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Student Visa Changes Australia 2024

April 9, 2024
Myer Lipschitz

Net Migration and Housing Crises

The government in Australia is in a difficult position as far as migration is concerned. It has an embarrassing situation of net migration of 548 800 people at a time when we have a shortage of housing. It’s under pressure to cut net migration numbers but at the same time, it needs skilled migration to prop up the economy and to also satisfy the insatiable demand on the part of employers for skilled migrants. How do they plan to solve this Catch-22 situation? They seem to be starting to cut Australian student visa numbers. This week, they demonstrated some of the tools at their disposal to achieve this.

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International Students & Net Migration

The first thing to bear in mind is that the net migration figure consists of those people on visas that allow a stay of more than 12 months and include student visa holders as well as those on working holiday visas and many of these will return to their home countries. Most Australians tend to think of net migration as permanent residents arriving in Australia but that’s not the case.

The fact is though that all will require some form of accommodation at a time when many Australians are priced out of the cheaper rental market. It’s not a good look for a government when Australians are having to live in caravans and live with family members when you have a large net migration number.

There were almost a million enrolments by international student visa holders for the 2023 year which represented an increase of approximately 31% compared with the 2022 year.

International students will comprise a significant portion of the reduction in net migration, which reached a record of 510,000 last year and is being cut back hard – to just 375,000 this year and 250,000 by fiscal 2024-25 – as the government seeks to address the housing shortage and reduce the cost of living pressures that have been blamed on the massive influx of temporary migrants.

student visa changes australia

How Does the Government Reduce Student Numbers?

1. Higher English-language requirement.

These changes apply to all Student and Temporary Graduate visa applications lodged on or after 23 March 2024.

For Student visa applications, the minimum test score for the English proficiency requirement is set to increase from International English Language Testing System (IELTS) 5.5. to 6.0 (or equivalent)

For Temporary Graduate visas (the temporary graduate visa is a post-study work visa that allows you to work in Australia for a limited period of time). The minimum score required increases from IELTS 6.0 to 6.5 (or equivalent) with a minimum score of 5.5 for each component of the test (reading, writing, speaking and listening)

Passport holders from Hong Kong and British National Overseas (BNO) are not required to meet this increases minimum English language requirement. Their scores remain at IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent), with a minimum score of 5.0 for each component of the test (reading, writing, speaking and listening)

2. New genuine student visa test

The Government has replaced the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement for student visas with a Genuine Student (GS) requirement. This is effective for student visa applications lodged on and after 23 March 2024.

To be granted a student visa, all applicants must demonstrate they satisfy the genuine student criterion or the genuine student dependent criterion.

Many of the requirements are the same but the focus will be more on whether the student intends to study in Australia rather than their intentions beyond the completion of the course. Previously if a student had stated they wanted to explore permanent residence pathways, they would be declined as they weren’t considered to be a genuine temporary entrant. The GS requirement is intended to include students who, after studying in Australia, develop skills Australia needs and who then go on to apply for permanent residence.

international student visas changes 2024

Main Differences of the 2024 Approach to Australian Student Visas

  • Having ties to Australia such as family is not going to be a disadvantage or viewed as an incentive to stay.
  • Economic circumstances will still be considered, but the comparison of the median wage in Australia vs the median wage in your home country is not considered. Consideration is given to the level of income in their home or another country.
  • Less focus on amount of time spent in Australia and more about whether the study history has a logical course progression, engagement with the course, changing or deferring courses, and engagement with the course.
  • The level of course, education provider, previous studies, and the value of the course to the candidates future will also be considered.

The Department will consider an applicant’s overall personal circumstances when we assess whether they are a genuine student. The government is not going to punish applicants for wanting to start a new life in Australia, as long as they genuinely want to study first. However, there is still plenty of room to refuse applications on various grounds and one can only assume this will be a way to keep numbers at the governments desired levels.

I think it’s important to view these changes in context and see them for what they are i.e. reduction in international student visa numbers so that skilled migrants can still migrate to Australia without adding to housing pressures and cost of living pressures.

 Don’t mistake these changes as a sign that Australia is “closing its doors”. It’s tightening immigration policy for international students to make places available for skilled migration to Australia.



Myer Lipschitz

Myer Lipschitz was born in Johannesburg and is a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1985 he was conferred the degree Bachelor of Laws. Myer completed his Articles of Clerkship with Ivor Trackman, Attorneys and was admitted as an Attorney to the Supreme Court of South Africa in 1988. Myer immigrated to New Zealand in 1989 and was admitted to practice law in New Zealand as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand...

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