Australia is implementing regulations to reduce “visa hopping” among international students from July 1

Australia is implementing regulations to reduce “visa hopping” among international students from July 1

The Australian government has introduced stricter rules to curb ‘visa hopping’ among international students, with the changes set to come into effect from July 1.

‘Visa hopping’ refers to the fact that temporary visa holders continually extend their stay by applying for other visa classes.

The move is part of Australia’s efforts to end this practice of international students extending their stay in the country by switching from one temporary visa to another.

The strategy highlighted that the number of international students remaining in Australia on a second or subsequent student visa increased by more than 30% to more than 150,000 by 2022-2023.

This initiative is part of Australia’s broader strategy to curb the practice of international students extending their stay by continually switching from one temporary visa to another and ensuring visas are only granted to genuine students , thereby supporting the country’s economic development.

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Under the newly implemented regulations, certain temporary visa categories, including those holding temporary graduate visas, visitors and maritime personnel, are now prohibited from applying for student visas while in Australia.

Visa classes affected by the change

The changes outlined in the government’s new migration strategy are intended to eliminate existing loopholes and address the problem of visa hopping, especially among former international students staying in Australia indefinitely on temporary visas .

The visas affected by this policy change include:

  • Temporary visa for graduates
  • Visitor visa
  • Electronic Travel Authority Visa
  • Visa for medical treatment
  • eVisitor visa
  • Transit visa
  • Diplomatic temporary visa
  • Temporary work visa (International Relations)
  • Domestic worker (temporary) visa

Holders of the Temporary Graduate Visa are now encouraged to leave Australia or seek skilled employment and explore other visa options that could lead to permanent residence.

Those on a visitor visa who wish to study in Australia must now apply for a student visa from abroad.

Additionally, as part of these regulatory changes, financial requirements for student visas were adjusted in May. The minimum required savings increased from AUD 24,505 ($16,146) to AUD 29,710 ($19,576).

What the minister said

The Secretary of State for Home Affairs and Cyber ​​Security, Clare O’Neil said:

“The migration system we inherited was completely broken and our goal is to build a smaller, better planned and more strategic migration system that works for Australia.

“Our migration strategy sets out a clear plan to close the loopholes in international education and this is the next step in implementing that plan.

“We need a migration system that delivers the skills we need, but that does not traffic in abuse, loopholes and exploitation.”

What this means

This requirement has prevented thousands of students from transferring from one student visa to another without credible academic progress.

These measures are part of a broader set of more than a dozen policies designed to improve the integrity of the international student system, including the end of unrestricted work rights and the previous administration’s COVID visa.

  • Firstly, visitor visa holders are no longer eligible to apply for student visas while in Australia.
  • This process, which received more than 36,000 applications from July 1, 2023 to the end of May 2024, is being increasingly used.
  • The move eliminates a route that has been exploited to circumvent the government’s robust measures on the integrity of offshore student visas.
  • Secondly, holders of temporary graduate visas will also be barred from applying for student visas on land.
  • According to the Grattan Institute’s recent ‘Graduates in Limbo’ report, 32% of temporary graduate visa holders are returning to study as their visas expire to extend their stay in Australia.
  • This change underlines the expectation that graduates should secure skilled employment and transition to permanent residency or leave the country, rather than becoming ‘permanently temporary’.
  • These changes align with additional changes set to come into effect on July 1 for temporary graduate visa holders, including significantly reduced post-study employment rights
  • It also includes a lowering of the age limit from 50 to 35 and increased English language requirements introduced in March.