genuinely voluntary, for a non-profit organization and for the benefit of the community.

While in possession of a student visa, you have certain obligations to fulfil: you must remain enrolled in a CRICOS-registered course, attend classes regularly, make satisfactory course progress and maintain OSHC health insurance. There are also certain visa conditions you and your dependents must comply with; breaching a visa condition may result in the cancellation of your visa.

This article was originally published in February 2014. It was last updated in August 2019 to reflect changes to Australian student visa policies.

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Written by Hasna Haidar

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Madam i applied FOR BBA FROM KOI and there is mistake they forgot to mention health insurance on offer letter or you can say there was an human error but i did not notice first and i lodged my application after a month when i was preparing for a interview i saw and disscused with my friend who is already there he told me that this is compulsory. i want to know what should i do now . should i ask for offer letter again from KOI and then upload on immi account or what should be my next step ? kindly help me is almost 2 month now .. let me again clear it was just an offer letter not coe

Hi Hassan. I would recommend contacting the immigration service directly to explain the situation and ask for guidance on whether you need to re-submit your application.

hello everyone,

myself chetan gandhi. i am from india.my canadian visa application was rejected twice . i had done my senior secondary(commerce) in 2015 with 58% marks lowest in economics 38 . now will i be able to apply for australian student visa and if there are any chances of visa. my ielts score is 6.5 . please reply asap. thank you

i am from india done 10+2 in physics chemistry and biology English and physical science with 6.9 GPA AND SCORED 6.5 Band in IELTS and 57 in PTE now i want to peruse bachelor of nursing kindly advise

hi all,i am Wajid from Pakistan.i did master in 2010 now i want to apply from graduate degree in Australia. can anybody inform me about the whole process. kindly inform me must.

Hi Wajid, please take a look at this article on studying at graduate level in Australia. Hope this helps!

Dear, I am shortly explaining my situation here.I completed my masters in Information science and library management last year (2014) and at the same time i got a job in European union in Bangladesh as the assistance of our head of section (finance ,contracts and audit section). now I want to go ahead for a higher degree in Masters of professional accounting.I got the offer letter as well as a scholarship for the Macquaire University of Sydney and my ielts score in 7.5. now my querry is I am applying with my spouse is it going to be a problem for getting visa?

and my subject of previous study was different from the subject I applied already..is that could be a problem?

please help me out with the answer as I am planning to submit for visa within next week.

Thanks in advance.

HI, I am planning to do Bachelor course in Australia. And I would like know whether I will get a stay back after the the course is completed. And If there is for how long? Please reply...

Hello, Its been 25 days that i have applied student visa file under SVP and till now i havn't got interview call or any other response from the Australian embassy. How much time do you think they will take to make a decision or are there any chances of refusal ?

Hi Tushar, I would advise you to get in touch with the embassy directly, as they should be able to tell you roughly how long it will take to process your application. 

Hi. I have completed Bachelors and Masters degree in UK and have stayed here for more than 5 years. Do i need to do IELTS to study another Masters in Australia?

Hi Ashish. IELTS test scores are valid for up to two years as after two years it may no longer be an accurate reflection of your level of English language proficiency. It therefore seems likely that you would need to take another test, but I would advise you to check with the universities you're applying for in Australia to see their preferences on English language tests and required scores. If you'd like to find out more about IELTS, we have recently updated our guide to the basics of the test. Hope this helps!

hello... im 17 years old and want to study in australia for bachlors... so how to get student visa for australia?

Hi Syed. First you'll need to apply to study at an Australian university, and be offered a place. To find out how to do that, take a look at our guide to studying in Australia. Best wishes!

Hello, I lodged a paper application SVP, my program starts in Feb 8, 2016, how long do you think I will wait before a decision can be made on my paper based visa application? Was it too early to apply?

Hi Erictack. You should expect to hear something within about a month. That does seem quite early (though this is always better than applying too late!), but your embassy will let you know if it's too early to process the application. If in doubt, I'd suggest contacting the embassy directly, and/or asking the international office at your Australian university for some guidance.

Madam i applied FOR BBA FROM KOI and there is mistake they forgot to mention health insurance on offer letter or you can say there was an human error but i did not notice first and i lodged my application after a month when i was preparing for a interview i saw and disscused with my friend who is already there he told me that this is compulsory. i want to know what should i do now . should i ask for offer letter again from KOI and then upload on immi account or what should be my next step ? kindly help me is almost 2 month now .. let me again clear it was just an offer letter not coe

Hello .
My university admission is on Feb-01-2016.I want to apply visa as soon as possible
Can you please guide me whether can i apply student visa from August?

Hi Saroj. You'll be able to complete the online application form 124 days before your course start date.

I'm Nepali citizen, Studying in Ireland, Dublin Griffith Collage course ( BACHELOR OF SCIENCE (HONS) IN COMPUTING SCIENCE), I had just finished my examinations of 1st year i would like to know if i can apply AUSTRALIA for 2nd year in good university for January sessions, the same course.
Any helping information would be appreciated.
chandramani lamsal

Hi Chandramani, first you'll need to find an Australian university which will accept credit transfers from European universities (many do, but it is not guaranteed). We have a ranking of the top universities in Australia for computer science but in order to find out whether they'll accept you as a 2nd year student you should visit the school's website or contact the admissions team directly. Laura

Hi Hasna,
The article is very informative. Could you please clarify this part for me, with regards to the Visa conditions for family members:

"You are not entitled to be granted a further substantive visa, other than:
a Student visa with permission to work
Note: if you apply for and are granted permission to work, this will change only the work conditions on your student visa, all other conditions will remain the same including 8534.
a Graduate-Skilled (subclass 497) visa
a further Student Guardian visa
a visa to engage Australia's obligations under the 1951 United Nations convention relating to the status of refugees.
Note: The effect of this visa condition is that, except in extremely limited circumstances, it will not be possible for you to remain in Australia beyond the date authorised by your visa."

Does this mean, for example, that my boyfriend will not be able to apply for a Skilled Visa, or, was he offered, to accept a sponsorship from an employer, during and after my two years study?

Thanks for letting me know

nice post ..its really helpful to me ..i found one site on that site also very informative articles are available just check out MSMBAinUSA..

hey, I'm want to study Australia,,, ... I'm a npali citizen... what will be the criteria for Studying IT in Australia.. and what about the fund = For loving,fees,travelling... any other...

Hi Rajendra. We have a guide to the costs of studying in Australia here: https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/student-finance/how-much-does-it-cost-study-australia
Hope this is helpful!

nice post,guys i have seen some blog on student visa

A professor from Adelaide University offered me to join to his research team there. I can use it as a job opportunity. I wish to join his team, but, meanwhile I want to continue my studying at Adelaide U. there is the question: Should I apply for a work visa or study visa? Which one would be easier to get? Is the University able to do anything for helping me to get the visa easier?
p.s. When I apply for student visa, how long does it normally take until I get it?
I’ve got so many questions in this subject and any helping information would be appreciated.
S. Sourani

Hi Saeed. I'd recommend contacting the university to ask them which visa is most appropriate for the position they've offered you. You need to allow at least four weeks for the visa application to be processed, but of course apply as soon as possible to avoid any last-minute panics!


PLEASE i want to apply for some universities in Australia...how can i get wedsite of some universities and e mail address

Hi Prince Kofi,

There are many great universities in Australia to choose from - the ones that feature in the QS World University Rankings can be viewed here. Each university has a profile that you can click on to find out information, but for specific application advice you will need to go directly to the university's website - just type the full name of the university into any search engine - and you'll find all the information you'll need on their site.

If you're looking for a specific subject to study in Australia, you might also want to view our subject rankings - here - and, after picking a subject, filter the region to 'Oceania'.

Good luck with your search!


can i know where can i get the application for applying Australian visa

Hi Shivaji,

You can download the application form from the DIAC website, which also helps you find the most suitable visa for your circumstances. You may also be able to obtain an application form from the Australian embassy or consulate in your country of origin.

Good luck with your application!