The basics
Australia: Visa Guides

Applying for a student visa in Australia

Check out our guide to getting an Australian student visa for international students...

Australia student visa

One of the most sought-after study destinations, Australia has some of the strictest immigration laws. Getting the student visa required to study abroad in Australia can seem daunting, but the process is quite straightforward provided you follow the steps correctly – plus, it’s all worth it in the end!

Let our step-by-step breakdown of the Australian student visa process for international students help make the application process less daunting.


Which student visa do I need?

When you study abroad in Australia, the student visa you’ll need depends on what type of study you’ll be undertaking. Each visa comes under a different official ‘Subclass,’ which just refers to how it is categorised by the government. Students undertaking shorter periods of study can apply for a Visitor or Working Holiday Maker Visa.

Whilst university students are most likely to require visas in subclasses 573 and 574, prospective students are advised to verify how their programme is classified and what visa they will need with their specific institution.

Depending on your mode of study, you’ll need the following visa:


Independent ELICOS (Subclass 570)

Applicable only to students enrolled in a registered English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS).


Vocational Education and Training (Subclass 572)

This visa is for students looking to undertake any of the following Australian courses in vocational training:

  • Certificate I, II, III and IV (except ELICOS)
  • VET diploma or advanced diploma
  • Vocational graduate certificate or graduate diploma


Higher Education (Subclass 573)

For students whose main course of study is a bachelor degree or a master’s degree taught by coursework.


Postgraduate Research (Subclass 574)

For students whose main course of study is a masters degree by research, or a PhD programme.


Non-award (Subclass 575)

Applicable to students participating in either a semester or year-long exchange program, or study abroad program.


AusAID or Defence (Subclass 576)

This visa is only applicable to students sponsored by AusAID or the Department of Defence.

More information on student visas and detailed eligibility requirements can be found on the visa sections of the Australian government’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

Learn more about the Visitor visa

Learn more about the Working Holiday Maker Visa



How do I apply for an Australian student visa?

Students must first be accepted for full-time study before they begin the application process, and be able to prove their status via electronic confirmation or enrolment letter from their host institution. Your host institution must be listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS)to offer you a place.

After you’ve been offered a place at an Australian university and paid your deposit, you will receive an ‘Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment’ (eCoE) via e-mail, detailing your total course fee, duration and start date.  You will need the details of this form to lodge your visa application.

You can begin your application through the Australian government’s immigration website.

Your application will be considered against one of five assessment levels, based on the level of immigration risk posed by applicants from a particular country. Each country is assigned an assessment level based on calculated risks of immigration within that group. The lower the assessment level, the lower the perceived risk of immigration.

If you are placed in a higher assessment level, you will be required to produce higher degrees of evidence to show that you intend to study in Australia. Students in lower assessment levels often have their visa processing times streamlined. If you have been accepted by a registered institution to study a bachelor or masters degree then you are also eligible to have your visa process streamlined, regardless of your country of origin.

There are also some, more general requirements to test your “standard of character”, though these shouldn’t pose a problem: they mainly refer to possessing suitable health insurance and ensuring students meet required financial standards. 


What evidence/documentation do I need to provide?

You must be able to demonstrate that you can cover the set AU$18,610 minimum annual living costs, as well as tuition fees and air fares (note that these costs will depend on where you choose to study).  You must also be able to prove that you can access these funds while studying, as well as provide evidence of your proficiency in the English language (IELTS scores) and the academic qualifications you have. Any translations of materials must be done so by a translator who has been accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).

Other specific documents you need to provide will vary depending on your study level and provider, and should be pursued directly with your host institution.


Cost of an Australian student visa

Costs vary depending on the type of visa you’re applying for and your specific circumstances. All applications however include a base fee of AU$535 that is supplemented by additional charges.

You can check exactly how much you’ll have to pay by looking at the visa pricing table. You can make these payments by debit or credit card.


Maintaining your visa

Australian student visas are conditional, so even once you’ve successfully obtained one you’ll have to comply with a set number of conditions to keep it. Whilst conditions vary across visa types, the following conditions apply to all visa subclasses:

  • You class attendance and academic progress must be of a satisfactory level
  • You must remain enrolled in a registered course, unless you are an AusAID/Defence student
  • You must maintain adequate health insurance
  • You must continue to satisfy the initial requirements of your visa: i.e. sufficient funds, same study programme
  • You won’t have permission to work as part of paid employment until your course commences, at which point you can work up to 40 hours per fortnight during term time (and unlimited hours outside of term time). This does not include unpaid, voluntary work, or that which is part of your course.
  • You must inform your host institution of your current address within 7 days of arriving in Australia

Read our guide to visa conditions while working in Australia




Now that you know more about applying for an Australian student visa, start searching for a course in Australia.


Read more:

'Post-study visa options in Australia'

'Applying to study in Australia'

Study in Australia


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About Author

Australia student visa

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.