AUSTRALIAN STUDENT VISA - FAQS
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Till a few years back Australia was hardly in the reckoning as a destination for further education. But for the last few years the dark horse has suddenly become one of the top few education providers to Indian students. Australia the land of kangaroo or the land of Shane Warne depends on your perspective. But if you are planning to go there for further education then lets take a quick peek into their visa procedure and ensure you do it all right.
What is a gazetted and a non-gazetted country? Australian Government, for visa purposes, has classified various countries into two categories: gazetted and non-gazetted. Gazetted countries are those whose citizens have a lower risk of overstaying in Australia after the expiry of their visa. Whereas the citizens of non-gazetted countries are more likely not to conform or comply with the limitations set by the Department of Immigration - more like a guest overstaying their welcome. No prizes for guessing that India is a non-gazetted country!
Since India is a non-gazetted country what are its implications for Indian students wanting to study in Australia? One of the main implications of India being a non-gazetted country is that Indian students have to apply for Preliminary Visa Assessment (PVA) before being granted the student visa. Australian universities require international students to pay their tuition fee before applying for student visa. Since in countries like India there is a chance that the student visa may be refused thus the Australian Government to protect the rights of international students from non-gazetted countries has established this system of PVA. Thus the second implication is that students from non-gazetted countries have to pay the tuition fee after the PVA is approved.
Yeh PVA PVA kya hai? The first step, in India, for getting the Australian student visa is to get the PVA. For this you have to submit all your documents and the non-refundable visa fee to the Visa Office in Delhi. After the officials comb through your documents for finer details they will advise you to go ahead with your visa application. The good news is that once you meet the PVA requirements then you can breathe easy for your visa is as good as approved (cross your fingers and knock on wood). After the PVA stage you are required to undergo medical exams and pay the tuition fee to the Australian educational institution. After receiving the tuition fee the University will send you a Confirmation of Enrollment (COE). The COE along with your medical reports will then have to be submitted to the visa office for your passport to be stamped with the student visa.
Can I submit the student visa or PVA application In Bombay? No, even though you can collect the student visa application form (Form 157 W) from Australian Education International in Mumbai, you have to submit it to the Australian High Commission in Delhi (addresses are given below). Collect the form 157 W free of charge from: The Australian Education International, Australian Consulate - General Office, 16th Floor, Maker Tower - E, Cuffe Parade, Colaba, Mumbai. You can also collect this form free of charge from some agents in Mumbai without being under any obligation to utilize their services. Submit the form along with the fees and all the documentation to: The Australian High Commission, Visa Office, 1/50 G Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi - 110021.
The university has given me a deadline by which I have to pay the tuition fee. Should I pay the tuition fee of the University before I am granted the PVA? Sometimes the university might send you a routine letter asking you to pay for the tuition fee before they send you the Confirmation Of Enrollment (COE) or even give you a deadline by which you have to pay the tuition fee. If that happens you need to inform the university that you belong to a non-gazetted country therefore you need to first get the PVA done and if the result is satisfactory then and only then you will be in a position to pay the tuition fee. Under no circumstance should you pay the tuition fee for an educational institution before getting the PVA approval.
How do I prove that I have the necessary funds for supporting my studies in Australia? A statement about your parents financial resources is essential when you are applying for the visa. Any Chartered Accountant can be requested to make a statement about their finances. In terms of submitting financial documents it is important to remember that the visa authorities will be looking for sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses for the duration of your stay.
How will I get the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) permit to convert Indian Rupees to Australian dollars? You can apply to any bank dealing in foreign exchange for a RBI permit. Since the early 90s the Reserve Bank of India puts no restriction on using Indian Rupees for studying abroad either for undergraduate or postgraduate studies. You can access upto thirty thousand dollars (US) in foreign exchange for every year that you need to study abroad. And lo and behold if the cost is more than 30K USD a year then the rest is released under a special permit. Most banks will be able to issue this Foreign Exchange Release certificate within a few days of your application.
Can I go to Australia on a visitor visa and then convert that visa to student visa? The answer is no. Considering that the student visa procedure is fairly straightforward it is not advisable to go to Australia as a visitor if your real purpose is to study. While you are in Australia you may not get permission to convert your visitor visa to a student visa.
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