The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship announced earlier this month that the amount of funds international students will need to demonstrate and have genuine access to in order to be granted a Student visa will increase under proposed new changes.
Legislation changes are being pursued to increase the basic rate of living costs under the Migration Regulations from the previous rate of $12 000 per year. Subject to approval by the Governor-General, it is proposed that these changes will come into effect from 1 January 2010.
Under the proposed new regulations, prospective Student visa applicants and their family members must have access to the following funds to meet the living costs requirements:
$18 000 per year for the main student
$6300 per year for the student’s partner
$3600 per year for the student’s first child
$2700 per year for every other child; and where required
The Visa applicant must also be able to demonstrate that the funds they are relying upon to meet the costs of studying in Australia will be genuinely available to them during their stay in Australia.
The governments rational for increasing the cost of living threshold is down to the fact that the living cost requirement of $12 000 per year was first introduced in 2001. While this amount was an immigration integrity measure and was not intended to be indicative of the real cost of living in Australia, concerns have been expressed that this figure did not adequately prepare students for the realities of moving to Australia to study. By increasing the living costs requirement students will be better prepared to live and study in Australia.
The support that is currently available in Australia to domestic students and estimates made by Australian Education International (AEI), suggest $18 000 per year more accurately reflects the real costs of living in Australia. However, international students are encouraged to undertake their own research into the cost of living in Australia, taking into consideration their own circumstances before making a decision on whether to study in Australia. Prospective students should refer to the AEI ‘Study in Australia’ website for more information on the cost of living in Australia.
What must students do to show that the funds are genuinely available?
Under the changes proposed for 1 January 2010, officers of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) assessing Student visa applications will have the discretion to consider a Student visa applicant’s circumstances to determine if the student genuinely holds the funds to which they claim to have access.
This includes checking:
– a prospective student’s previous financial and immigration history
– the employment history of the student or the person providing the student with financial support
– the source of the income used (for example, cash assets or a bank loan).
Where there is doubt about the student’s ability to access their claimed funds in Australia, the prospective student may be requested to provide further information in support of their application. For example, students relying upon a bank loan may need to show that these funds have been deposited into a bank account to which they have unrestricted access, and that they have the financial capacity to service the loan both before they depart for Australia and once they arrive.
Further information on the proposed changes will be made available on the department’s website