2020 hasn’t been fantastic with COVID-19 becoming this year’s unfortunate reality.

With the Australian borders being forced to close prior to the start of a new school term, many international students are currently stranded overseas and forced to study remotely for an unforeseeable period of time. In addition to this, recent graduates stuck offshore have had to ditch their post-study work plans because of their inability to return to Australia to lodge their subsequent Graduate visas.

Fortunately, the Australian Government has been quick to recognise the importance of the overseas education sector and has jumped right into making amendments to minimise the impact of COVID 19 on the international student community.

On July 20th 2020, the Government announced the following changes to existing Student visa requirements:

  • Re-starting the visa grant process for all offshore student visa applications to allow students to re-enter once travel restrictions are lifted.
  • Providing additional time for the submission of English language results because of the disruptions to testing centers due to COVID-19.
  • Waiving the VAC fee for students and student guardians who have been unable to complete their studies within the original visa validity period because of COVID-19 and, are now reapplying for the same visas (SC 500 and 590) to pick up where they last left off.  To be exempt from further visa application charges (VAC), applicants must have held their preceding visas on or after the 1st of February 2020.
  • Students who have been forced to study remotely due to border closures, are now able to use the period of online studies towards their Australian Study Requirement.  This change in particular, is significant given that an overseas student had to be physically present in Australia for a period of at least 16 months prior to the reform.
  • And lastly, recent graduates currently residing overseas, are now eligible to apply for a post-study work visa (also known as a Temporary Graduate Visa) which previously, had to be lodged in Australia within 6 months of completing the qualification. Obviously with the presence of COVID, many graduates who are deemed eligible have been left stranded offshore.

Supporting international students to support Australian jobs

International students contribute towards an estimated $40 billion of annual income to the Australian economy and support approximately 250,000 jobs. So it’s definitely reassuring that the Government has acted swiftly to protect our international student community and ensure that the education and student visa sector remains competitive with the rest of the world.

Additionally, our geographic location has in this instance, worked in our favour.  By being one of the most isolated countries in the world, our COVID numbers have remained relatively low which has in turn, placed Australia as a top country of choice for overseas migration.

Although the road ahead seems shrouded with uncertainty and the possibility of a vaccine appears pretty far-off, the good news is that everything eventually comes to an end. And while the world slowly makes its way towards resuming normalcy, there’s never been a better time than now to kick-start your plans of returning to Australia. If you need any help or advice, get in touch with the visa team at VEVS.  We’re always here to support you.