Changes to the Student visa program

FYI – Stage two implementation of the Knight Review changes to the Student visa program – March 2012


As you may be aware, the Australian Government announced on 22 September 2011 a suite of measures to enhance the competitiveness of Australia’s international education sector. These measures were in response to the Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011, conducted by the Hon Michael Knight AO (the Knight Review).

Stage one of the Government’s response to the Knight Review was implemented in late 2011. Stage two is to be implemented in 2012 and 2013 with some key measures commencing on 24 and 26 March 2012, including streamlined visa processing.

From 24 March 2012, in recognition of the universities’ good track record, student visa applicants enrolled in Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degrees at participating universities, regardless of their country of origin, will be treated as though they are lower risk, similar to the current Assessment Level 1.

Other key measures that will commence from 24 March include:
the current work restriction of 20 hours per week for all Student visa holders will change to 40 hours per fortnight (from 26 March 2012);
Postgraduate Research (subclass 574) visa holders will no longer be limited in the number of hours that they can work once their course has commenced (from 26 March 2012);
the maximum period of English language study for Schools Sector (subclass 571) visa holders subject to Assessment Level (AL) 3 and above will be increase to 50 weeks;
Student Guardian (subclass 580) visa holders will be able to undertake ELICOS study on a part-time basis (less than 20 hours per week) for the duration of their visa; and
the English language requirement for Schools Sector (subclass 571) visa applicants subject to Assessment Level (AL) 4, and the associated waiver for applicants from China, will be removed.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship released a media release on the changes yesterday, see:

For more information on the changes, please visit the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website at:

Yours sincerely

Paula Williams
Assistant Secretary
Education and Tourism Branch
Department of Immigration and Citizenship

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