DIBP has issued an update describing the current processing environment for student visa applications, including guidelines that applicants should lodge their applications at least 6 weeks before course commencement and noting that all applications should be submitted complete with all supporting documents as refusals are possible for incomplete applications. The guidance noted that in the case of refusals for incomplete applications, there is no guarantee that DIBP will issue a RFI (request for information) letter to the student, and may refuse the visa without issuing a letter.

The update also noted DIBP’s latest guidance on Late Arrival letters:

“There is no obligation for the Department to request late arrival letters or new COEs for student visa applicants who have missed course commencement. If the Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) is valid, the visa may be granted. Education providers are encouraged to include information about the latest practical start date in the comments section of the Confirmation of Enrolment. If the student’s enrolment needs to be amended, providers should cancel or amend the CoE in PRISMS. Agents do not need to send a new CoE to the Department as we do check this in PRISMS.”

The update issued 18 May 2017 noted that from 1 January 2017 to March 2017 over 111,000 student visas were finalised, an increase of 18.9% over the same period in 2016. The update also noted the upcoming increase in student visa application charge to $560 for subclass 500 (student) and 590 (student guardian) visas, an increase to $1,500 for the subclass 485 temporary graduate visa, and an increase to $480 for the subclass 407 training visa.

In the area of medical exams, the update specified that student visa applicants can use the My Health Declarations area on their online Immi Account to complete their health exams before lodging their student visa applications. The My Health Declarations (MHD) area allows an applicant to answer medical questions and generate a HAP ID number that is required to book a medical exam, and can be completed prior to lodging a student visa application. While this is useful for student visa applications, the MHD area on the DIBP website notes that for applications that may take longer than 6 months to process such as partner visa application, it is not recommended the MHD application as health exams expire after 12 months.