Home Sydney Australia Doubles Foreign Student Visa Fee to Address Migration Issues

Australia Doubles Foreign Student Visa Fee to Address Migration Issues

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Australia announced on Monday that it has more than doubled the visa fee for international students, a move aimed at curbing record migration that has strained the country’s housing market. Effective July 1, the international student visa fee has increased to A$1,600 ($1,068) from A$710. Additionally, visitor visa holders and students with temporary graduate visas are now prohibited from applying for a student visa while onshore.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil stated, “The changes coming into force today will help restore integrity to our international education system, and create a migration system which is fairer, smaller, and better able to deliver for Australia.”

Official data from March revealed that net immigration surged 60% to a record 548,800 people in the year ending September 30, 2023. The increased fees make student visa applications for Australia significantly more expensive compared to the U.S. and Canada, where they cost approximately $185 and C$150 ($110) respectively.

The government is also addressing loopholes in visa regulations that allowed foreign students to repeatedly extend their stay in Australia. The number of students on a second or subsequent student visa rose by over 30% to more than 150,000 in 2022-23.

This latest measure follows several actions since late last year to tighten student visa rules, as the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in 2022 led to record levels of annual migration. English language requirements were strengthened in March, and the amount of savings international students need to obtain a visa was raised to A$29,710 ($19,823) from A$24,505 in May, marking the second increase in about seven months.

Universities Australia CEO Luke Sheehy warned that the continued policy pressure on the sector could jeopardize the country’s competitive position. “This is not good for our economy or our universities, both of which rely heavily on international student fees,” Sheehy commented in an emailed response.

International education is one of Australia’s largest export industries, contributing A$36.4 billion to the economy in the 2022-2023 financial year.