Student Visa-Visa Grant Period
With the exception of student of primary school age, the maximum period of effect for a student visa is generally 5 years. If a student is packaging two or more courses together, the visa would be granted to the end of the course ending before 5 years.
Excessive or unusual course progression — for example if a package spans several qualifications and sectors — would not support a visa grant of over 5 years.
The visa should be granted in accordance with the expiry date of the OSHC and if relevant, welfare arrangements, up to the maximum period as outlined above:
- •students undertaking a course or package of courses that are 10 months or more duration finishing in November-December should be granted a visa that ceases 15 March of the year following course completion
- •students undertaking a course or package of courses that are 10 months or more duration finishing in January to October should be granted a visa that ceases two calendar months after the expected date of course completion (as stated on the CoE)
- •students undertaking a course or package of courses of less than 10 months’ duration should be granted a visa that ceases one calendar month after the expected date of course completion. This excludes certain foreign government-sponsored Non-Award university students who should be granted a visa that ceases 15 March of the year following course completion. Refer to For foreign government sponsored university students.
- students who apply with a new COE to complete a course they have already commenced should be granted a visa based on the new COE only. The period of grant will depend on the length of that COE and the date of expected completion based on the three principles above. For example, if the COE covers a study period of 11 months and the course end date is 30 November, the visa should be granted that ceases 15 March of the following year.
All initial Postgraduate Research visa recipients are to be granted an additional six months on the length of their visa on top of what is normally granted for other student visa sectors. This additional time allows these students to remain in Australia during the interactive marking of their thesis. Applicants who:
- •are undertaking a course of more than 10 months duration finishing in November-December should be granted a visa that ceases 15 September (an additional 6 months from 15 March) of the year following course completion or
- •are undertaking a course of more than 10 months duration finishing in January to October should be granted a visa that ceases 8 calendar months (2 months that would have been granted under general circumstances and an additional 6 months for interactive thesis marking) after the expected date of course completion.
A visa applicant may request that the additional 6 months not be granted (for example, if they do not intend to write a thesis or do not intend to stay in Australia for the marking period). Also, another party (such as a foreign government providing funding for a government scholarship over a defined period of time) may also request that the visa be granted without the additional six months.
Postgraduate Research visa holders who are in Australia and require additional time to complete their interactive marking process may be granted a further student visa for this purpose only for a maximum period of 6 months. If visa holders require extra time at the end of this period, they may be granted further consecutive visas, though never for a period exceeding 6 months at a time.
These visa holders must provide appropriate supporting evidence (that is, a letter from their education provider) that they are required to remain for this purpose. The visa should be granted in accordance with the end date nominated by the provider in the letter (as long as this period does not exceed 6 months at a time). If there is no end date nominated by the education provider the visa should be granted for 6 months from the date of the education provider’s letter.
This option is not available to visa applicants undertaking a masters degree by course work.
Family unit members accompanying or joining the student should be granted visas corresponding to the end date of the student’s visa, unless that family member turns 18 during the period of the student’s study.
If a student’s dependent child will turn 18 before the student completes their course, unless specified by a sponsoring government, the dependent child’s visa should be granted:
- if the dependent child’s birthday falls between 1 January and 30 June — until 31 July in the year the dependant turns 18
- if the dependent child’s birthday falls between 1 July and 31 December — until 31 December in the year the dependant turns 18.
This allows the dependent child to complete their current semester of study if enrolled. This will also avoid a situation of a dependent child who is about to complete their course of study needing to apply for a further student visa as a primary applicant for only a very short period.
If the student’s visa ceases before their dependent child turns 18, the dependent child’s visa should be granted with the same cease date as the student. If the dependent child requires a further visa beyond this period to complete their course, they should apply for their own student visa in accordance with the sector of education specified for their course.
To help manage increased welfare and immigration risks associated with the younger and more vulnerable students, a reduced visa grant period covering two years of school studies will apply to primary school students. If a student enrols mid-year, the visa grant period may be extended for a period to cover two and a half years, to align with the end of the Australian school year, 31 December.
In very limited cases, an officer can use their discretion to extend the visa grant period beyond two years. These circumstances are limited to cases where there are no integrity concerns and it is reasonable to do so — for example, a 7 year old has applied for a student visa to study Years 1 to 4 (four years) because a parent has been deployed with the army (for the four years) to a country that is not suitable for the student to attend school.
The two-year visa grant period does not apply to high school students. A visa can be granted to a student seeking to study five years in primary and secondary provided the primary component does not exceed two years. Therefore, a visa grant period of five years would be permitted to enable a student to progress from year 5 in primary school to year 9.