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Fact Sheet Stage Two Implementation of the Knight Review Changes to the Student Visa Program

Stage one of the Australian Governments response to the Strategic Review of the student visa program was implemented in late 2011. See: Stage two is to be implemented in 2012 and 2013. A number of key measures commenced on 24 and 26 March 2012 and these are detailed below.

Streamlined visa processing

From 24 March 2012, student visa applicants who lodge their applications with a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) from a participating university in Australia at Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degree level will be assessed as though they are a lower migration risk (similar to the current Assessment Level 1), regardless of their country of origin. This means that these applicants will generally have reduced evidentiary requirements when applying for a student visa. See:

More flexible work conditions

From 26 March 2012, student visa holders are able to take advantage of more flexible work conditions. The previous work condition of 20 hours per week during any week while the course is in session has changed to 40 hours per fortnight during any fortnight while the course is in session. This provides more flexibility for student visa holders and their employers. In addition, from 26 March 2012, Higher Degree by Research (HDR) student visa holders are no longer limited in the number of hours that they can work once their course has commenced. These changes apply to both new and existing student visa holders from 26 March 2012. See:

More flexible arrangements for English language study

On 24 March 2012, the maximum period of English language study for Schools Sector (subclass 571) visa holders subject to Assessment Level 3 and above increased to 50 weeks. This compares to the previous arrangements where Assessment Level 3 students were restricted to 40 weeks and Assessment Level 4 students to 30 weeks. In addition, from 24 March 2012, new Student Guardian (subclass 580) visa holders are able to undertake unlimited ELICOS study on a part-time basis (less than 20 hours per week) while in Australia as the holder of that visa. See:

Other changes which commenced on 24 March 2012

Removal of the requirement for Assessment Level 4 Schools Sector (subclass 571) visa applicants to provide evidence of an English language proficiency test to support their application for a student visa. See:
March 2012 1

A policy change to allow flexibility for departmental case officers to grant student visas more than four months before the start of the course. See:

Student visa integrity

Subject to the passage of legislation through Parliament in 2012, it is proposed that the automatic cancellation of student visas and the mandatory cancellation of student visas for unsatisfactory attendance, unsatisfactory progress and working in excess of the hours allowed be abolished. This change would allow the department to determine cancellation in particular cases on their merits providing a fairer outcome for international students. In addition, in 2012 it is proposed that the names of education agents who recruit international students be listed in the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science, Research and Tertiary Educations Provider Registration and International Students Management System (PRISMS) to allow for better education agent monitoring and to help enhance the integrity of the student visa program. See:

On 22 September 2011, the Australian Government announced its response to the Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011 conducted by the Hon Michael Knight AO. Mr Knight made 41 recommendations to enhance the quality, integrity and competitiveness of Australias international education sector and improve the integrity of the student visa program. The government supports all of Mr Knights recommendations with some modifications. A list of the 41 recommendations and their proposed implementation date, Mr Knights report and the governments response to the report is available on the departments website. See:

Further information
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) are available on the departments website. These FAQs will be updated with more information about the changes as they are progressively implemented. See: