On March 19, the Australian Government announced the travel ban that would most likely affect the mobility, study plans, and visa conditions for non-citizens. As part of our efforts, we have compiled some useful information from the Australian Government and universities in Victoria. If you are impacted by the travel restrictions or concerned about how it will affect your student visa, read on to find out how your visa may be affected by COVID-19 during this period.
Q: Now that I am studying remotely, will I breach my visa obligations?
A: We can assure you that the switch from face-to-face learning to online learning will not impact your compliance with your visa conditions.
Q: Will my visa be impacted due to travel obligations?
A: The Department of Home Affairs has provided advice regarding student-visa obligations for students who are continuing or re-enrolling their studies:
If you’re affected by the coronavirus travel restrictions and are unable to return to Australia in time to continue your studies, you may apply for a suspension for Semester 1 2020 due to compassionate/compelling circumstances.
If your suspension is approved, do note that your electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) will be cancelled as a way for the Department of Home Affairs to be notified about your suspension.
Remember to also check directly with the Department of Home Affairs on your visa status while you’re on a suspension.
Q: I have successfully received approval for my deferral or suspension. Should I apply for a new student visa or will I be re-granted one based on my updated enrolment date?
A: If you have received approval, you will be issued with a new eCoE for your re-commencement intake. Regarding the deferral of your studies, we recommend that you contact your respective universities.
Q: My student visa is expiring, and I need more time in Australia to complete my course. What should I do?
A: If your student visa is about to expire soon and your university has approved your continued enrolment, you’ll need to apply for an extension of your eCoE as well as a new student visa. Under the Australian migration law, you must apply for a new one as it is not possible to extend your student visa. Therefore, it is important that you’re aware of your visa’s expiry date and if required, extend your eCoE six weeks prior to your visa expiration to remain compliant. You would not need to provide any evidence of how COVID-19 has impacted you in your student visa application.
If you’re extending your visa, do remember to contact your health insurance provider to extend your Overseas Student Health Cover. You may find your insurance provider with the links below:
If you’re no longer studying but you need a trip back to Australia to settle some errands, you’ll need to apply for a visitor visa or other visa types.
Q: Are there any additional delays in processing student visa applications during this period?
A: So far, there are no major delays but the Department of Home Affairs has advised that they are expecting a longer processing time. Currently, it’s advised that it’ll take up to 4 months for the processing of student visas. But fret not! If you’re on a student visa application and you have any form of bridging visa in Australia, that’ll keep you lawful for as long as it takes for the Department of Home Affairs to process your student visa. Thus said, don't leave visa matters to the last minute!
Q: I’m currently in Australia and I was wondering if the working rights put in place for student visas have changed in light of the COVID-19 situation?
A: As of the moment, the general working rights for student visas have not changed. This means that even though you’re attending classes online, you are not able to work more than 40 hours per fortnight when your course of study is ‘in-session’. However, the Department of Home Affairs has temporarily increased the number of hours in certain fields of work. These new provisions for student visa holders include:
Students already enrolled in nursing
Work in aged care
Those employed by supermarkets
In such instances, employers should already be registering directly with the Department of Home Affairs to allow for longer working hours. If you are still concerned about this matter, we recommend checking with your employers to confirm your eligibility.
If you have any further questions relating to the status of your visa, you can also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Do also check the Department of Home Affairs website every now and then to make sure you're aware of any changes in the measures regarding border control. If you have specific questions regarding your visa, click here to view the contact details for the Department of Home Affairs. Definitely an uncertain and difficult time for all, we feel with you and want to do our best in supporting all Singaporeans studying in Victoria.
If you have any further questions, you can reach out to us on our Facebook or Instagram, and we’ll love to chat with you. Here are several groups that we recommend you to join for the latest updates regarding Covid-19:
Telegram channel: https://t.me/SGNchannel
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/629980491125896/?ref=share
Do take care of yourselves and stay in the pink of health fellow Singaporeans!
by JEANETTE LIAU • edited by KIMBERLY PANG
Hi everyone! I’m Jeanette Liau, a writer and editor at SOV with a passion for bringing words to life. Here, I take great interest in sharing my knowledge about Victoria in hopes of making Singaporeans feel more at home. I am currently undertaking a Masters of Marketing Communications at the University of Melbourne and I also have a degree in professional writing and publishing in Perth. On days when I’m not cooped up in my writer’s cubbyhole, I love conquering the keys of the piano and exploring the city!