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Australian student visa: How are assessment levels determined?

Get to know the assesment level for vocational education, higher education and post-graduate research sector.

Antony Chacko
Visa Assesment levels

The five different assessment levels allow the Australian visa office to measure objectively the levels of risk involved in granting a student visa to a particular applicant.

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In the student visa assessment program, there are five different assessment levels. They bring into line all students visa requirements to the immigration risk posed by applicants from a particular country studying in a particular education division. Assessment Level 1 signifies the lowest immigration risk and Assessment Level 5 the maximum. The greater the Assessment Level, the more the evidence an applicant is required to exhibit to support their claims for the grant of a student visa.

The department considers every potential student visa application on their individual virtues. Assessment Levels rationalize this process, allowing the department to deliver quick and efficient service to its applicants while maintaining the integrity of Australia's immigration program.
 
Transparency in visa requirements and consistent decisions are a crucial part of the student visa program. With visas being granted to students from over 190 different countries, assessment levels function as an objective measure to tackle immigration risk for each of these student groups as a key tool in determining visa requirements and facilitate consistency in decisions across this diverse range of visa applicants.

Determining the Assessment Level

If a student’s passport is not listed, students will be subject to Assessment Level 3 or if they are sponsored by AusAID or Defence and are applying for a Subclass 576 – AusAID/Defence student visa they will be subject to Assessment Level 2.

Each country is assigned an assessment level which is based on the calculated immigration risk posed by students from that country studying in that education sector. To identify the evaluation level of a particular country the department examines that group's fulfilment with their visa requirements and other indicators of their immigration risk in the previous year. Where these statistical pointers show that a group has a higher level of immigration risk over a given period, the department reacts to this trend by raising the Assessment Level of that group. As a result, this requires applicants to produce a higher level of proof to support their claims that they wish to study in Australia.

When students follow all the visa requirements, they lower the immigration risk and hence their assessment level is also lowered streamlining the visa process by reducing the level of evidence that these applicants need to submit to support their claims for a student visa. The department regularly undertakes a comprehensive risk assessment of the whole student visa caseload and reviews the Assessment Levels to ensure that they align to the immigration risk of groups.

Role of your passport

The student’s passport and their principal course are the two basic things that determine the student’s assessment level of their visa application. Students to identify the assessment level of their visa application, they must match their passport type with the visa subclass for the education sector of their principal course.

The student’s highest assessment level being level 5 or the student’s lowest assessment level being level 1. The student’s passport and the education sector of their course will determine the appropriate assessment level for their visa application. Students, to identify the assessment level for their visa application, they need to match the nationality of the passport they hold with the visa subclass for the education sector(s) of their course(s). The table below lists passport countries and the visa subclasses/education sectors.  

Student Visa Processing Assessment Levels

Visa Subclass/Education Sector

Passport held 

570
ELICOS 

571
Schools

572
VET 

573
Higher
Education 

574
Postgraduate
Research 

575
Non Award

576
AusAID/
Defence

India

4

2

4

3

1

3

2

Sri Lanka

4

3

4

4

2

3

2

Nepal

3

2

4

3

1

3

2

Bangladesh

4

4

4

3

2

3

2

Pakistan 

4

3

4

4

2

4

2

 
Students to be eligible for streamlined visa processing; they must provide proof of their confirmation of enrolment for a qualified course from a participating institution at the time that they file their application.  Eligible courses include Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees. These applications are assessed as lower migration risk groups similar to the current Assessment Level 1.

Visa subclass/education sector

There are different types of student visas and the following subclasses are based on the education sector of the student’s main course of study: 
•    570 – Independent ELICOS 
•    571 – Schools 
•    572 – Vocational Education and Training 
•    573 – Higher Education 
•    574 – Postgraduate Research 
•    575 – Non-Award 
•    576 – AusAID or Defence 

Default Assessment Level 2:

Every student sponsored by AusAID or Defence seeking Subclass 576 (AusAID or Defence Sector) visas is assessment level 2. 

Every student holding a passport which is not listed in the table, with course of study in the subclass 574 (Postgraduate Research) sector are Assessment Level 2. 

Default Assessment Level 3:

Every student holding a passport which is not listed in the table, with course of study in the following education sectors are Assessment Level 3: 

•    570 – Independent ELICOS 
•    571 – Schools 
•    572 – Vocational Education and Training 
•    573 – Higher Education 
•    575 – Non-Award.

Bringing Family

Most student visas allow foreign students to bring their family members to Australia as their dependants if the students are:
•    Entitled for streamlined visa processing assessment level 1 or 2; or
•    Assessment level 3 or 4 and the course is longer than 12 months or the students have been in Australia for 12 months or more.

Family Member’s Assessment Level

The student’s family members may be qualified to apply for a visa to go with the students to Australia and are subject to the same assessment level as the student, regardless of the type of passport the family member holds.

The student’s family members may be qualified to apply for a visa to go with the students to Australia and are subject to the same assessment level as the student, regardless of the type of passport the family member holds.

Vocational Education and Training Sector:

Temporary Visa (Subclass 572) - Assessment Level 4

This visa is intended for foreign students looking to study in Australia and whose course of study is:
  • Up to 4 certificate level courses which include a certificate IV course totalling up to 12 months
  • Diploma
  • Advanced diploma
  • Vocational graduate certificate; or
  • Vocational graduate diploma

Who is this visa for?

This visa is for students who are:
  • Applying for their first student visa
  • Applying for a succeeding student visa
  • Dependents planning to join the student(s) in Australia

Students while applying for a Vocational Education and Training Sector:

Temporary Visa (Subclass 572), they must either be the present holder of a qualifying visa or have held a certain visa no more than 28 days prior to lodging their visa application.

How much will this visa cost?

Students must pay a non-refundable visa application charge of AUD 535/INR 29590.10 when they lodge their visa application.

What does the visa allow?

After obtaining the visa:
  • Students can study in Australia
  • Student’s eligible dependant family member(s) can accompany the students to Australia
  • After the students have commenced their course of study in Australia, they can work up to 40 hours per fortnight while their course is in session and unlimited hours during scheduled course breaks.
  • Student’s family member(s) can work up to 40 hours per fortnight provided they have commenced their course of study in Australia.
  • Student’s partner can study in Australia for up to three months and if they want to study for more than three months they must apply for their own student visa which can be applied in Australia.

Higher Education Sector:

Temporary Visa (Subclass 573) - Assessment Level 3
This visa is meant for foreign students looking to study in Australia and whose main course of study is:
  • A Bachelor’s degree
  • An associate degree
  • A graduate certificate
  • A graduate diploma
  • Master’s by coursework
  • Higher Education diploma
  • Higher Education advanced diploma

Who is this visa for?

This visa is for students who are:
  • Applying for their first student visa
  • Applying for a succeeding student visa
  • Dependents planning to join the student(s) in Australia

Students while applying for a Higher Education Sector:

Temporary Visa (Subclass 573) - Assessment Level 3, they must either be the present holder of a qualifying visa or have held a certain visa no more than 28 days prior to lodging their visa application.

How much will this visa cost?

Students must pay a non-refundable visa application charge of AUD 535/INR 29590.10 when they lodge their visa application.

What does the visa allow?

After obtaining the visa:
  • Students can study in Australia
  • Student’s eligible dependant family member(s) can accompany the students to Australia
  • After the students have commenced their course of study in Australia, they can work up to 40 hours per fortnight while their course is in session and unlimited hours during scheduled course breaks.
  • Student’s family member(s) can work up to 40 hours per fortnight provided they have commenced their course of study in Australia.
  • If students are pursuing a postgraduate course their family members can work unlimited hours once the students commence their course.
  • Student’s partner can study in Australia for up to three months and if they want to study for more than three months they must apply for their own student visa which can be applied in Australia.

Postgraduate Research Sector:

Temporary Visa (Subclass 574) - Assessment Level 1
This visa is meant for international students who are looking to pursue a Master’s degree by research or a Doctoral degree in Australia.

Who is this visa for?

This visa is for students who are:
  • Applying for their first student visa
  • Applying for a subsequent student visa
  • Dependents planning to join the student(s) in Australia
If students are planning to apply in Australia for this visa, they should either be the current holder of a qualifying visa or should have held a certain visa no more than 28 days prior to lodging their visa application.
 
When the main course of study is:
  • Master’s by Research
  • Doctoral Degree

How much will this visa cost?

Students must pay a non-refundable visa application charge of AUD 535/INR 29590.10 when they lodge their visa application.

What does the visa allow?

After obtaining the visa:
  • Students can study in Australia
  • Student’s eligible dependant family member(s) can accompany the students to Australia
  • After the students have commenced their course of study in Australia, they can work unlimited hours once their course is in session.
  • Student’s family member(s) can work unlimited hours once the students commence their master’s by research or doctoral degree.
  • Student’s partner can study in Australia for up to three months and if they want to study for more than three months they must apply for their own student visa which can be applied in Australia.
  • If students are taking up a preliminary course like ELICOS, the students and their family member(s) will be restricted to work until the students have commenced their master’s or doctorate degree in Australia.
All the Best.

Source: www.immi.gov.au/

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