Factsheet: Visa information for international students in NSW

This factsheet provides visa information for international students studying in NSW during COVID-19.

It includes information for international students whose studies have been interrupted because of the coronavirus pandemic, and explains what to do if your current visa has expired. It also contains eligibility information for temporary COVID-19 visas.

Checking your visa status

You can access your Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) portal to check your visa expiry date and conditions here or download the myVEVO app from the Apple or Google app stores.

Extending your student visa

If you are an international student in Australia and the end date of your studies has been affected by COVID-19, you might need to extend your student visa. If this is the case, you will need to:

  1. Apply to extend your Confirmation of Enrolment (or CoE) with your education provider. You should do this at least 1 month before your student visa expiry date. Your education provider will advise you in writing of the outcome of your application.
  2. If successful, apply to the Department of Home Affairs to extend your student visa.
  3. Extend your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) to cover the period of your new Student Visa. You will need to provide evidence of your extended OSHC cover to the Department of Home Affairs when applying for your new student visa.

If you have finished your studies

If you are an international student in Australia and you have finished your studies, but you are unable to return to your home country due to COVID-19, you must apply for another visa before your student visa expires. An example of a visa you may be able to apply for is a visitor visa; see: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/Visa-subsite/Pages/visit/600-visitor-landing.aspx

The Department of Home Affairs provide a secure online Visa Application service.

If you would like further information, or have questions, visit the Department of Home Affairs website, or call them on 13 18 81.

COVID-19 Visa

If you are not eligible for a visitor visa, you may be eligible for the Temporary Activity (Subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event stream (COVID-19 Pandemic Event) visa. In order to be eligible, you must:

  1. Have a current visa that expires in 28 days or less, or your last substantive temporary visa expired less than 28 days ago.
  2. Have evidence from your employer that you have ongoing work in a critical sector (including agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and child care) and that an Australian citizen or permanent resident cannot fill the position.
  3. Demonstrate in your application why you cannot meet the requirements for another visa. This could include a statement and evidence that you do not have access to sufficient funds to pay for another visa application charge (VAC). See: COVID-19 Pandemic event visa.

The Department of Home Affairs provide a secure online Visa Application service. Visa Application service.

If you would like further information, or have questions, visit the Department of Home Affairs website, or call them on 13 18 81.

If your visa has expired

If your visa has expired, you must apply for a Bridging Visa E (BVE) as soon as possible to ensure that you are not residing in Australia unlawfully. A BVE is a temporary short-term visa that is designed to keep you lawful, until you finalise your immigration issue, apply for a new visa or leave the country. There is no fee for a BVE application. 

In order to be eligible for a BVE, you need to: 

  1. have an expired visa 
  1. be doing one of the following: 
    a) making arrangements to leave Australia 
    b) applying for a substantive visa 
    c) applying for merits or judicial review or 
    d) seeking ministerial intervention 
  2.  be residing in Australia, and meet certain character requirements.

Many BVE's do not allow you to work whilst on the visa. If your BVE does not allow you to work, you may be able to apply for a BVE that allows you to work if you can show you are suffering from financial hardship.  

If you would like further information, there is a step by step guide on applying for a BVE on the Department of Homes affairs website.  

If you wish to make a BVE application, you can apply online or on paper via post or email. 

Where possible you should avoid becoming unlawful (by having no visa). Being unlawful may make it harder to enter other countries, or result in a ban on returning to Australia for three years after departure. 

Further help

This factsheet is not a substitute for legal advice.

For further assistance with your visa you may need to see a registered migration agent. You can contact Redfern Legal Centre’s International Student Legal Service NSW  for free legal help and referrals. 

For tips about other legal issues affecting international students you can also use RLC’s free legal information app, My Legal Mate. Eligible students in NSW can apply for free access to My Legal Mate here: https://bit.ly/rlcmlm

Published on 26 August 2020
Produced by Redfern Legal Centre

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