Australia moves to end ‘visa hopping’

The Australian government is introducing new restrictions to end ‘visa hopping.’ In a recent media release, Minister for Home Affairs Hon Claire O’Neil announced the closure of two temporary visa pathways. As of 1 July, Visitor Visa and Temporary Graduate Visa holders cannot apply for Student Visas onshore. That is, they can’t change visas from within Australia.


Changes to visa pathways

Starting July 2024, Visitor Visa holders cannot apply for Student Visas while they’re in Australia. This measure addresses how the pathway has been used to undercut the government’s offshore student visa integrity measures.

At the same time, Temporary Graduate Visa holders shall also no longer be allowed to apply for Student Visas onshore. According to the Grattan Institute’s Graduates in Limbo report, 32% of Temporary Graduate Visa holders are returning to study when their visa expires to extend their stay in Australia. With this new restriction, the government makes it clear that graduates should be finding skilled jobs and becoming permanent residents. Otherwise, they must depart the country instead of becoming ‘permanently temporary’ residents.


A response to growing numbers

The new rules are part of the government’s ongoing Migration Strategy. They’re said to end loopholes that allow students and other temporary visa holders to continuously extend their stay in Australia. “Our Migration Strategy outlines a clear plan to close the loopholes in international education and this is the next step in delivering that plan,” said Minister O’Neil.

It was noted that the number of international students staying in the country on a second or subsequent Student Visa has grown by more than 30% (over 150,000) from 2022 to 2023. ‘The visitor-to-student pathway has become increasingly prevalent, with over 36,000 applications since 1 July 2023 to the end of May 2024,’ added the media release. It also cited renowned demographer Peter McDonald who said curtailing visa hopping can help manage population growth.


Continuous updates to immigration rules

The Australian government is expected to roll out more policy updates. These are rooted in a goal to ‘build a smaller, better-planned, more strategic migration system that works for Australia.’ Other actions that have already been taken. These include no further stay conditions on Visitor Visas, shorter post-study work rights and the Genuine Student requirement.

These steps are designed to continue to reduce net overseas migration, which the government hopes to halve by the next financial year.


To stay up-to-date with international student news in Australia, keep an eye out on our blog for the latest releases or contact our business development experts for support.

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