Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program – Recommendations
Recommendation 3 – Streamlined Visa Processing (SVP) for universities
3.1 That all students in the categories set out below, irrespective of their country of origin – but subject to the provisions in 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7 should be treated as though they are all Assessment Level 1.
3.2 This treatment should apply to the following university student applicants:
– Bachelor Degree
– 2 plus 2 (or 3 plus 1) arrangements with partner universities
– Masters Degree by coursework.
3.3 The special treatment should not apply to:
– short courses
– Associate Degree
– Graduate diploma
– Graduate certificate
– Diploma and Advanced Diploma
– non-award courses (except as provided for in Recommendation 18)
– the non-university courses at the 6 universities which are dual sector (VET & university)
3.4 Package courses with university degrees
3.5 Health, Character and Security Checks
3.6 DIAC’s authority over student visas
3.7 Exceptions – groups that form an unacceptably high visa risk
What does all this stuff actually mean? It is a way of saying that students who want to take degree programs at Australian Universities will have a quick and easy student visa process. The Streamlined Visa Processing started on April 26th this year, and it really is very straightforward. Philippine students need to present an Application Form (long, but not too bad), a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) form issued by the university where they will be studying, a declaration that they have access to funds to pay for their studies, and take an approved medical test to show that they are fit and healthy. NO NEED TO SUBMIT A PASSPORT! A certified copy is sufficient.
Something else which is new is that there is no longer an actual visa stickered or printed into the passport. A Grant of Visa form is issued (which Inter-Ed laminates for its students), and the number on this form is all that is required for boarding a plane and entering Australia. This is just the extension of the practice which has been happening for European visitors for the last 3 – 4 years.
What’s the catch?? None really, except that students now have to send to the university where they will be studying the documents that previously they sent to the embassy – i.e. Birth Cert, NBI Clearance, Bank Certs for financial support, certified transcripts of record, etc. But all in all, a major improvement for Philippine students who now may make their visa application either on-line (yes…. on-line!!) or through hard copy. Turnaround time is typically about 20 days with the medical taking most of the time. The visa section at the Australian Embassy refers to these applications as ALX (Assessment Level Exempt) and to date this process is going very well.
Does this mean no visa denials? No – the embassy will still be checking to ensure that you are a genuine temporary entrant (GTE) and a genuine student – see Article on Recommendations 1 & 2.
What about article 3.7? Who does this refer to? This refers to groups of people who could be tempted to enter Australia as students simply to gain refuge there from political upheavals in their home country, or who are threatened by civil conflict, or religious/gender violence. No groups have been specifically identified to date but one wonders how long it will be before the inhabitants of Detroit, Dagestan or the Faulkland Islands get listed!!
Watch this space for the next article on Recommendation 4, which is all about Post-Study Work Rights for students going to Australian Universities or studying degree programs. This series of articles may be used and reprinted PROVIDED this website is acknowledged as the source and the author as Roger Bartholomew who has asserted the moral right to be identified as the author of this article.
Students wanting to study in Australia for July 2012 or Feb 2013 should contact Inter-Ed on 819-1001, text 0917-535-1956, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment for free counselling to get all the information needed about studying in Australia.