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Extension of streamlined visa processing arrangements

From 22 March 2014 streamlined visa processing arrangements, similar to those in place for universities have been available to prospective students of selected low immigration risk education providers who offer bachelor, masters or doctoral degree level courses.

On 26 May 2014 the government announced that it intends to further extend streamlined visa processing arrangements to low immigration risk education providers offering advanced diploma level courses. This will provide direct access to the streamlined visa processing arrangements for eligible education providers in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.

The department will write to eligible providers by the second half of 2014 inviting them to participate in the arrangements. Subject to the legislative change process we anticipate that the extended arrangements will commence by early 2015.

The extended streamlined visa processing arrangements will be similar to those currently in place for universities and non-university higher education providers. From the time these arrangements commence, it is intended that existing streamlined visa processing providers will also gain access to streamlined visa processing for their advanced diploma level course students, where applicable. The announcement can be viewed on the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection's website.

What is streamlined visa processing?

Streamlined visa processing is currently available for certain prospective students of participating education providers. Student visa applications that are lodged with a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) from a participating education provider in Australia for a bachelor, masters or doctoral degree or an eligible exchange programme are assessed as though they are a lower immigration risk, similar to the current Assessment Level 1, regardless of the applicant's country of origin.

By early 2015 it is proposed that the courses eligible for streamlined visa processing will be extended to include advanced diploma level courses.

What is an education provider for the purpose of streamlined visa processing?

For the purposes of streamlined visa processing arrangements, an education provider must be actively registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).

Each CRICOS code is considered as a separate education provider for the purpose of determining an education provider's eligibility to participate in the extended streamlined visa processing arrangements.

How do I know if my education provider is participating in the extended streamlined visa processing arrangements?

You can read the legislative instrument listing the education providers currently participating in the streamlined visa processing extended arrangements.

After the proposed extension to streamlined visa processing arrangements comes into effect by early 2015, newly eligible education providers will be listed in a new legislative instrument.

How does the extension of streamlined visa processing arrangements work?

Under the extended arrangements, student visa applicants with a CoE from a participating education provider in Australia are assessed as though they are a lower immigration risk and are generally not required to provide the same amount of documentary evidence that is required for higher assessment levels, regardless of their country of origin, visa subclass or course of study.

Applicants still need to have a level of English language proficiency to enable them to complete their studies; be able to support themselves financially for the duration of their stay; and satisfy the genuine temporary entrant requirement.

All applicants are still subject to basic requirements such as having health insurance and meeting the health and character requirements. The department can still request documentary evidence to verify an applicant's claims.

Students on a Foreign Affairs or Defence Sector (subclass 576) visa are not included in the streamlined visa processing arrangements.

What are the benefits of the extended streamlined visa processing arrangements?

Under the extended streamlined visa processing arrangements, education providers and students can have greater confidence that visa applications would be processed faster.

The arrangements also make the visa application process easier for students as they are not required to provide the same amount of documentary evidence needed for higher assessment levels.

If I am eligible for the extended streamlined visa processing can I lodge my application online?

Streamlined visa processing does not change the online lodgement arrangements currently in place. That is, if you do not have access to online lodgement for student visa applications currently, you would not gain access to online lodgement under the streamlined visa processing arrangements.

What do I need from an education provider to be eligible for the streamlined visa processing?

To be eligible for streamlined visa processing, you need to provide a CoE from a participating education provider when you lodge your student visa application. This CoE must be for a bachelor, masters or doctoral degree or an eligible exchange programme.

After the proposed new arrangements commence by early 2015, a CoE from a participating provider for an advanced diploma level course would also make you eligible for streamlined visa processing.

Am I eligible for the streamlined visa processing if I only have a letter of offer from an education provider?

No. You must provide a CoE from a participating education provider when you lodge your application to be eligible for the streamlined visa processing.

Am I eligible for the streamlined visa processing if I am enrolled in a package of courses or an enabling course?

If you enrol in a package course, all your preliminary courses must be at your eligible provider participating in the streamlined visa processing arrangements or a nominated educational business partner of your participating education provider.

Students who combine a non-award student exchange or study abroad program course with any preliminary course(s) are not eligible for streamlined visa processing and are assessed according to the applicable assessment level.

Can I still apply for a student visa if I am not eligible for the streamlined visa processing?

Yes. If you are not eligible for the streamlined visa processing you can still apply for a student visa under the existing assessment level framework.

What if my preferred education provider is not part of the arrangements?

Students need to apply under the existing student visa application processes if their preferred education provider is not a participant in streamlined visa processing arrangements.

On 22 March 2014 the Assessment Level Framework was simplified by removing AL4 and AL5 and reducing the financial requirements for AL3 visa applicants. These changes benefit student visa applicants not subject to streamlined visa processing arrangements.

How do providers become part of streamlined visa processing arrangements?

Eligible providers offering advanced diploma level courses will be invited to opt-in to the streamlined visa processing arrangements by the second half of 2014. Once the invitation and assessment process has been finalised, the details of additional participating providers will be made publicly available.

How does the department determine which education providers are invited to participate in streamlined visa processing arrangements?

In order to be invited to participate in streamlined visa processing arrangements, education providers must be assessed and found to be of low immigration risk.

An education provider's immigration risk level is calculated by assessing data held in departmental systems relating to prospective and actual international students associated with that provider. This includes data about student visa refusals, including fraud, and compliance with visa conditions relating to student visa applicants intending to study at the provider's institution, as well as actual students who have visas linked to that institution.

In order for the department to have statistical confidence in the assessment of an education provider's immigration risk, an education provider must be recorded in the department's systems as having at least 100 students with active student visas during the relevant reporting period.

This method of determining immigration risk is consistent with the approach used for the university and non-university streamlined visa processing arrangements and the Assessment Level Framework settings.

Where do I go for more information?

Our website has the latest information about student visa updates and assessment levels.

Last reviewed Wednesday 27 August 2014