Student visas

Resources for providers about international student visas

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Provider role in tackling the student visa processing backlog

The Government is committed to tackling visa backlog issues and have taken various measures in that area. In addition to measures taken by Home Affairs to reduce the current visa backlog and bring down processing times, the sector has a key role to play in helping reduce processing times by reviewing and adjusting recruitment practices to the new realities.

Visa processing is slowed substantially by the receipt of incomplete applications. Providers and agents should work with students to ensure their applications are complete to give them the greatest chance of a positive visa outcome in a timely manner.

Applications including fraudulent documents related to study requirements, such as proof of English language proficiency or educational qualifications, should be rejected at point of recruitment/provider enrolment rather than through negative visa outcome. This will have a positive downstream effect of fewer visa refusals and will support faster visa processing overall.

Providers can help to reduce visa processing times by engaging with reputable agents and reviewing and tightening recruitment practices. Students should also ensure that they complete relevant health and biometrics requirements promptly.

Under the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018, as well as domestic regulatory frameworks, providers have obligations with respect to the recruitment of overseas students and agent relationships. By effectively implementing policies and processes to recruit genuine students, providers are supporting a return to normal visa processing.

Current visa processing delays correspond to a greater proportion of high-risk applications, particularly from India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Nepal was the most common country of origin for student visa applicants in April-June 2022, with nearly 17,000 applications.

While rapid growth in enrolments and visa applications signals a welcome recovery and expansion, it also signals an overall shift to higher-risk applications. There has also been an increase in incomplete applications and presentation of fraudulent documentation in these countries. This has contributed to both higher visa refusal rates and longer processing times, exacerbating the backlog.

Under the ESOS framework, providers have a duty to engage with their agents to ensure that study applications by students are carefully vetted for genuineness and completion before issuing a confirmation of enrolment. Providers must engage with reliable agents and recruit genuine students, especially in these rapidly expanding markets.

To assist with this, the Department of Education makes available to providers information on the performance of the agents they engage. This can be found in PRISMS, and more information can be found on the Education Agents page.