DIBP and international students on course swapping

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The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has launched a series of social media campaigns to educate the international student community on the risks of changing courses on streamlined student visas. According to the Australian Visa condition 8516, holders must continue to meet the primary and secondary criteria for the visa they were granted. This clause is what the Department seeks to clarify in its education campaign about the Australia student visa.

Streamlined student visas

To be eligible for streamlined processing, student visa applicants must have at the time of visa lodgment a Certificate of Enrolment from a participating education provider. Students must be enrolled either to a bachelor, masters or doctoral degree, or to a non-award university student exchange program or non-award study abroad program. The secondary criterion is that the education provider is participating in the SVP arrangement.

Once student visa applicants satisfy the above criteria, this means that they can be assessed outside the Assessment Level (AL) Framework—that is, they will be considered low-risk applicants and will have reduced evidentiary requirements.

DIBP initiative

The Department is aware of this scenario:

A student granted a streamlined student visa arrives to Australia and then decides, before completing the minimum study period with the education provider, to swap to a course of lower level or to enrol to a non-SVP-eligible provider.

Although the Department has identified a small number of international students swapping courses upon arrival to Australia, it wants to clarify to the international student community that such behaviour is likely to breach their visas and may lead to visa cancellation.

So, DIBP has brought the information campaign to social-media level. Assistant Minister Michaelia Cash said that the Department will raise awareness about the possible impact of course swapping using its migration blog and social media accounts. FAQs and sample scenarios are also to be posted in order to shed light on confusing visa conditions and help students make better decisions related to their situation.

Visa breach and intervention

Education providers are required to advise students who are at risk of breaching their visa conditions. Education providers may be obliged to report them to the Department. Students found to be in legitimate breach of their visas are then sent an advice letter from DIBP, and a period to respond will be provided. DIBP will then use a discretionary framework to decide whether or not to cancel the visa. Since 13 April 2013, automatic and mandatory student visa cancellations have been abolished, as per recommendations from the Knight Review.

Visa assistance

Breaching streamlined student visa conditions is easy to avoid if professional assistance is available. National Visas has expert agents who can provide advice to students regarding their visas being questioned, especially on how to respond via letter to DIBP during the 14-day investigatory period. With National Visas, students are always at the forefront on matters regarding their visas.

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National Visas offers Personalised Services to help you apply for a visa. National Visas has developed into a world leader in online immigration services. Our Migration Agents are registered to provide Australian immigration advice, as required by Australian law.

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