How COVID-19 affected international student visas in Australia?
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The coronavirus pandemic has affected people all over the world in a myriad of ways. From closing down airports to changing via restrictions and allowances. The Australian Government, like many others, has announced International Student Visa Changes due to COVID-19 as Australia is one of the most popular destinations for higher education with world-class rankings and some of the most affordable rates, along with the permanent residence. As of now, international students bring in over $40 billion per annum and provide over 300,000 jobs. This also majorly contributes to the migration which is bound to face a significant drop in the next year due to the pandemic consequently affecting the economy. Due to the border closure, the COVID-19 pandemic has made way for some significant changes to the VISA policies and laws regarding international student visas. This also means that many students, and most likely a majority of them will not be able to return to continue their studies. Many universities are conducting online classes. Many Australian universities have also offered their students the option to defer their studies during this tough time. There are plans in many countries inclusive of Australia to bring back their international students for the following semesters, but with the risk of second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic – this has been put to a stop. From March 2020 to June 2020, the number of international students in Australia has declined by 4.7%.
New announcements to International Student Visa changes due to COVID-19 in Australia
There have been five major changes to the international student visas due to COVID-19. On the 20th of July, the government announced said modifications to the student visa arrangements. It goes as follows;
- The Australian Government will start granting student visas again in locations that are outside of Australia. This allows students that do not currently live in Australia to have visas and easily travel to Australia once the borders are open.
- International students will be able to submit a student visa without cost if they cannot continue their studies due to their original visa rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The international students that currently hold visas and that are continuing to study online outside Australia are able to use that study time and work to contribute to the Australian study requirement that allows them to be eligible for a post-study work visa. And can use this as an advantage if they consider converting a student VISA to PR.
- Graduates of universities based in Australia who held a student visa will continue to be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa even if they are outside Australia if they are unable to return due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The government will provide supplementary time for applicants to provide their English language test results in locations where the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted or limited access to the mentioned services.
- For updated information related to International Student VISA changes due to Covid-19 pandemic, please visit https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/student-visa
Australian Government Support for International Students due to COVID-19
As mentioned before, Australia is one of the most popular destinations for higher education and permanent residence. The nation is safe, welcoming, and diverse and prides itself on that. The Australian government will be changing new Australian visa arrangements as time goes on and the situation changes – these changes will bring in more regulations for international students inclusive of fee waivers for those who had no choice but to remain in Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With this in mind, more and more organizations have begun to support international students with funding and welfare support. All international students are fully encouraged to remain in touch with their education suppliers for what they can continue to support the students during the COVID-19 pandemic. As said before, many universities are offering deferrals in both studies and payment along with food, accommodation, medical support, and more to those who remain on campus. For the international students who have been in Australia for longer than one year and are facing financial troubles, the government is providing an allowance for them to access their superannuation. The government is also providing working arrangements for international students employed by a health or elderly care organization which can be discussed with the employer itself.
Many states in Australia are working alongside the education sector in order to provide support for international students. In Victoria, the government has announced a $45 billion fund for the students facing trouble due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to this, The International Student Emergency Relief Fund will be providing payments that range to $1,100 for international students who have lost their jobs or faced severe salary deductions (https://www.studymelbourne.vic.gov.au/help-and-support/support-for-students-coronavirus). New South Wales’ government has provided several support services for the international students residing there allowing them to meet their living expenses and food expenses (https://education.nsw.gov.au/news/media-releases/nsw-government-supporting-international-students-through-covid-19). In South Australia, the government has joined forces with the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia to provide $13.8 million for the International Student Support Package which will ease the struggles the international students are facing because of the COVID-19 pandemic (https://studyadelaide.com/issp). Aside from this, many other states and territories have set up services to alleviate the troubles with living, food, and other expenses as well as providing healthcare, mental health care, and so on.
Lastly, we advise you to contact your university student services team, your international study agent, or a registered migration agent if you need further clarification on COVID-19 related student VISA changes.