I come into contact almost daily with International Students who want to change courses. Many want to make this change shortly after they have arrived. DIBP calls this ‘course hopping’.
DIBP have recently cancelled some 750 Student visa for ‘course hopping’ so I think it is perhaps timely to put a warning out there to students who may be contemplating such a course change.
It seems students who course hop fall into two main categories.
- Higher Education Sector visa (subclass 573) holders granted their visas under the streamlined visa processing provisions who, shortly after arrival in Australia, then applied for and were refused Vocational Education and Training Sector visas (subclass 572);
- Student visa holders who, upon arrival in Australia, have changed to a course of study that has no correlation to the course of study for which their Student visa was granted. For example, a Student visa holder intends to study for a Bachelor of Engineering, and then changes to a cookery course of study.
In both these cases we see Students who have said one thing to get the visa. Some make an ambit application for a course or package of courses that requiring less scrutiny from DIBP and then arrive and apply for non-streamlined visa processing that requires more scrutiny. Others apply for high end courses and then get here and try to change to much simpler and cheaper courses.
DIBP have also been looking at Student course hoppers who already have an adverse immigration history – so students with some ‘form’ for having already done the wrong thing.
Finally DIBP have been looking at Students who have not acted on advice from the department to abide by the requirements of their Student visas – which seems perfectly reasonable.
These visa cancellations have been for breach of Student visa condition 8516 which simply says…
“The holder must continue to be a person who would satisfy the primary or secondary criteria, as the case requires, for the grant of the visa.”
Students are always given an opportunity to provide an explanation of their circumstances and not all visas get cancelled. This is how DIBP put it…
“The Department works under a discretionary framework, and where students have demonstrated a genuine intention to study at the appropriate level for which their visa was granted we have made a decision not to cancel.”
So what is the message in all of this?
Do what you say you’re going to do and don’t try to work the system. Obviously from time to time there will be genuine circumstances that lead students to have to change courses mid-visa. DIBP have seen it all before and if you think you will be the one to be so clever that you can fool them and work the system in this way you will get into trouble.