Student visas: COVID-19 FAQs

Frequently asked questions about how coronavirus (COVID-19) may affect student visas.

New students commencing mid-year 2020

  • Has the acceptance process changed for international students?

    The acceptance process for international students to commence in mid-year 2020 has not changed. You will still need to follow the instructions on your offer letter and the Get Started at Melbourne website.

  • Do I need a student visa to commence my study online?

    Undergraduate and graduate coursework students

    No, whilst you are studying online and travel restrictions remain in place, you will not need a student visa.

    A student visa is required to enter Australia and to participate in an eligible course of study. Once the travel restrictions are lifted, or a date for the restrictions to be lifted is confirmed by the Australian Government, and you wish to travel to Melbourne to continue your studies you will then be able to apply for your student visa.

    Graduate researchers

    You will need the approval of your Faculty and a valid visa to commence your graduate research degree online unless you are enrolled in an international joint PhD and are commencing at the international partner’s institution.

  • Accepting your offer

    Whether you need a student visa to commence studies or not, you will still need a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) to commence your studies.

    Your CoE will be issued as part of the acceptance process. In order to complete your acceptance and receive your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) you will need to:

    • Pay your tuition fee deposit
    • Provide evidence of your Overseas Student Health Cover for the duration of your course
      • If you choose to use the University’s preferred OSHC provider, BUPA, once you arrive in Australia the University will be able to assist you with a refund for the period of cover prior to your arrival into Australia. If you choose another OHSC provider, you will need to make contact with that provider to seek this advice.

    Once the travel restrictions are lifted, or a date for the restrictions to be lifted is confirmed by the Australian Government, and you wish to travel to Melbourne to continue your studies you will then be able to apply for your student visa.

  • Once travel restrictions are lifted, how long will it take to get my student visa?

    We are seeking advice from the Australian Government on likely visa processing times in the lead up to the lifting of restrictions so that you are able to have your visa processed in time to start on campus studies, whether it be during the course of Semester 2, 2020 or for the commencement of 2021.

    Please refer to the Department of Home Affairs student visa page for all up to date information.

  • What information do I need to apply for my student visa?

    Once travel restrictions are eased, or a date for the restrictions to be lifted is confirmed by the Australian Government, and you wish to commence applying for your student visa, you will need to follow the steps from the Get Started at Melbourne website for applying for your student visa:

  • Am I eligible for a refund of OSHC for the period I was studying online offshore?

    If you choose to use the University’s preferred OSHC provider, BUPA, once you arrive in Australia you will be able to apply for a refund for the period of cover prior to your arrival into Australia.

    If you choose another OSHC provider, you will need to make contact with that provider to seek this advice.

  • Updating your start date and requesting a refund with BUPA OSHC

    Once you have booked your airline tickets to Australia you will need to email the BUPA team at bupaoshcpartnership@bupa.com.au with the following information:

    1. Student name
    2. Bupa membership number or student ID
    3. Airline ticket showing date of arrival
    4. Copy of student visa
    5. Bank account details for any refund due (the refund will then be calculated based on the end date of the student visa).

      Australian bank accounts
      Account name:
      BSB:
      Account number:

      International refunds
      Country:
      Bank name:
      Branch address:
      Account name:
      Account number:
      Beneficiary's address:
      Swift code:
      Branch identifier [IBAN or IFSC code]:

    You can make contact with BUPA either prior to arrival or once you have arrived for BUPA to process this change.  You will then receive an email confirmation of the change along with a new verification letter.

  • I am an under 18 international student. Do I need to apply for a CAAW (Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare) if I cannot commence my studies in Australia?

    If you are under the age of 18 and wish to commence your studies from your home country while there are travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19, you do not need to apply for a CAAW. This is a temporary arrangement. Once travel restrictions are lifted and you wish to enter Australia, you will need to have your accommodation and welfare arrangements approved for a CAAW to be issued.

  • Do I need to apply for a student visa if I am under 18 and commencing my studies in my home country?

    If you commence your studies in your home country during travel restrictions and you are under the age of 18, you do not need to apply for a student visa. This is a temporary arrangement. Once travel restrictions are lifted and you wish to enter Australia, you will need a student visa. To apply for a visa, you need your accommodation and welfare arrangements approved to be issued with a CAAW (Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare).

Current students

  • Can I extend my student visa if I haven’t finished my course?

    Under Australian migration law, it is not possible to extend a Student visa, however you can apply for a new visa if:

    • You cannot return to your home country and your visa is expiring
    • You need more time in Australia to complete your course.

    You will need to apply for a new visa before your Student visa expires.

  • What do I do if I’m finishing my course but want to stay in Australia?

    If you are Student visa holder completing your studies in Australia, you can apply for a Visitor visa (subclass 600). You will need to apply for this before your Student visa expires. For more information visit the visit the Department of Home Affair’s page on the Visitor visa.

  • What do I do if I can’t return to my home country but I can’t extend my student visa?

    If you are a Student visa holder who meets the following conditions, you can apply for a ‘COVID-19 pandemic event visa’. This visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia until your departure, however this visa does not include permission to work.

    COVID-19 pandemic event visa eligibility

    • You currently cannot return to your country
    • Your current student visa is expiring
    • You are ineligible for another Student or Visitor visa.

    For more information visit the Department of Home Affair’s page on the COVID-19 pandemic event visa.

  • Can I return overseas to study or take a leave of absence?

    International students who wish to return to their home country can continue their studies remotely. You will need to stay enrolled to maintain a current CoE. If you choose to return home to study, you must ensure you:

    • Can continue to actively participate in required learning activities and assessments, noting this may include classes scheduled in at AEST times which require virtual attendance.
    • Enrol in subjects that don’t have mandatory in-person requirements. A list of in-person Semester 2 2020 subjects will be available on the COVID-19 student updates page before the start of Semester 2, 2020.

    International students should also be aware of any possible restrictions or risks with returning to home countries, as well as the Australian Government’s travel advice and restrictions, which may prevent you from returning to campus. The University will continue to monitor this situation and how it might impact students’ ongoing enrolment. For any visa enquiries, you should contact the Department of Home Affairs.