Every day we see people who are in huge trouble in relation to their student visas. Most of these problems are created by dishonest agents or a lack of understanding that student visas are complex visas, with several conditions attached to them. This can be a very painful experience, especially for people migrating as a family with children.

Below are a few pointers of what MUST be considered and how such troubles can be avoided.

1. Families with children

Parents on a student visa are not eligible for any kind of financial support when sending children to day care. Full fees for daycare can range from $70 up to $200 a day.

Australian law states that children 6 years and older must attend school, meaning it is required to obtain the correct student visa for parents. We have seen a few ‘creative’ agents sending one parent on student visa and the other parent with children on a tourist visa. Great idea. However, the family must leave Australia every 3 months due to the conditions of the tourist visa, then in most situations after the second time of leaving they are not allowed to re-enter Australia and must return to their origin country, as they are identified as a non genuine tourist’s at this stage.

Then, when parents want to add family to a student visa, they find out it is not that easy. The parent must re-apply for a new student visa, with their family included, this means children of school age must be enrolled to school, bringing them back to square one.  Public schools can charge whatever price they like, usually no less than $15,000 per year, while government funded school cost $14,000 per year.

For example, imagine a case of a family with children of school age, after getting advice from a ‘creative’ agent to enter Australia on a cheap student visa for one parent for 12 months, meaning the visa is issued for 14 months. A one year enrolment can be as cheap as $6-7000 per year, whilst the family are on a tourist visa. From there, they may then try to confirm their status in Australia, meaning they would have to:

Pay for two school fees for children, combined $28,000+

Family health cover for 14 months for all 4 members which is now $4,932

Medical examination for 3 persons $3500 each ($10,500)

New student visa application $1210

So suddenly a family who thought they could stay for one year on a “creative” student/tourist visa arrangement is looking at spending $35,000+ to get their situation fixed.

2. Changing course once in Australia

Another ‘brilliant’ idea, which occurs mostly with students from countries from assessment level 3 is to enrol for a University course, often any course, without considering where that will get them them in future. Then, they arrive in Australia and try to change to a different course.

This normally happens for two reasons:

-The chosen university is too expensive and they run out of money and look for a cheaper option

-They realize the course they have chosen will give them nothing, is unsuitable and they won’t be able to find a job after completion as hoped

In the first scenario, most students will not receive a release letter, so nobody will be able to enrol them to another school. Occasional, the lucky ones who get a release letter will most probably have their visa cancelled, as Immigration is very particular about if and when student can change from 573 to a 572 visa, they would immediately inspect why they seek to change visas. Last year over 3,ooo visas were cancelled due to this type of scenario.

In the second scenario, Universities can refuse to give a release letter based on ‘a change of my mind’, as this is not a good enough reason for them. We have recently had 3 cases like this. Students come to Australia, start studying, then they realize it is not what they wanted, but this is what the overseas agent chose for them. Now, if they want to change, that agent is of no help to them and the University will not allow them to change, meaning another year and at least $20,000 wasted.

So our advice:

Make sure you have right advisers trained in visas and immigration

Choose wisely whom to trust, not just who tells you what you want to hear

Studying is an expensive option and must be planned carefully

Immigration is not stupid and those ‘brilliant’ ideas have been used by many others previously, so immigration knows what to look for

Consider all circumstances, what will happen further on past committing to enrolment