From 19 September 2020, a number of concessions will be available for certain visa holders impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 concessions are to help visa holders continue on their visa pathway if they have been disadvantaged by COVID-19 border closures, business restrictions or the economic downturn.
If you hold, or held, a temporary or provisional visa listed below during the COVID-19 concession period you may be eligible for a COVID-19 concession.
The COVID-19 concession period commences from 1 February 2020 and is an interim arrangement. Check back here or contact Aussie Immigration Services for updates about when the concession period will end.
1. Return of international students to Australia
The Australian Government supports the safe return of international students to Australia.
Small numbers of international students may soon be able to return to Australia under an approved International Student Arrival Plan.
2. Support for international students and graduates
Australia remains a high quality and welcoming destination for international students. The Government has announced a range of visa measures to support students.
The measures will be temporary and will continue for as long as needed. See Minister’s media release.
3. Student visa fee
The Department will waive the visa application fee to allow you to submit a further student visa application to complete your study. This will be available to students who held a student visa on or after 1 February 2020 and couldn’t complete their course in their original visa validity because of the impacts of COVID-19. This includes students who:
- deferred study as they were unable to enter Australia because of travel restrictions
- were forced to reduce to a part-time study load
- were unable to complete their work-based training or placements.
This measure is not intended for students who are applying for a new student visa because of ordinary reasons (including if you have failed a course or a unit of study, deferred for personal reasons or voluntarily reduced your study load.)
You must apply for a student visa to have your application for a fee waiver considered and attach a completed Form 1545 COVID-19 Impacted Student (PDF 228 KB) from your education provider with a valid Student visa application.
If applying for a fee waiver in Australia, a Bridging visa will not be issued automatically as the fee exemption must be checked first.
This waiver only applies to the visa application fee.
Refunds will not be available for students who have already applied for a Student visa. Only new applications will be eligible to have the application fee waived.
Form 1545 COVID-19
Education providers must be satisfied that a student, who held a student visa on or after 1 February 2020, could not complete their course in their original visa validity because of COVID-19.
Only questions 6 and 7 on the form need to be completed for students who have deferred their study.
Students can submit further evidence of their COVID-19 related impacts with the completed form.
4. Flexible timeframes for additional information – English tests, biometrics and health
The Department allow extra time for applicants to provide English language test results if they were unable to take a test because of COVID-19. Extra time will also be given for biometrics collection and health checks where COVID-19 disrupted access to services.
Where you have made an appointment for one or more of these services more than 28 days into the future, booking confirmation may be attached in ImmiAccount.
5. Student visa conditions
The Department is taking a flexible approach where COVID‑19 restrictions have prevented Student visa conditions being met. You will not be in breach of your Student visa conditions if you:
- have an approved course deferral
- are studying online.
You are temporarily allowed to work more than 40 hours per fortnight if you are employed in certain sectors.
For more information see Temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders.
6. When to notify the Department
You don’t need to tell the Department if you return home, or if your study situation changes. Your visa remains valid until you submit another visa application, or your visa expires. The status of your visa will not change if you return home or defer your studies.
Education providers can issue a new Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) and enrol students to study online. If you hold a valid student visa, your education provider will provide the Department with your new CoE.
If you have an open student visa application, you can attach your new CoE to your application through ImmiAccount.
7. Students with financial difficulties
International students who are studying and working in Australia may be able to access financial assistance when they are:
- required to self-isolate or are caring for someone with COVID-19 (Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment) or;
- adversely affected by a state public health order and are required to be in lockdown for more than seven days (COVID-19 Disaster Payment).
For more information on the financial support payments, including eligibility criteria, see Centrelink payments and services.