FAQs: International Students can Return to Australia in 2022

Student arrival plans, latest travel and visa advice


From 15 December 2021, fully vaccinated international students no longer require a travel exemption to enter Australia.


You will still need to meet all Australian Government border requirements and any state or territory quarantine requirements.


Australia’s travel arrangements with vaccinated citizens of Japan and Republic of Korea have also resumed as of 15 December (meaning families from those countries are also allowed to travel to Australia).


Frequently asked visa questions (FAQs)


Vaccination verification can occur anywhere along the domestic/international traveller journey, as long as verification has been undertaken prior to the passenger exiting or arriving in Australia on their journey.


Unvaccinated student visa holders are required to obtain a travel exemption to enter Australia. The airline may still board unvaccinated passengers, though they will need to be carried in accordance with any passenger caps and subject to state and territory quarantine requirements. Please also note the special arrangements in place for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated 12-17 year olds.

From 1 November, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Australian children aged 12-17 years old entering Australia through New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory will be exempt from passenger caps and eligible for reduced quarantine requirements. Where a child is travelling with parent/guardians who are all fully vaccinated, the entire family will be able to travel outside of passenger caps. If the child is travelling with unvaccinated adult family members, then the entire family group will be subject to managed quarantine and passenger caps.

From 15 December, vaccinated parents that wish to accompany a student visa holder to Australia must either hold a student guardian visa, or if they are on a visitor visa must apply for an individual travel exemption.  Visitor visa holders are not currently listed as an eligible visa holder who are able to enter Australia from 15 December 2021 without a travel exemption.


Yes, but only if they are fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents or immediate family, or fully vaccinated green lane travellers from New Zealand or Singapore.

On 22 November, the Prime Minister announced that from 1 December 2021, eligible fully vaccinated Japanese and Republic of Korea citizens, including international students, will be able to enter Australia. Due to the emergence of the Omicron variant of concern, on 29 November 2021 the Australian Government announced the necessary and temporary decision to pause the reopening of Australia from 1 December 2021 until 15 December 2021.

From 15 December 2021, fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption. A list of eligible visa holders is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.

This is a constantly evolving situation so please keep checking this page for updates as they become available. International travellers are advised to visit www.Australia.gov.au/states to ensure they have the most recent information on border restrictions and quarantine requirements.


All arrivals to Australia will be subject to the Public Health Orders in effect in whichever jurisdiction they arrive, including any requirements for quarantine. There is no responsibility on airlines to verify at check-in that a passenger has made arrangements for a quarantine place (if one is required) on their arrival in Australia.


No. Airlines will need to verify the traveller’s vaccination status, noting that automation of vaccination status for travellers will start being possible via the Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) due to be implemented in December 2021.


Yes. The airline will still be required to ensure the passenger is ‘fully vaccinated’ to Australian requirements, either by checking the vaccination history in a copy of their vaccination certificate or by scanning their ICVC QR code. Airlines will also need to sight evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 3 days of the time of scheduled departure.


The Australia Travel Declaration (ATD) is being used for passengers to provide health information until the Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) goes live in mid-December 2021.


No. Airlines should encourage passengers to complete an ATD or manual travel declaration prior to uplift though, as passengers without one will be referred for review on arrival in Australia, which will add to their arrival processing time.


Airlines are required to contact the Australian Border Operations Centre to confirm the status of a traveller who receives a ‘do not board’ message during the screening process before boarding their flight.


This is a matter for the student to consult with their education provider in the relevant State or Territory. All arrivals to Australia will be subject to the Public Health Orders in effect in whichever jurisdiction they arrive, including any requirements for quarantine.

Unvaccinated student visa holders are required to obtain a travel exemption to enter Australia.


On 29 November 2021 the Australian Government announced the necessary and temporary decision to pause the reopening of Australia from 1 December 2021 until 15 December 2021.

State and Territory Governments are also tightening border and quarantine restrictions.

More information on jurisdictional quarantine requirements is at www.australia.gov.au/states.



Latest travel advice for international students entering Australia

From 15 December 2021, fully vaccinated international students no longer require a travel exemption.

In addition to following the advice below, please stay in contact with your education provider for information and updates. 

You will need to meet all Australian Government border requirements and any state or territory quarantine requirements. Quarantine and testing arrangements for states and territories are changing. Please visit www.australia.gov.au/states to ensure you have the most recent information.

International Student Arrival Plans apply in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT. These have been formally endorsed by the Australian Government.

If you are taking part in a state or territory International Student Arrivals Plan, you are still be able to travel to Australia under those arrangements. Please contact your education provider to confirm your travel arrangements.

If you are fully vaccinated, you are able to make your own separate arrangements to travel to Australia outside the International Student Arrivals Plan process.  

Choosing to study with Australia is an exciting step into a bright future. Before you can take this step, you need to finalise some important details. One of the most important things you’ll need is a student visa, specifically the Student visa (subclass 500).

But what do you need to lodge a successful application? What are the Australian student visa requirements and associated fees? What about COVID-19? If Australia’s borders are closed, what’s the point in applying for a visa?

Obtaining a student visa is an important step on your Study Australia journey. Even if you’re starting your studies online, obtaining a student visa before you start your course will help get you on track for on campus studies down the track and open up the potential for post-study work visa eligibility (Visa subclass 485).

To get a visa, you’ll need to have successfully applied to an Australian education provider either directly or through an Australian education agent. If you choose to apply directly to a provider, you’ll need to download an application form from the provider’s website.

If you’d like some help applying for a course, an Australian education agent can help. You’ll still need to supply your agents with all the relevant documents to be submitted with your form. These include:

1) Certificates that verify your previous study, including qualifications you already have.
2) Evidence of your English language proficiency.
3) Certificates or documents which verify previous study or work experience if you are seeking course credits. These must be translated into English.


How No Borders Law Group can help securing Student visas (subclass 500)

Since the introduction of the Student return plan, we have assisted numerous applicants to secure these visas.

No Borders Law Group has worked closely with students from all backgrounds.


Understanding the Student visa (subclass 500)

The Student visa (subclass 500) visa allows you to live, work and study in Australia for a maximum of five years in line with your course. On this visa, you are allowed to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during term time and unlimited hours during study breaks. Students undertaking a research postgraduate degree and students in critical industries, including tourism and hospitality, have additional work hours flexibility.

In Australia, student visa fees are AUD$620 per visa application* unless you are exempt. It’s also important to note that Australian student visa processing times vary from person to person. However, 75 per cent of applications are processed within 29 days and 90 per cent are processed within 42 days.

Now, let’s break down all the Australian student visa requirements you’ll need to meet to ensure your application gets approved.

*Prices are correct at May 2021, refer to the Department of Home Affairs website for current price information. 


Letter of Offer

If your application is successful, you will receive a Letter of Offer.

  • Read the Letter of Offer carefully before you accept it. It will include your course details, enrolment conditions, fees you will need to pay if you go ahead with the offer.
  • Make sure that you understand all your rights, including the refund arrangements; if you don’t start or finish your course, the agreement will be used to determine if you will receive a refund.
  • Do not accept the Letter of Offer if you are not happy with any of its terms.
  • Keep a copy of the Letter of Offer. You will need this copy so that you are aware of your rights and if you have to make a claim against the institution.


Visa requirements checklist

The headings listed in the below sections outline everything you need to apply for a visa and therefore enter Australia.


Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)

A Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) is a document that will be issued by your educational institution that verifies your enrolment in a specific course. The CoE will be sent to you after you have accepted your offer and paid your deposit.

You must include a copy of this document in your visa application so that the government has proof that you are registered in your declared course.


English proficiency

If you are not a native English speaker, you’ll need to supply a certificate from an English language test because Australian educational courses are taught in English. This certificate will prove to the Australian Government that you meet the minimum English proficiency levels needed to succeed in your given course. There are only certain tests you can take that will be accepted by the Australian Government, but all are easily accessible from around the world.

There are varying minimum requirements for each education level, and that institutions sometimes set these requirements higher for certain courses. 

See studying and training visas on the Australian Department of Home Affairs website for more information and check the institution’s website for any specific English language requirements.


Academic requirements

The academic requirements (including evidence of English language skills) you need will vary depending on the level of course you want to study. Education providers can have different entry requirements, so read the course information on their website carefully and contact them if you need any advice or assistance.  

Here is some general guidance on entry requirements for different levels of study: 

  • English language courses: see previous section above called ‘English proficiency’ for more details.
  • Schools: Entry requirements vary between schools depending on the state or territory. Academic performance and ability is considered during the application process. 
  • Vocational education and training (VET): in most cases there are no entrance exams for VET institutions. However, some courses may require you to have studied specific subjects or completed work experience. 
  • Higher education undergraduate courses: you will need to have an Australian Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (Year 12) or the overseas equivalent. Some undergraduate courses may also have specific prerequisite subjects. 
  • Higher education postgraduate course: you must have completed at least one degree at the undergraduate level. This institution may also consider your research ability or relevant work experience. 

Tip: To meet the academic requirements of an Australian high school qualification, consider taking a foundation course. Also known as bridging study, they are intensive courses that will help you meet entry requirements. They are usually one year long and are offered by most higher education institutions. 


Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement

Another Australian student visa requirement is the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) component. To meet this requirement, you must write a statement that addresses two criteria:

1) That you are genuinely coming to Australia to study and not for any other reason.
2) That you will only be residing in Australia temporarily (and not overstaying your visa).

In your statement, you can include details on your ties to home (such as your friends and family, or a job that you have to return to) as well as the value of the course to your future careers or academic goals. Doing so will prove both your intention to return home at the end of your visa and your true intention to study in Australia.


Proof of sufficient funds

To receive an Australian student visa, you must prove that you have enough money to support yourself throughout your stay. You have two options when it comes to this component of your application:

  • Prove that you have enough money to cover all your costs and expenses through your course, such as travel, course fees and rent. You can provide bank statements, evidence of grants or scholarships.
  • Supply proof of your parents’ or partner’s annual income, which must be AUD$62,222 in the year immediately before you apply. If you bring family members, the annual income must be at least AUD$72,592.

For more information on the minimum required funds, head to the Department of Home Affairs website.

* Prices are correct at 6 May 2021, refer to the Department of Home Affairs website for current price information.


Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

As an international student in Australia, you must have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the duration of your stay. If you don’t provide proof that you have bought this insurance, your student visa application will be denied.

OSHC will help: 

  • you pay for medical or hospital care while studying in Australia,
  • pay for most prescription medicines,
  • provide you with ambulance cover in emergencies.

While organising your health cover, also make sure you order an OSHC card for use at doctor appointments while you’re living in Australia. Read more at our insurance page.


Health requirement

The Australian Government requires all international students to be in good health before entering the country. As a result, you may need to undergo a health examination and provide a medical certificate confirming that you meet these health requirements.


Character requirement

There are also certain character requirements that you must meet if you want to study in Australia. In your application, you’ll have to answer some basic questions about your character and past conduct. In some cases, you may even need to provide a police background check.


COVID-19 and visas

Many Australian providers are offering bridging and online courses for international students to get a ‘foot in the door’ of their Australian education. To make sure your study outside Australia is counted towards your degree, you’ll still need to have a student visa. For more on this, check out Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) visa eligibility on the Australian Department of Home Affairs website.

Explore your visa options for studying in Australia via the Australian Department of Home Affairs’ website.

**Existing and new student visa holders who undertake online study outside Australia because of COVID-19 will be able to count this study towards their Australian Study Requirement if they have a visa while studying remotely. For more on this, visit https://www.studyaustralia.gov.au/english/resource-hub/student-visa-updates-july-2020/student-visa-program-july-2020



Pre-departure testing

You will need to take a COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test within 3 days of your scheduled departure to Australia. You will then need to show the evidence of a negative PCR test result for your first flight (if there are one or more connecting flights) unless an exemption applies. For details, see ‘COVID-19 vaccine information’.


Australia Travel Declaration

All travellers to Australia MUST complete an Australia Travel Declaration (ATD) at least 72 hours before departure.

The ATD contains a declaration about your vaccination status. You must present this declaration before boarding the aircraft. This is an enforceable requirement. If you fail to comply with Australia’s travel and entry requirements, financial penalties may apply (currently $6,660 AUD). If you do not make the declaration prior to boarding your flight, you may experience delays on arrival.

If you are unable to complete the ATD before departure, your airline may request that you complete a manual (paper) declaration prior to boarding. If so please retain the completed manual declaration and provide to a relevant authority on arrival in Australia.

Summary of requirements:

  • Students travelling to Australia should complete an Australia Travel Declaration (ATD) at least 72 hours before departure.
  • The ATD requests details that are considered to be critical health information. You must provide evidence that the critical information was completed before boarding the aircraft.
  • The ATD collects contact details in Australia, flight details, travel history, vaccination information, quarantine requirements and your health status.
  • When completing the ATD, you’ll need to:
    • provide your contact details, including a contact phone number in Australia,
    • make a legally binding declaration in relation to your vaccination status,
    • make a declaration regarding your last 14 days travel history,
    • make a declaration that you are aware of the quarantine and testing requirements that apply in the state or territory that you are arriving in, and the penalties for non-compliance.
  • The Australia Travel Declaration mobile app can be downloaded from the App Store (Apple) or Google Play store (Android). Alternatively, the ATD online form can also be completed. 

All travellers, including you our students, will continue to use the ATD until the Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) is released (likely in early 2022).


Exemptions for unvaccinated students

If you are not fully vaccinated, you will still need to obtain a travel exemption to enter Australia (from 15 December 2021).

You may be eligible to apply for a travel exemption for medical reasons or where COVID-19 PCR testing is not reasonably available. Visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs – international travellers to Australia | Australian Government Department of Health

A travel exemption may also be granted if you are already:

  • A student in your final three years of study of a medical university degree, where you have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice. The placement must commence within the next two months and provide medical services to the Australian public.
  • A student in the final two years of study of a dental, nursing or allied health profession university degree, where you have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice which commences within the next two months.
  • A higher degree research student enrolled in an Australian education institution (including Masters by research and PhD students) who provide:
    • evidence of a current research grant from a Commonwealth agency, such as the Australian Research Council or National Health and Medical Research Council; or evidence they are in receipt of Research Training Program funding administered by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment; or
    • evidence of support from a relevant government agency outlining why the research is considered essential and/or in Australia’s national interest and how their role is critical to the research.
  • For more on travel exemptions, including applying online, visit the Travel restrictions and exemptions page on the Department of Home Affairs website, including the Commissioner’s Guidelines.

Restrictions on travel to Australia will remain in place for unvaccinated students after 15 December 2021. However, you can still enrol with an Australian education provider, be granted a student visa offshore, and commence or continue their studies online if you are unable to obtain a travel exemption.

If you’re unvaccinated but are granted a travel exemption and wish to get vaccinated in Australia, you will have free access to COVID-19 vaccines in Australia. More information on COVID-19 vaccines is available at ‘COVID-19 Vaccine information’.


Latest advice on visas

The Australian Government is continuing to grant student visas and we advise the following:

  • If you are a new student, please first enrol at an education institution and then apply for a student visa.
  • If you are waiting on a visa approval, you may wish to consider continuing or commencing your studies online. Australian education providers offer a range of online learning and study load options – please refer to your education institution for further details.
  • If you have already commenced studying online and do not have a student visa, we encourage you to apply for a student visa now, so that when travel restrictions are eased you can travel to Australia to continue your studies here.
  • Please remember that if you do already hold a student visa, online study done outside of Australia due to COVID-19 can count towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa.
  • The length of stay, for those students who have the Temporary Graduate visa, is being extended from two (2) to three (3) years for Masters by Coursework graduates, matching the provisions for Masters by Research graduates. Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector graduates will also receive a two (2) year Temporary Graduate visa.
  • Current and former Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders who lost time in Australia due to COVID-19 international travel restrictions will be able to apply for a replacement Temporary Graduate visa from 1 July 2022. This includes people who were outside of Australia at any time between 1 February 2020 and 1 December 2021 while they held a Temporary Graduate visa.
  • If you are already located in Australia, health and well being support continues to remain available through education providers, government and community services.


Need help with getting Australian Visas?


Email: [email protected]

Tel:  +61 (07) 3876 4000

Consultation:  https://www.noborders-group.com/form/free-consultation


We will help you by exploring visa options and securing applications. We will assess the eligibility of the application for a partner visa, and provide you with detailed advice on your chances of success. If you would like to discuss your visa options and evaluate the pathway to permanent residency, please make an enquiry or book a consultation to get expert advice with one of our knowledgeable and experienced Migration Agents/Lawyers on 07 3876 4000 or email: [email protected]





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