NEW DELHI: Australia has significantly increased the visa fee for international students, more than doubling the cost from A$710 to A$1,600. This new fee structure, effective from July 1, aims to manage record migration numbers that have exacerbated housing market pressures.
Furthermore, recent regulations prohibit visitor visa holders and students with temporary graduate visas from applying onshore for a student visa.
“The changes coming into force today will help restore integrity to our international education system, and create a migration system which is fairer, smaller and better able to deliver for Australia,” said home affairs minister Clare O’Neil in a statement.
Official data released in March indicated that net immigration surged by 60%, reaching a record-high of 548,800 people in the year leading up to September 30, 2023. This new fee places Australia significantly higher than its competitors, with the US charging approximately $185 and Canada around C$150 ($110) for student visas.
Gets difficult to extend stay
In addition to the fee hike, the government is closing existing loopholes that allow foreign students to extend their stay in Australia continuously. The number of students holding a second or subsequent student visa rose by over 30% to exceed 150,000 in the 2022-23 period.
This move adds to a series of policy changes since late last year aimed at tightening student visa rules. The removal of Covid-19 restrictions in 2022 has contributed to a substantial increase in annual migration.
In March, English language requirements for these visas were made more stringent. In May, the requisite amount of savings international students needed to secure a visa was increased to A$29,710 from A$24,505, marking the second hike in less than a year.
International education is a significant export industry for Australia, contributing A$36.4 billion to the economy during the 2022-2023 financial year. These policy changes may impact the sector’s strength going forward.