Student Visa: Subclass 500

by IELTS — January 10th, 2020

Since the early 2000’s, the number of international students enrolled in Australian universities has been steadily increasing, proving Australia to be a popular destination and a great place to study. If you’re interested in moving to Australia to begin or further your studies, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about the student visa.

Student Visa Length & Duration

The student visa is a temporary visa and the length of stay is determined by the type, of course, you will be studying and the length of the course.

Length of Course Length of Stay
Longer than 10 months (finishing November – December) The visa end date will usually be the 15th of March the following year
Longer than 10 months (finishing January – October) The visa end date will usually be 2 months longer than the course end date
Shorter than 10 months The visa end date will usually be 1 month longer than the course end date

There may be special circumstances where these usual periods may be exempt:

Postgraduate Research Students

The length of stay or visa end date for Postgraduate research students is generally an additional 6 months on top of the usual visa end date. This is to allow postgraduate students to remain in Australia during the marking of their thesis.

Primary School Students

For primary school children enrolled in years 1-4, the maximum period for a student visa is 2 years. To continue their studies, these students must apply for another student visa.

Find out which universities accept IELTS in Australia

Student Visa Application Processing Time

Depending on the type of student visa you are applying for, processing times can vary. To ensure that your visa application is processed as quickly as possible, ensure that you fill in the application correctly and provide all the necessary documents.

The visa processing time information below is extracted from The Department of Home Affairs.

  • Foreign Affairs or Defence Sector
    • 75% of applications in 12 days
    • 90% of applications in 24 days
  • Postgraduate Research Sector
    • 75% of applications in 63 days
    • 90% of applications in 5 months
  • Non-Award Sector
    • 75% of applications in 4 days
    • 90% of applications in 13 days
  • Schools Sector
    • 75% of applications in 61 days
    • 90% of applications in 4 months
  • Independent ELICOS Sector
    • 75% of applications in 27 days
    • 90% of applications in 42 days
  • Vocational Education and Training Sector
    • 75% of applications in 45 days
    • 90% of applications in 73 days
  • Higher Education Sector
    • 75% of applications in 40 days
    • 90% of applications in 54 days

Student Visa Eligibility Requirements


The minimum age requirement is 6 years old. For secondary school eligibility, you must also be:

  • less than 17 years old when you begin Year 9
  • less than 18 years old when you begin Year 10
  • less than 19 years old when you begin Year 11
  • less than 20 years old when you begin Year 12

Course Enrolment for Tertiary Education

You must be enrolled in a full-time course of study or training and you must provide evidence of this through documentation accompanied with your application.

Welfare Arrangements

If you are under 18 years of age, you must have your welfare arrangements in place before you begin studying in Australia. Your student guardian can be a parent, legal custodian, or relative over 21 years of age. They must have a valid visa to stay with you in Australia for the duration of your student visa, or until you turn 18.

You will need to complete the Student Guardianship Arrangements form and attach it with your student visa application.

English Language Requirements

Depending on your country of residence, you might have to provide evidence of your English language proficiency. All applicants who hold a UK, USA, Canada, NZ or Republic of Ireland passport are exempt from this.

If you do need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency, you can find your nearest IELTS test centre here.

Read more about IELTS  Book your IELTS test

How to Apply for an Australian Student Visa

Before You Apply

If you reside outside of Australia, make sure to apply for your visa at least 6 weeks before the start date of your enrolled course.
If you are currently in Australia, give yourself extra time to apply for your next visa to avoid having your visa expire before your next visa has been granted.

Other Considerations:

  • You might need to conduct health examinations. Keep this in mind and complete your examinations before applying for your visa.
  • Your passport must be valid before you begin your student visa application.
  • If you need assistance with your immigration and visa application process, the team of migration experts at IDP Australia will be able to offer free help!

Free student visa services

Gather Your Documents

The best way to identify and keep track of what documents you need to provide is to use the Document Checklist Tool. At the very least, you must provide:

  • Your passport
  • Education information including course enrolment, acceptance forms, etc.
  • Overseas Student Health Cover

Apply for the Visa

To apply for a student visa, visit ImmiAccount to lodge your application, attach your documents, and pay the visa application charge.

Visa Application Outcome

The outcome of your student visa application will be sent in writing, regardless of whether you were successful or unsuccessful.

If you were successfully granted your student visa, you will be provided with your visa grant number, the date your visa expires, and your visa conditions.

If you were unsuccessful in being granted with your student visa, you will be informed of the reasons why your application was denied and whether you are able to review the decision made.

Please note that your application charge will not be refunded if you were unsuccessful, so ensure that you fill out your application form accurately and provide all necessary documents.

View our detailed guide on applying for a student visa


How much does it cost to get a student visa for Australia?

The visa cost starts from AUD$620 for the main applicant. However, there are situations in which applicants are exempt. There are also additional costs for student guardians if they are required.

Can I travel overseas on my student visa?

For the duration of your student visa in Australia, you can travel outside Australia and return as many times as you want.

Can I work while studying on my student visa?

Once you have started your course, you will be eligible to work up to 40 hours every fortnight.

What happens if my student visa expires before my graduation ceremony?

In the case that your student visa expires before your graduation ceremony, you may be eligible to apply for another visa, such as the visitor visa. You will need to provide a letter from your education institution with the date of your graduation.

What do I do if I want to change my course?

Before you submit any course transfers, you must inform the government about the changes and continue to adhere to the conditions of your student visa.

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