Article from University of Derby
With increasing concern about fraudulent student visa applications, ‘bogus’ colleges and ‘dodgy’ education agents, many countries are subjecting student visas to closer scrutiny.
In Australia last year, 28,000 students were refused a visa – that’s 8% of all student visa applications. In the UK, student visas have been identified as a major hole in border control and there is widespread anxiety amongst students as new rules are rushed through.
Meanwhile, the US has improved its turn-around time in processing student F-1 visas in a bid to increase its foreign student numbers, and compensate for funding cuts at home. Most US student visa applications from China, for example, are being approved – compared with just 10% five years ago.
So how do you ensure your visa application goes straight through? Watch out for these major pitfalls when it comes to your student visa.
The new visa rules in Australia and the UK have increased the amount of money you are required to show as proof you can pay your living expenses.
The basic rate of living costs in Australia were raised from A$12,000 to A$18,000 per year for students, A$6,300 per year for your partner and up to A$3,600 per year for your dependent children.
If you’re studying in the UK, you’ll also need to find an extra £600 a month in living expenses.
You’ll also need to be clear about where that money is. In the UK, you must prove you can afford your tuition fees 28 days before you apply, and keep all the required funds in a bank account in your own name for the first year of your study.
Australian immigration officers will check your previous financial and employment history and the source of income for your studies – is it a bank loan or cash assets? If you are relying on a bank loan, those funds must be deposited into a bank account before your apply. You’ll need unrestricted access to those funds and prove you can meet the loan repayments.
Over 200 colleges have recently closed in the UK, after a crackdown on ‘bogus’ colleges suspected of providing illegal immigrants with a loophole to residency. Make sure your UK college or institution is officially licensed by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). In Australia, check that it has a CRICOS provider code.
Australia has also introduced some changes to the assessment levels required for courses – so if you’re studying more than one course (such as English plus a bachelor degree) make sure you supply the correct paperwork (or ‘evidence’) for your course package.
If you’re studying a postgraduate degree in Australia, the requirements have actually been lowered – as research students are considered a lower risk!
In the UK, you’ll also need to have a biometric identity card and prove your exam results before you apply for a visa.
One of the biggest shake-ups in the UK visa system affects students wanting to study English. It’s no longer enough to have a ‘beginner’ level of English – you’ll need to reach a standard close to GSCE (high school exam) levels. In addition, if you’re studying a short English language course you can’t bring dependents with you.
The visa application process varies by country of origin – again, based on a history of risk and fraudulent visa applications.
For students entering Australia from India, Mauritius, Nepal, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Pakistan, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship now requires stricter interview processes to check the validity of your documents and financial capacity.
However, students from many other countries, including Turkey, Uruguay and Israel, have been moved to assessment level one, which means they can apply online for an Australian visa, using eVisa.
If you’re looking for a pathway to permanent residency, be careful. The Australian government is making big changes to priority migration disciplines to remove incentives to choose a course for residency.
To have the best change of migrating, make sure you work on your spoken and written English fluency. And choose a course that fits your interests over one with possible ‘bonus’ migration points.
The new list of specialised priority occupations includes engineering, construction, childcare, health and education managers – but these are of little use to students, as they require senior-level work experience. And it does not include cooking or hairdressing, which were priority occupations in the past.
Once you have your visa and are studying abroad, make sure you focus on doing your best. Reducing your course load is grounds for losing your visa in the US, and if you need to extend or change your visa in any country you will need to prove your ability to complete your course successfully.
If you move house while studying in the US, you have just 10 days to report you new address or you risk deportation! One more thing to add to your moving checklist…
In the UK, you must now apply for a new visa extension if you move to a new institution of study and you’re from outside the European Union. This new rule, introduced last October, has caused some frustration as the processing takes up to two months, delaying the return of passports and documentation.
Don’t be put off by these new rules and changes. If you are a genuine student and you’ve planned ahead to finance your studies and cost of living, then you should be one of the millions of global students who do receive their visa this year.
Just make sure you understand exactly what is required of you before you leave your home country, and once you arrive. And then you can focus on learning and achieving with your amazing international education.
For more information on student visas check out our student visa directory here.
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