Australia’s new Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF) marks Indian students as high risk – What it means

In an unusual turn of events, the Department of Home Affairs of Australia has downgraded the Assessment Level (AL) of India with reference to student recruitment in their universities. 

The Assessment Level is a minimum requirement of evidence from international students while applying for an Australian student visa. The evidence comprises English language proficiency and financial capacity documents among others, which are to be submitted at the time of applying for a visa. These requirements are placed to manage and minimize immigration risks from international students. The risk posed is categorized based on the applicant’s country, the visa subclass, and the course of study they are applying for. 

The countries are categorized into 3 Assessment Levels. The AL1 indicates the lowest immigration risk, while AL3 indicates the highest immigration risk. Countries with AL1 are required to submit lower evidentiary documents and countries with AL2/3 are required to submit higher evidentiary documents while applying for a visa. 

The Assessment Level of India is changed from AL2 to AL3. This means that Indian students applying for an Australian student visa are supposed to submit more proof of financial capacity and English language capability. This change is applicable to all Indian students applying for an Australian student visa unless the applicant is applying to education providers (well-reputed universities) with Assessment Level 1. These changes were put into action since September 30, 2019, and will also be applicable to students who are already undergoing the visa process or awaiting a decision. 

Visa requirements for Indian students applying for an Australian student visa

Unlike earlier requirements, Indian students are now mandatorily required to submit proofs of financial capacity and English language capability documents (IELTS/TOEFL/PTE). Below are the required set of documents you will need to submit at the time of applying for an Australian student visa. 

  • Applicant’s passport (all 36 pages)
  • Offer letter or Confirmation of Enrollment (CoE) from the accepted university. 
  • OSHC (Overseas Student Health Cover)
  • Proof of financial capacity (evidence of bank balance for the student to utilize and survive during the course of study in Australia)
  • Proof of English Language capability (at least 5.5 IELTS score or compatible TOEFL/PTE score)
  • Statement of Purpose (SoP)
  • Details of employment history
  • Form 956A (appointment or withdrawal of an authorized recipient to receive visa documents)
  • Academic transcripts

Why was India downgraded to AL3?

India’s Assessment Level was changed from 3 to 2 in 2017. This was changed back to 3 recently by the Department of Home Affairs of Australia. While It is not the first time for India to be in AL3, these requirements often change based on the immigration risk posed by the applicant. 

The immigration risk indicators are based on many parameters such as the rate of visa cancellations or visa rejections, the rate of student visa holders becoming unlawful non-citizens or applying for a protection visa, academic performance, and disciplinary conduct. 

Although migration experts believe that this change is common and happens from time to time, the change was made in response to industry concerns regarding non-genuine students with poor language skills and inability to fund studies and survival while in Australia. 

Off late, the quality of International (Indian) students who chose to study in Australia has decreased, with 1 in 10 visa applicants being rejected. That being said, the majority of visa rejections are happening to applicants from North India. On the other hand, the students with successful visa approval were either unable to financially manage themselves during their time studying in Australia or performed poorly in academics. 

Many students struggle to complete the course, which in turn stains Australia’s reputation of providing world-class and top-quality education. On the financial front, students who got admission into a university and struggled to pay the tuition fee have started converting from university to college. This is resulting in vacancies in university seats. When this becomes a common pattern, such steps are taken to ensure the quality of international students studying in an Australian university. 

How will this impact Indian students and what are the options?

While this change will see a drop in the number of international student applicants which was over 72,000 in March 2019, it will be harder for Indian students to acquire university admissions and visas from Australia. Even though this might not be an issue for genuine students who have respectable English language skills and is financially sound, they might still have to face issues like – 

  • Longer timeline for the visa process and issuance
  • Lesser approval rate of visa
  • Lesser number of grants and admissions
  • Stricter verification of documents and SoPs

While it might get a little harder for Indian students to secure admission and visa for some time, genuine students who are looking to excel academically and study from one of the top study abroad destinations will not face much of an issue. As the quality of Indian students going to Australia improves, the Assessment Level will change back to number 2 like it did in 2017. Meanwhile, Indian students can opt for other top study abroad destinations which are more welcoming like Canada, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. These countries are known to have welcoming visa regulations and longer post-study work durations, making them the most sought after destinations now. 

While the above content is for informational purpose and should not be taken as professional advice, you can always contact our Student Support Team for advice and help to fulfill your study abroad dream. 

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