Student visa crackdown from July

Feet of person about to cross line with Australian flag. | Newsreel
It will be harder to obtain a student visa while in Australia from July 1. | Photo: Mirsad Sarajlic (iStock)

From July, visitors to Australia will no longer be able to apply for a student visa while still in the country.

The Federal Government will also change rules for Temporary Graduate Visa holders in an attempt to restrict “visa hopping”.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said visa hopping allowed students and other temporary visa holders to continuously extend their stay in Australia, in some cases indefinitely.

Minister O’Neil said the numbers of international students staying in Australia on a second, or subsequent, student visa had grown by over 30 percent, to more than 150,000, in 2022–23.

She said renowned Australian demographer Peter McDonald had recently stated that curtailing visa hopping, by accepting fewer visa applications from people already in the country, would better manage population growth than cuts to the permanent migration intake.

“The Government has already taken action to address this, by using no further stay conditions on visitor visas and through the Genuine Student requirement implemented in March, which has stopped thousands of students from hopping from student visa to student visa unless there is credible course progression.”

She said from July 1, Visitor Visa holders would not be able to apply for Student Visas onshore.

Minister O’Neil said the visitor to student pathway had become increasingly prevalent, with over 36,000 applications between July 1 last year and the end of May.

“This measure closes a pathway that has been used to attempt to subvert the Government’s strengthened offshore student visa integrity measures,” she said.

Minister O’Neil said, in addition, from July 1, Temporary Graduate Visa holders would not be able to apply for Student Visas onshore.

“In their recent Graduates in Limbo report, the Grattan Institute found that 32 percent of Temporary Graduate Visa holders are returning to study when their visa expires in order to prolong their stay in Australia,” she said.

“This change makes it clear that graduates should be finding skilled jobs and becoming permanent residents, or departing the country when they are more likely to become ‘permanently temporary’.”

She said the changes supported a range of other changes that were being implemented for Temporary Graduate visa holders on July 1.

“These include significantly shorter post-study work rights, reduced age limits from 50 to 35 years of age and increased English language requirements, which were implemented in March.”