I’ve been asked numerous times about how I got here in Australia. It’s been a bit tedious to respond separately so I’ll write a rough round-up of the process.
There are multiple ways to enter OZ but I’ll be focusing on the student visa application. For information about other types of visa you can apply for, click here.
When I applied for the student visa in 2014, it has seven visa subclasses, but as of 2016, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) simplified it into one visa subclass, subclass 500. I’ll try to be as up-to-date as possible as the Department makes changes on visa requirements every July.
- Ask yourself if this is what you really want. Studying away from home isn’t a walk in the park. You’ll be exposed to many new experiences: culture, education system, weather (depends on which state you’re staying), friends, expenses, workplace environment, to name a few; and it will drop on you, all at once.
- Decide what course you’re going to study. (Preferably a 2-year course, if you want an 18-month or 2-year extension after graduation) Then choose which school you’re going to study at.
- You may want to apply through an agency which will be easier but may incur additional fees.
- Check your course fees and requirements. Check the English language test score your course requires. Medical courses require higher English scores. In addition, most schools require fees paid upfront every semester for international students.
- Schedule your English exam. There are five different English exams accepted by DIBP but the popular ones are IELTS and PTE. I find PTE easier and more convenient as results are out within five days. Unfortunately, PTE is only offered in Manila. Exams are always full, so book in advance.
- Gather requirements. While preparing for your exam, start gathering requirements like visa forms, transcript of records, diploma, birth certificate, passport(check expiry), NBI clearance, employment history and evidence, marriage certificate(if applicable), driver license(if you intend to drive here), and financial requirements. Photocopy all documents and have them signed as certified copies. A document checklist can be found at DIBP’s website.
- Apply at your school of choice. After getting your desired English score, you can now contact your school, send in required documents and they’ll send you an Unconditional Letter of Offer, which will outline the payment process. Check with your school if they have included medical insurance in your fees. If they haven’t, you are required to get an Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). After paying, your school will send you a Certificate of Enrolment (CoE).
- Note that you can’t apply for a student visa if you don’t have a CoE.
- Apply for student visa. Most, if not all, visa applications in Australia are lodged online. Your agency will do this for you but if you’re doing it on your own, create an ImmiAccount and follow the steps. Payment will be done through here as well. After paying, the account will list all documents that you need to attach to your application. It’s easy peasy. I’ve used ImmiAccount for two visa applications already. No fuss!
- Wait for DIBP acknowledgment. DIBP will send you an acknowledgment letter for the receipt of your application. They may request additional documents which you can just attach through your ImmiAccount.
- Health examination. If no further documents are requested, DIBP will ask you to undergo a health examination. You must create a HAP ID and print your referral letter found at ImmiAccount: My Health Declarations. The results will be sent directly to DIBP by your chosen health provider.
- Visa grant. Or refusal. Usually, grants are sent two weeks after your health examination. So congratulations! Or not.
- Other things to consider:
- Accommodation arrangements. If you have relatives here who offer you FREE accommodation, then you’re lucky! Living expenses in Australia is expensive. Rentals are paid WEEKLY and may range between $150-250, depending on location and may or may not include utility bills.
- Other expenses. Food allowance, course requirements such as books and uniforms, transportation fare, one-way plane ticket.
- Work restrictions. Students are only allowed to work 40 hours a fortnight.
- Work application. Let go of your pride and don’t be picky.
- Welcome to Australia! The first few months may be difficult but if you persevere and don’t give up, you’ll get through it!
This is not a thorough list of the application process therefore you may need to do additional research online. Let me know if I overlooked some steps. Thanks!
For exact visa fees, financial requirements (show money, statutory declarations) and other requirements not mentioned, please refer to DIBP’s website.
For nurses, I think you can choose a different pathway like a bridging program. I’m not entirely sure but you can ask fellow nurses that are already here in Australia.