International Student Update January 2014

webster By Mark Webster
Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Whilst no new legislation has been announced, there have been some procedural changes which can affect international students studying in Australia or seeking to remain after their studies.

Swapping Courses - Warning for SVP Visa Holders

Immigration has issued a warning for students who have obtain a student visa through Streamlined Visa Processing (SVP). SVP allows students to obtain visas with less documentation than would otherwise be the case, because they are studying courses at accredited education providers.

Immigration is concerned that some students are swapping to lower cost education providers after arriving in Australia. Students are allowed to change providers within the same educational sector, but Immigration is warning that if a student swaps to a non-SVP accredited provider, then they may face cancellation of their student visa.

Immigration has created a webpage warning of the dangers of swapping to a non-SVP provider.

Skills Assessment Update

Many students seeking to apply for a further stay in Australia will need to obtain a skills assessment.

The skills assessment will need to be finalised prior to applying for permanent and provisional general skilled visas such as:
However, processing times can be far longer than expected with a result that in many cases, the skills assessment is not completed prior to the expiry of the student's visa.

Current indicative processing times for the most common skills assessing authorities are as follows:

AACA (Architects) 20 Weeks
Engineers Australia 16 Weeks
ANMAC (Registered Nurses) 15 weeks
ACS (IT Professionals) 12 weeks
VETASSESS (General Professionals) 8-10 weeks
AASW (Social Workers) 8-10 weeks
AITSL (Teachers) 10 weeks
AIMS (Medical Scientists) 4-6 weeks
ICAA (Accountants) 2 Weeks

If your visa is expiring shortly, you may be eligible for a Subclass 485 Graduate Temporary visa. Unlike a subclass 189, 190 or 489 visa, the skills assessment does not need to be finalised prior to lodgement of the application. It is sufficient that your skills assessment has been lodged prior to you making your application.

Visa Processing Update

We have seen excellent response times for General Skilled subclass 189 and 190 visa applications. Once the application is lodged, applications are often allocated to case officers within a month, and often granted within 2-3 months.

Processing of 485 Graduate Temporary visas has also speeded up. Whilst we were previously seeing processing times of 12 months or more, we are often receiving grants within 3 months for recently lodged applications.

The main exception to the above processing times is where a security clearance is required. A security clearance may be required if you have lived in a "high risk" country. If a security clearance is required, this can delay processing by 12 months or more. There is no clear policy guidance on what a "high risk" country is or when a security clearance is required. However, it is often required for Iranian and Pakistani nationals.


If you have studied in Australia, then you have already made a significant investment. You may be eligible for a further stay, or even permanent residence, on completion of your studies.

Immigration laws are complex and constantly changing, and in many cases students have only a limited amount of time to apply for a new visa after completion of their courses.

If you would like some expert assistance with your visa application, please contact us for a consultation.

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