Australia Tightens Student Visa Rules to End "Visa Hopping"

The new rule is intended to ensure that the migration system delivers the necessary skills without exploiting loopholes.

Australia Tightens Student Visa Rules to End "Visa Hopping"

The Australian government has announced a new policy to end the practice of converting visitor visas to student visas while onshore, effective July 1. This change aims to address the issue of "visa hopping" and close loopholes in the migration system.

From July 1, individuals on visitor visas will no longer be able to transition to student visas without leaving the country. This policy shift follows a significant number of applications for such transitions—over 36,000 between July 2023 and May 2024.

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Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil stated that the change is part of a broader strategy to manage population growth more effectively, as advised by Australian demographer Peter McDonald. The new rule is intended to ensure that the migration system delivers the necessary skills without exploiting loopholes.

“Our Migration Strategy outlines a clear plan to close the loopholes in international education, and this is the next step in delivering that plan,” said O’Neil. McDonald added that limiting visa applications from individuals already in Australia will better control the number of temporary residents seeking longer-term stays.

The policy change has received mixed reactions. English Australia, a representative body for English language colleges, expressed concerns that the new rule might discourage prospective students who travel to Australia on tourist visas to evaluate educational institutions before committing.

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This adjustment comes amid other significant changes in Australia’s higher education sector. Recent modifications to temporary graduate visas, effective from March 2024, include shorter post-study work rights, lower age limits for some visas, and increased language requirements.

The government believes these changes will reduce net overseas migration and help manage the international student population to align with Australia's economic and social goals.