International Students – Enrolling Students on Visas


Do Schools need to comply?

Yes, if you are enrolling students on visas.

Conditions of compliance:

Non-government schools are required to provide information about enrolled students to state and Commonwealth governments in census collections in a prescribed time each school year. When enrolling students who are not Australian citizens, non-government schools should always refer to the relevant definitions and eligibility criteria in legislation and census guidelines that apply to these students for the current year.

If you have to comply, what do you have to do?

When deciding whether to accept an enrolment application, schools should seek enough information about each student’s circumstances and visa subclass to determine if there are any limitations on studies and if the student will be eligible for government funding.

Apart from students who are the primary visa holder of a 500-subclass student visa for the school sector, who must be enrolled in a CRICOS registered school, schools can enrol any school-age student with a visa that permits study, including students who are dependents on their parent/s’ 500 study visa. Schools should be aware of the study limitations for students that are on a visitor visa.

If enrolling a student, schools must keep records of information used to determine the residency status or visa subclass of the parent and/or child at the time of enrolment. These might include documents verifying citizenship, a valid passport with the date of birth or a visa grant notice. Schools should be cognisant of their obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) in decisions regarding document retention and ensure that any documents that are retained are stored securely.

Schools can also register to use the Department of Home Affairs’ database Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO), and, if permission has been obtained, can view and print a record to the student’s or parent’s visa subclass and entitlements. School records may be required as evidence for validation of funding claims in a post-enumeration exercise and must be kept for seven years.

Commonwealth and state jurisdictions provide census guidelines for reporting of students who are eligible or not eligible to be included in an annual data collection, including those who are not Australian citizens. It is important that schools follow the relevant and most current census guidelines as reporting requirements for non-citizens may differ between jurisdictions.

If a school decides a student with a visa can be enrolled, they need to determine a student’s eligibility to be reported in the school’s annual census return and for recurrent funding. Census guidelines provide advice on the relevant reporting requirements. Generally, this means schools can charge domestic fees for students with visas who are eligible for recurrent funding, and schools can charge full fees or pro-rate fees for students who are not eligible for recurrent funding. These include students with visitor visas and students who have 500-subclass student visa for the school sector.

What are the consequences if you don't comply?

You may be in breach of the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (Cth).  This may affect your school’s registration and could lead to prosecution and imprisonment under the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (Cth).

For more information please contact Dr Bronwyn Donaghey.