Information for student visa holders

While studying at UWA, you need to be aware of the conditions attached to your student visa and what you need to do if you want to make changes to your studies. Variations to your enrolment or changes to the length of your stay in Australia may affect your visa. More information can be found within the National Code factsheets and the ESOS Act. It’s also important to be aware of the costs associated with living and studying in Australia, in addition to your tuition fees.

Student visa conditions

There are strict conditions attached to your student visa, so check your visa grant notification to check which conditions apply to you. For a full list of visa conditions, visit the Department of Home Affairs. If you don’t comply with the conditions attached to your visa, you may not be able to stay in Australia.

Some common visa conditions are:

  • Study load

    Students must enrol in a study pattern that ensures they will complete their program within the duration of their Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). This means that you must be enrolled full time (four units per semester, 48 points per year) to complete your program before your CoE expiry date.

  • Work restrictions

    8104: You can only work up to 40 hours in a fortnight when your course of study is in session. A fortnight means the period of 14 days starting on a Monday.

    8105: You must not work in Australia before your course of study commences.

  • Academic progress

    8202: You must remain enrolled in a registered course that is the same Australian Qualifications Framework level or higher for which you were granted a visa, and you must maintain satisfactory academic course progress for each study period.

  • OSHC

    8501: You must have and maintain adequate health insurance for the whole of your stay in Australia. If you need to extend your student visa, you will need to also extend your OSHC.

  • Online/distance learning

    No more than one-third of your course may be completed through online units/distance learning. In addition, in each semester at least one unit must be studied face-to-face. The only exception is if you are in your final semester of study and the last unit of your course is only available online.

Reduced study load or underloading

It is a requirement of your student visa that you are enrolled in such a way that ensures you will complete your course within the duration of your CoE. This means you need to enrol full-time every semester (four units, 24 points).

If you believe you have compelling grounds to reduce your study load/underload, you must seek approval from your Student Advising Office before dropping any units. There are very limited grounds on which an underload can be approved and evidence is needed to support your request.

Reducing your study load may lengthen the time it takes for you to finish your course, which may mean you need to apply for another CoE and visa, which may have associated costs and visa implications.

Remember: you need to seek approval for every semester in which you wish to underload.

Eligibility

Examples of what may be considered as grounds are:

  • Serious illness or injury that impacts on your ability to study
  • If UWA is unable to offer required units of study due to the structure of your course
  • If you are currently on an intervention strategy that includes a recommendation to reduce your study load

You cannot reduce your study load for reasons relating to finances or work commitments. Receiving advanced standing/credit for previous study is not a valid reason in itself for reducing your study load. The only time this is permitted is if it is your final semester of study.

Applications

To apply, submit a request in writing via askUWA to your Student Advising Office with the subject line ‘Application for reduced study load’ using your student email address. Attach all supporting documents so your request can be assessed. Requests without evidence of compassionate or compelling circumstances will not be approved.

Your Student Advising Office will respond to your request to let you know if it has been approved, if they want to meet with you or if they need further documents to enable them to assess your request. If you are not approved to reduce your study load, you will need to enrol full-time as normal.

Supporting documents

Reason for application Type of documents needed
Serious illness or injury Medical certificate or signed letter from an appropriate doctor on letterhead that provides details of the impact of your illness/injury on your capacity to study and the duration of the impact. Letter should specify the study load your doctor recommends. Letter should be less than two months old.
Mental health issue Letter issued signed by psychologist or other appropriate treating professional on letterhead that provides details of the impact of your mental health issue on your capacity to study and the duration of the impact. Letter should specify the study load your doctor recommends. Letter should be less than two months old.
Compelling circumstances that have resulted in you missing two weeks of study or more Any relevant documents such as doctor’s certificates, statutory declarations or police reports.
You have previously been identified as not meeting academic progression requirements and have already got an approved intervention strategy in place that requires you to underload No application required; supporting documents not necessary.
You are unable to enrol in a full-time load due to availability of units of study, and there are no other units you can take this semester that meet the requirements of your degree Supporting documents not necessary.
You are in your final semester of study and have less than four units left to complete your course requirements by the end of this semester No application required; supporting documents not necessary.

Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)

Your CoE is an official document issued to international students to enable you to apply for a student visa. You will have received your CoE from UWA when you accepted your offer.

Extending your course and CoE duration

In rare circumstances, if you are not able to complete your studies within the duration of your CoE, you can apply to extend your course and CoE.

Eligibility

UWA is only allowed to extend a student visa holder’s course and CoE if:

  • we have assessed that there are ‘compassionate or compelling’ circumstances (see below) and there is evidence to support this assessment
  • an intervention strategy has been implemented, or is in the process of being implemented, for the overseas student who is at risk of not meeting course progress requirements, or
  • an approved deferral or suspension of the overseas student’s enrolment has occurred

‘Compassionate or compelling’ circumstances are generally those beyond the control of the overseas student and which have an impact upon the overseas student’s course progress or wellbeing. These could include, but are not limited to:

  • serious illness or injury, where a medical certificate states that the overseas student was unable to attend classes
  • bereavement of close family members such as parents or grandparents (where possible a death certificate should be provided)
  • major political upheaval or natural disaster in the home country requiring emergency travel and this has impacted on the overseas student’s studies, or
  • a traumatic experience, which could include involvement in or witnessing of a serious accident, or witnessing or being the victim of a serious crime, and this has impacted on the overseas student (these cases should be supported by police or psychologists’ reports)
  • where the registered provider was unable to offer a prerequisite unit, or the overseas student has failed a prerequisite unit and therefore faces a shortage of relevant units for which they are eligible to enrol

If your course and CoE are extended, and your student visa will expire before you complete your course, you’ll need to apply for a new visa to complete your study via the Department of Home Affairs. Submit your new CoE as part of your visa application, and make sure you have also extended your OSHC.

Applications

Complete the Course and CoE Extension Application form and submit it to your Student Advising Office no more than eight weeks before your current CoE expiry date.

  1. Submit your completed application form to your Student Advising Office via askUWA. Attach a copy of your current visa notice from your ImmiAccount.
  2. You’ll receive confirmation when your application has been received and whether or not any further information is needed.
  3. If approved, you’ll receive a new offer letter from Admissions via your UWA student email address. The next release of results may impact your new offer, so you may not receive your offer until closer to the start of the next semester. As long as your visa is still valid, this is not a problem.
  4. To accept your new offer, sign and return the documents to Admissions. You’ll then receive a new CoE via your UWA student email address.
  5. If you also need a new visa, first extend your OSHC with the representative at Student Central and submit the Certificate of Insurance from your online Allianz account.
  6. Use your new CoE and OSHC extension details to apply for a visa extension online through your ImmiAccount by logging in or creating an account. For more information on ImmiAccounts, visit the Department of Home Affairs.
  7. If you’re applying overseas, carry your CoE in your hand luggage (with your passport) in the event that you are questioned by Immigration at an airport.

If you are only applying for a CoE extension but your student visa is still valid for the new duration of your studies, you don't need to give your new CoE to the Department of Home Affairs. You only need to provide it if you are also applying for a visa extension.

Note: A CoE extension cannot be processed if you have outstanding fees or other encumbrances on your student record.

For HDR students

If you need to extend your visa while you are studying, contact the Graduate Research School. If you require an extension of your visa after submitting your thesis for marking, contact the Thesis Examinations Office to obtain a letter. This should be submitted to the Department of Home Affairs along with a supporting letter from your main supervisor.

Early course completion

If you finish your course in an earlier teaching period than the one in which your CoE expires, your early course completion is reported to Immigration and your CoE cancelled, which may have implications on your visa. Contact the Department of Home Affairs if you have any questions.

My visa status has changed

If your student visa status has changed in any way, for example, you may now be on a bridging visa or receive permanent residency, let us know as soon as possible, so we can update your details and provide you with any new information you need. Email a copy of your visa grant notice to the Compliance team via askUWA. If your citizenship has also changed, send through a copy of your citizenship certificate or passport. A change in citizenship may mean you are entitled to pay tuition fees at the domestic fee rate, so let us know as soon as possible.

Advanced standing/Credit

If you apply for advanced standing/credit after your visa has been issued and this affects your course duration, UWA will cancel your current CoE and will re-issue you with a new CoE that covers the shorter duration of your studies. This is reported to Immigration, which may affect the duration of your visa. Contact the Department of Home Affairs if you have any questions.

In applying for and accepting any credit, you should be aware that the credit may:

  • reduce your course duration
  • reduce your total course fees
  • affect your eligibility for future visas

Applications

Submit your completed application for advanced standing to your Student Advising Office via askUWA. Once assessed, your Student Office will email you to let you know the outcome. If you’re offered advanced standing, you’ll need to confirm in writing your acceptance of it. If it affects your course duration, you’ll be issued with a new CoE. You do not need to provide this CoE to Immigration unless you are applying for a new student visa.

Extending your stay for graduation

If you want to stay in Australia to attend your graduation and your student visa will expire before the ceremony, contact the Department of Home Affairs about alternative visa options. When you apply for your alternative visa, we recommend you provide your Statement of Qualification (completion letter) as supporting evidence. Once your final results are released, you can order your Statement of Qualification via studentConnect.

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