Financial Capacity Requirements for Student Visa Applicants
Financial Capacity Requirements for Student Visa Applicants
The country and provider immigration risk model
The combined immigration risk outcomes of the student’s education provider and country of citizenship are used to guide the level of financial and English language evidence that a student needs to provide with their visa application.
Students associated with lower (that is, less) immigration risk outcomes are generally able to meet financial capacity requirements via declaration and English language proficiency requirements by satisfying their education provider – referred to as streamlined evidentiary requirements.
Students associated with higher (that is, greater) immigration risk outcomes are required to provide additional documentary evidence of their financial and English language capacity with their visa application – referred to as regular evidentiary requirements.
A student can determine their likely financial capacity and English language proficiency requirements by entering their intended education provider and country of citizenship into the Home Affairs website online client service tool.
Decision makers have the discretion to require evidence of financial capacity and English language proficiency from applicants with ‘streamlined evidentiary requirements’. However, decision makers should not diverge from the outcomes of the student’s combined country and provider immigration risk rating unless particular circumstances exist
Requesting evidence of funds from family members of streamlined applicants
Requesting formal evidence of financial capacity from subsequent entrant family members of streamlined students should be undertaken only in very limited circumstances.
Five examples of circumstances in which officers may consider requesting specified evidence are:
- If the student has changed course since their visa was granted and is now studying at an education provider that would have resulted in the student having to demonstrate funds as part of their visa application. Requesting funds from family members in this situation would generally be appropriate only if the student has been studying for less than 12 months on their current visa.
- Specific intelligence exists that raises concerns about the family members, the student’s or the entire family unit’s financial capacity.
- If the applicant has been granted a visa previously, any information that Home Affairs has in relation to their ability to meet their financial requirements while they were in Australia
- If the applicant has previously applied for a visa, any information that Home Affairs has in relation to their ability to provide for their living costs while in Australia.
- If the applicant has declared in their application that they do not have sufficient funds for the entire period of stay in Australia.
The amount of funds
The amount of funds an applicant must demonstrate if family member applicants are included in the application can be calculated by adding:
- the living cost amount defined in the legislative instrument for the first 12 months or pro rata amount (Currently Lin 19-198)
- the student’s first annual course fee
- the school fees for all school-age dependants for the first 12 months or pro rata amount and
- travel costs for the student and all family members.
The first 12 months
The first 12 months means the period that:
- if the application is made outside Australia – on the day of the applicant’s expected arrival in Australia or
- if the application is made in Australia – on the day that the student visa is expected to be granted to the applicant and
- ends on the earlier of:
- the day 12 months after the beginning of the period
- the last day of the applicant’s proposed stay in Australia.
Courses of less than 12 months
If the intended stay period is less than 12 months, the applicant must provide evidence on a pro rata basis of funds that they will use for the intended period of stay.
Prepaid course fees
If an applicant provides one or more CoEs with their visa application, any amount that the provider records on the CoE as prepaid may be deducted from the total course fees payable when calculating the amount of funds to cover course fees.
School fees for school-age dependants
The costs of schooling must be included in any financial capacity calculations if school-age dependants are included in the student visa application (either by making a combined application with the student, or by applying as a subsequent entrant). The costs of schooling for family members who do not apply for a student visa should not be included in the calculation.(Currently AUD 8 000 a year Lin 19-198)
If not yet of school age
If at time of visa decision, the child in question is not a school-age dependant (that is, is under 5 years old) but will become so during the first 12 months of the intended stay period, the cost of schooling must be included in any financial capacity calculations from the time they do become a school-age dependant until the end of the first 12 months.
This cost should be calculated on a pro-rata basis for the number of days out of 365 the child will be a school-age dependant.
Exemptions for school fees
Dependent children of PhD students are not required to demonstrate capacity to meet school costs if they provide evidence of enrolment in an Australian government school because Australian government schools exempt children of PhD students from paying school fees.
Dependent children of Australian Commonwealth Government scholarship recipients, including children of DFAT and Defence students, are not required to demonstrate this amount if they provide evidence of enrolment in a government school and commonwealth scholarship. Australian government schools exempt children of Commonwealth scholarship recipients from paying school fees.
The legislative instrument (Currently Lin 19-198) specifies that family member applicants whose application is not combined with the primary student will have to provide either:
- evidence that the primary applicant’s spouse/de facto partner or parents have a specified annual income or
- evidence of sufficient funds to cover travel costs, and the first 12 months’ living costs and course fees for themselves and each family applicant, including those family members who already hold an associated student visa.
If the subsequent entrant cannot provide evidence of financial capacity for themselves, family members and those who already hold an associated visa, the primary applicant’s visa can be referred because they may have breached visa condition 8516.
Amount of funds to demonstrate
The amount of funds an applicant must demonstrate can be identified by adding the following :
- living cost amount for the student and all accompanying family members for the first 12 months
- student’s course fees for the first 12 months
- school fees for all school-age dependants for the first 12 months
- travel costs for the student and all family members.
The types of evidence that are permitted are:
- money deposit(s) with a financial institution
- loan with a financial institution
- government loan
- scholarship or financial support.
The value of an item of property is not a permitted type of evidence for clause 500.214 purposes.
It is generally not open to officers to request evidence of additional funds above and beyond that prescribed.
The relationship of the individual/organisation providing the funds to the applicant must be considered under the ‘genuine access’ component of the financial requirement.
Decision makers may consider the circumstances of the applicant/person providing the funds to determine whether the applicant(s) would genuinely have access to the funds.
Examples of circumstances that may be considered are:
- the employment history of the applicant/person providing the funds
- the income and assets of the applicant/person providing the funds
- the source of the income used to meet the financial requirements (for example, if the applicant is relying upon funds from a third party (for example, a family friend), and the nature of the relationship between the applicant and the person providing the funds
- if the person providing the source of income has provided financial support for another student visa applicant
- if the applicant has previously been granted a visa, any information which Home Affairs has in relation to their ability to meet their financial requirements while they were in Australia
- if the applicant has previously applied for a visa, any information which Home Affairs has in relation to their ability to provide for their living costs while in Australia
- the immigration activities in Australia of other nationals from the applicant’s home country are such that further investigation into the genuine intentions of the student should be undertaken
- relevant intelligence and analysis reports on illegal immigration and malpractice (if relevant to the individual’s circumstances).
Genuine access – Annual income
Applicants who have demonstrated sufficient funds by providing evidence of the annual income of their spouse/de facto partner or parent would need to show that they would genuinely have access to the funds generated from the income. Because the annual income requirement is restricted to the applicant’s spouse/de facto partner or parents, there is generally no need to further scrutinise ‘genuine access’ based on the relationship to the applicant.
However, in order to meet the ‘genuine access’ component of the financial requirement, the applicant may need to provide evidence of the relationship to the applicant of the person providing the funds. Decision makers may also seek evidence of the currency of employment/asset ownership generating the personal income, particularly if there are concerns with the age of the records, or information available to the decision maker to indicate there may have been a change in circumstances (for example significant economic downturn in a country, or specific intelligence about an applicant).
Additional scrutiny may also be appropriate if the amount of personal income demonstrated is equal to the amount required, suggesting that the funds have been generated specifically to meet visa requirements.
Genuine access – Money deposit
Money deposits held by the applicant, the applicant’s spouse/de facto partner or the applicant’s parents would generally satisfy the genuine access requirement.
Funds that are not committed to the applicant are less likely to be available to the applicant for the purpose of financially supporting the applicant in Australia. For example, if several family members and/or third parties are contributing to the applicant’s stay in Australia, the money is less likely to be available to the applicant in Australia than if the money is in the applicant’s own name (or the name of their spouse/de facto partner /parent, as relevant).
An example of a situation in which an applicant would reasonably be expected to have access to funds in Australia in circumstances where the money deposit is in another person’s name, is where the applicant will live with a relative in Australia and the relative will provide for all (or some) costs and expenses while in Australia. For example, the relative will provide for all living costs, but the student’s parents will fund, for example, course fees.
Consideration should be given to eight factors:
- whether the account is held in the applicant’s name
- the relationship of third parties to the applicant and the account holder (for example, are they a relative)
- whether the money is a lump sum payment in an account (even if held by the applicant or their spouse/de facto partner /parent) or is there a savings history to accumulate the funds (this should include where third party ‘donations’ or ‘loans’ have come from
- how long the money has been in the account
- where the account is held (for example, held in Australia, or whether held in a country from which large money deposits cannot be transferred internationally)
- if the money deposit is held outside Australia, whether there is evidence that the exchange control regulations of the country permit the remittance of funds for study and where necessary whether evidence of requisite approval is available
- the applicant’s age
- the family’s individual circumstances.
If a business account is presented as evidence of financial capacity, decision makers must be satisfied that those funds will be for the use of the student while the student is in Australia.
(Note: If financial support is being provided by a business, it is the business (and not the individuals within the business) that provides the support. Unless the persons who have the authority to commit the business are identified and appropriate documentation is obtained, genuine access to the funds cannot be established.)
In these circumstances, the business should be able to transfer the funds that it wishes to commit towards the student into an account (current, savings or term deposit) in the name of the student or the person providing the financial support. The applicant may be asked to provide evidence that the source of funds was the business.
Where funds have been transferred into an acceptable financial institution but have come from another source, supporting documents should show that the student has genuine access to these funds. For example:
- evidence of income or transfers from another institution/account, with further scrutiny where the record of transfer from the other institution or account is not generally reliable.
- when the money in provident funds is deposited into an account with an acceptable financial institution and the applicant has unrestricted access, evidence of the provident fund terms, withdrawal and amendment to fund account.
- similarly, funds transferred from an account at an institution that is the usual bank of the student or sponsor (such as a post office account) to a financial institution on the approved list can be supported by the account history. Where this shows that a wage has been credited into the account, this can be supported by evidence of employment.
Genuine access – Loans from financial institutions (including credit cards)
Loans should be in the name of the student or other individual providing financial support to the student.
Decision makers may wish to seek additional information to be satisfied that the loan is for the support of the student and is not a loan that has been committed to other purposes. As four examples, this may occur if:
- the loan is for a considerable amount more than required
- the loan was taken out a significant period before the visa application was made
- the loan was provided as support for another student
- the loan is made to (or applied for by) a business.
Loans in the name of the applicant, the applicant’s spouse/de facto partner or the applicant’s parents would generally meet the genuine access requirement unless there is evidence indicating that the funds from the loan may not genuinely be available to the student visa applicants.
If the loan is jointly held in another person’s name, consideration should be given to the relationship between the student visa applicant and the loan holders to establish whether the funds will genuinely be available to the applicant in Australia.
If a loan was obtained against collateral, consideration should be given to who the collateral for the loan is owned by and that individual’s relationship to the applicant.
Another consideration may the amount of time before the application that the loan was obtained. If the loan was drawn down many months before the application was lodged, the applicant should be able to demonstrate either that the funds are in an account (current or savings) in the name of the student or the individual providing financial support or have been used to pay expenses such as course fees and airfares.
To be satisfied the funds will be available to the applicant, decision makers may consider four factors:
- whether the funds have been disbursed and if yes, in whose account the funds have been deposited
- what the collateral for the loan was (property, money deposit) and who owns that asset
- if the collateral was a money deposit, how the funds in the money deposit were accumulated and for how long the deposit has been held
- evidence that the exchange control regulations of the country permit the remittance of funds for study and where necessary evidence that requisite approval.
Business loans do not meet the ‘genuine access’ requirement.
Evidence of disbursement is the best way to satisfy us that the student will have genuine access to these funds:
- where the education loan relates to course fees that will be paid directly to the education provider, disbursement according to the agreement with the education provider, financial institution and student should be provided. For example, this may be for the first semester’s course fees. Information about the terms of the loan, including any conditions around disbursement, should also be attached to the application.
- if the education loan includes living expenses, agents should consider showing that the first 12 months of these funds have been disbursed. Alternatively, they could consider showing that the student is relying on another source of funds to cover the first year of living costs.
In the case of applications made in Australia by student visa holders; if the evidence of funds relates to the proceeds of an overseas loan or money deposit held overseas, the applicant may be requested to arrange for the transfer of funds for the first 12 months into an account with a bank in Australia. Evidence of genuine access would be bank statements of the Australian account showing the deposit and a trail to show that the funds are proceeds from the overseas loan or deposit previously identified.
Genuine access – Government loans, scholarships or financial support
A student visa applicant would generally satisfy the genuine access requirements if the student is to be funded by one of the following six entities through a scholarship or other formal funding arrangement:
- the student’s education provider in Australia (refer to Education provider scholarship)
- the Australian Commonwealth Government
- the government of a State or Territory in Australia
- the national government of a foreign country
- a provincial or state government of a foreign country that has the written support of the national government of that foreign country
- an international organisation that operates across several countries (for example an agency of the United Nations).
If there are concerns based on the circumstances of the entity providing the funds, the decision maker may request further information to verify funds will be available and genuinely accessible by the applicant. Four examples of situations in which further information may be required are:
- there is publicly available information that an organisation has a limited life span
- there is limited public information about the organisation
- there are doubts that the organisation is actively and lawfully operating in Australia or overseas
- there are doubts whether the organisation has funds or an income sufficient to provide the financial support.
Education provider scholarship
For the purposes of a student visa application, scholarships that meet the following four policy requirements generally meet the genuine access requirement:
- awarded to the student by the student’s education provider or proposed education provider
- awarded on the basis of merit and an open selection process
- awarded to the student as a student who is enrolled in a course leading to the award of a Certificate IV or higher qualification
- awarded to no more than 10% of overseas students in a course intake or no more than 3 overseas students in an intake (whichever is the greater).
A student visa applicant who claims financial support from their education provider or proposed education provider is expected to provide supporting documentation from the education provider. Documentation from the provider is expected to address each of the four factors above. Further evidence should be requested only if decision makers have concerns that the scholarship does not comply with these factors.
Corporate sponsorship would satisfy the genuine access requirements if either:
- the proposed course of study is consistent with their background and role within the corporation or
- there is a demonstrated need within the corporation for the student to be trained or retrained
In either case the applicant should be an employee of the company.
For Primary Applicants (Section 6 (2)(b))
Annual Living Cost for primary applicant (Section 6 (2)(b)(ii))
The primary applicant has sufficient funds available to meet the following costs and expenses of the primary applicant:
(i) travel expenses; and
(ii) the following living costs and expenses:
(A) if the primary applicant intends to stay in Australia for a period of 12 months or more – AUD21,041 (annual living costs); and
(B) if the primary applicant intends to stay in Australia for a period of less than 12 months – the pro rata equivalent of annual living costs, calculated as specified in section 11;
Course Fee (Section 6 (2)(b)(iii))
- (A) if the duration, or the remainder, of the primary applicant’s period of study in Australia is less than 12 months – the fees for the course of study or the remaining components of the course of study; or
- (B) If the duration, or the remainder, of the primary applicant’s period of study in Australia is more than 12 months – course fees for the first 12 months of the period study in Australia;
For each secondary applicant making a combined application with the primary applicant (Section 6 (2)(b)(iiii))
- (i) travel expenses; and
- (ii) the following living costs and expenses:
(A) for a spouse or de facto partner – AUD7,362 and
(B) for a dependent child – AUD3,152; and
- (iii) for each secondary applicant who intends to stay in Australia for a period of less than 12 months – the pro rata equivalent of annual living
School fees for each school-age dependant:(Section 6 (2)(b)(iiii)(iv))
- (A) if the school-age dependant intends to stay in Australia for more than 12 months – AUD8,296 (annual school costs); or
- (B) if the school-age dependant intends to stay in Australia for less than 12 months – the pro rata equivalent
Evidence of Income (Section 6 (3))
- (a) is official Government documentation of personal income that has been issued in the 12 months immediately before the application is made; and
- (b) demonstrates that the primary applicant’s parent, spouse or de facto partner has a personal annual income, in the 12 months immediately before the
application is made, that is:
(i) if there is no secondary applicant– at least AUD62,222; or
(ii) if there is a secondary applicant – at least AUD72,592