new student visa

New Student Visa Subclass 500


A Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF) came into effect as of 1 July 2016. But what is it, and how does it affect you?
The changes involve a reduction in the number of student visa subclasses from eight to two.
One of these is a student visa, and the other a student guardian visa.
There is also a simplified, single immigration risk framework for all international students.
Some general key changes include:

  • International students applying for a single student visa regardless of their chosen course of study;
  • Student guardians applying for the new student guardian visa (student 590);
  • The SSVF applying to all international students; and
  • All students and student guardians generally being required to lodge their visa application online, through ImmiAccount.

More specifically, the changes also impact changing courses, school sector requirements and family members.


One new condition involves requiring all student visa holders to maintain enrolment at the same level, or a higher Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) level for which they were granted a visa. An exception to this is where the student is undertaking a doctoral degree and transfers to a master’s degree.

Transferring to a lower AQF level course, or transferring from an AQF level course to a non-AQF level Award course is a breach of the student visa conditions. This could result in the visa being cancelled.

In order to transfer to a lower AQF level course, or a non-AQF level Award course, students must apply for and be granted a new visa before changing courses.


Another change is that school students must be of an appropriate age for the entry level for their school course, regardless of their country of citizenship.

For primary school students, visas will generally be granted for a maximum of two years.
For all other students, visas will generally be granted for a maximum of five years.


The new changes also mean that family members of existing students need to apply for a student visa if they wish to join the student in Australia, if they don’t already hold one.

The duration of the course the student is studying doesn’t affect a family member’s ability to be awarded a visa.


There’s also now a Student Document Checklist Tool on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) website.

This allows students to check their financial and English language evidentiary requirements pre-visa application.


David Wilden is the First Assistant Secretary of the Immigration and Citizenship Policy at the DIBP and he claims the changes are important.

“A visa framework that is simpler to navigate and that provides a more targeted approach to immigration integrity will reduce red tape and improve productivity and international competitiveness,” he said.

“Under the SSVF, students will no longer be subject to the complexity of the current process.

“Instead, students will apply online for a single student visa subclass and be assessed under a single immigration risk framework.”

Mr Wilden says these online applications are consistent with the DIBP’s policy to increase digital services and simplify the application process.

“The recently released National Strategy for International Education acknowledges the Department’s role in supporting international mobility through administration of the student visa program,” Mr Wilden said.

If you need help with your student visa application, or would like more information about the new changes and how they affect the process, please get in touch. We’re always happy to help.

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PocketLegal is available to assist with all aspects of the Australian immigration process from beginning to end. If you need help with visa applications, sponsoring staff members, AAT Appeals, Federal Circuit Court hearings, or any other migration related issue then contact our friendly team via the form on this page or by calling 1300 921 114.

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