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International student visa holders

Studying remotely as an international student
Information about studying remotely as an international student, including the impact on your visa.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has recommenced processing student visas for offshore international students since August 2020. It is recommended that you apply for your student visa even if you are studying remotely to avoid delays in processing when Australian borders do open.

Any remote/online study done due to COVID-19 will also be counted towards the Australian study requirements for a post-study work visa as long as you have a valid visa during this study. This means that if you started studying remotely in Semester 1, 2020, it will be counted towards your study requirements for post-study work visa as long as you hold a student visa whilst undertaking this study.

Read the official government release.

You can find more information on the Study in Australia website.

Payment of Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is a mandatory requirement for an Australian student visa to be granted. Whilst you are required to pay this initially, you may claim reimbursement with your health care provider for any period un-used whilst you were waiting for borders to re-open. It is suggested that you contact your OSHC provider at the end of your study period to claim this pro-rata reimbursement.

If you held a student visa on or after 1 February 2020 and need to lodge a further student visa application (Subclass 500), AND your extension is a consequence of COVID-19 conditions, DHA may consider waiving your visa application fee. Information regarding eligibility is available from the Department of Home Affairs website.

How to obtain Form 1545 from The University of Sydney:

  • eCoE requests that are eligible for 1545 will receive one, however, if you require a 1545 form but have a valid eCoE for the duration of your course, please email the Student Compliance Team and please quote your SID
  • Please note the University can only provide you with Form 1545 if your approved Suspension or Reduced Study Load application was due to the impacts of COVID-19, and your eCoE end date is within 3 months of your current visa expiry date

Important visa considerations

The University is here to support you with the transition to remote study. The Australian government has advised that the change from face-to-face to remote delivery will not impact your compliance with your visa conditions.

However, if you are impacted by the travel restrictions or are considering returning to your home country to study remotely, there are important visa considerations to be aware of.

Admissions for 2021

Semesters 1 and 2 will offer remote learning as well as face-to-face teaching for some of the courses, with appropriate social distancing.

Check if your program offers remote or online learning options for 2021.

High school completion exams all over the wold have been impacted, however, most have been rescheduled and some moved online. The University of Sydney will continue to monitor the situation so that we can try to accommodate students completing their high school or secondary school qualifications.

The University is committed to working with schools, awarding bodies and test partners globally and recognises the importance of students completing their qualifications and the necessary tests for admissions. As such we are working within guidelines to accept what is deemed appropriate and will not be making concessional arrangements outside of these without research and consultation.

Most universities have now recommenced issuing official documentation. If your institution is still unable to produce official documents you will need to supply an official dated statement from the institution showing they are not providing documentation.

The following temporary provisions have been made for students who are applying for admission in all teaching periods in 2021 for undergraduate and postgraduate coursework and in all Research Periods (RPs) in 2021 for Higher Degree by Research (HDR). The below provisions do not apply to pre-registration nursing courses within the Faculty of Medicine and Health. Students are advised to also check any additional requirements that can apply to courses which have external accreditation/registration requirements that are separate from the University’s English requirements where students may need to meet the higher requirements.

  • We have extended the current English language test validity to 3 years. 
  • We accept the IELTS Indicator from countries where standard testing procedures are not currently available.
  • We will accept TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition from countries where standard testing procedures are not currently available.

Once authorised English tests become available, these temporary arrangements will no longer be accepted. 

Find out more about our English language requirements.

Please note: The University acceptance of these tests is not related to any visa requirement. It is the students’ responsibility to check Home Affairs website for all visa related information. 

Both IB and A-Level will use existing assessment data to calculate the final scores for students who will still receive the official IB Diploma and GCE A Level Certificate. Therefore, IB and A-Level students will not be disadvantaged and these qualifications will be accepted by the University.

Yes, our Centre for English Teaching (CET) is delivering all courses online, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can complete our Direct Entry Courses from anywhere in the world, including your own home as you prepare for entry to our degree programs on time, as planned. 

Throughout the courses, you will participate in live Zoom sessions with teachers, join live group work sessions with peers, and complete interactive activities in English. 

Course assessments are conducted in a secure online environment. You will also be able to access CET’s full range of additional support programs, bonus lessons, well-being workshops and social activities to connect with your peers, all online.

We welcome most new offshore students to begin with us remotely in 2021 if Australia’s international borders are not open. If students are unable to enter Australia they may be able to commence online and join us in person when restrictions have lifted and it’s safe to do so, depending on future Government advice.

We will continue to deliver world class education and teaching remotely wherever possible for most students who are not able to join us in person in 2021, so that  your studies are not delayed, and  you can have the confidence that your education will not be disadvantaged.

If your course is available to commence remotely, there may be some aspects you must complete in Australia and you will usually be expected to come to Australia on a relevant visa as soon as you are able to do so.

Please also refer to the Department of Home Affairs for the latest information on travel restrictions and visa advice. We will continue to keep our community updated on the latest developments as they are received. 

Check if your course offers remote or online learning options for Semester 1, 2021.

The University appreciates this has been a difficult and uncertain time for our community including students who wish to come to Australia for their studies. We would very much like to see international students return to our campuses and we continue to work with relevant Australia governments to pursue this outcome. The most up-to-date information on this proposal can be found here.

Student visas and study load

The change from face-to-face to remote delivery will not impact your compliance with your visa conditions.  

The University is required by law to issue you with an electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE).  It is recommended that you use this to apply for a student visa even if borders are closed, to ensure that you do not have any delays associated with your visa processing when borders re-open for travel to Australia. Please keep in mind that if you intend to apply for a post-study work visa after you complete your University course, the period of study counted towards this visa.

If your electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) and student visa is going to expire soon; but you still need more time to complete your study, you need to request for an eCoE extension and then apply for a new student visa. It's important to be aware of your visa's expiry date and apply for eCoE extension and new student visa before your current visa expires.

To request for an eCoE, please go to Sydney Student (go to 'My studies', then 'Course details').

For information on applying for a new visa, visit the Department of Home Affairs website.

If you’re extending your visa, remember to contact your health insurance provider to extend your Overseas Student Health Cover.

If you are no longer studying, you will need to contact the Department of Home Affairs or a registered migration agent for information on other visa types and options.

If your suspension or deferral is approved, your current electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) will be cancelled, and a new eCoE with the new commencement date will be issued.

Your current student visa may be affected due to this suspension or deferral; therefore, you will need to liaise with the Department of Home Affairs for advice about how to remain in Australia lawfully, if you are still in the country.

For deferral, please contact international.admissions@sydney.edu.au. For visa matters, please contact the Department of Home Affairs.

Student visa holders may reduce study loads or suspend due to COVID-19 impacts (such as physical or mental health impacts, financial impacts or challenges associated with remote learning).  This flexibility has been provided by the Australian government during the COVID period only.  You can apply through Sydney Student via My Studies -> Units of Study -> Apply to reduce your study load. A Student Declaration Form may be used instead of providing other medical or financial documentary evidence and reasoning must explicitly reference COVID-19 impacts. All other requests for reduced study loads or suspensions that are unrelated to COVID-19 require standard evidentiary documentation. 

If you reduce your study load, your eCoE will remain active; however, please note that reduced study load is likely to impact your end date of the study. There may be opportunities to study additional units during intensive sessions to catch up; otherwise, you will require an eCoE extension to apply for a new student visa to remain in Australia longer to complete your studies.

Coursework students have time limits as prescribed in the Coursework Rule 2014, and are subject to maximum periods of suspension. Research students are also subject to maximum periods and inquiries may be directed to the Higher Degree by Research Administration Centre.

The University’s International Student Fee Refund Policy sets out the University’s policy on refunds.

For more information about our refund policy, international students should review their letter of offer.

Whilst on a student visa, you are required to maintain a full-time workload. You can reduce your study load, however, if COVID-19 conditions impact your ability to study a full-time load. This means that if you are struggling with the prospect of remote learning during these conditions, or if you are experiencing other impacts that could be classified as ‘compassionate or compelling circumstances’ (such as caring for a vulnerable person or recovering from COVID-19 yourself), you may apply for a reduced study load through Sydney Student via My Studies - Units of Study - Apply. 

This applies to students with a current student visa and those who commence without their student visa. If you hold your student visa, your electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) and student visa will remain active. However, please note that this is likely to impact your end date of study. There may be opportunities to study additional units during intensive sessions, otherwise, you will require an eCoE extension to extend your student visa to remain in Australia longer to complete your studies.

You cannot work more than 40 hours per fortnight when your course of study is ‘in session’, regardless of whether you are attending classes physically or studying remotely. However, the Department of Home Affairs has temporarily relaxed working hours limits for student visa holders.

For more information, visit the Department of Home Affairs website.

If you are applying for a student visa and you are under 18 years of age, you must have adequate welfare arrangements in place, unless you will turn 18 years old before arriving in Australia.

If you turn 18 before you arrive in Australia, you need to:

  • complete questions 1 to 8 in Form 157N Nomination of a student guardian to your application
  • have your parent or legal custodian sign the form
  • attach the form to your application

Find more information at the Department of Home Affairs website about welfare arrangments for students under 18.

Decisions related to eligibility for persons affected by the coronavirus will depend on how long the travel restrictions remain in place. The Department of Home Affairs will consider making concessions, on a case-by-case basis, for those applicants affected, once travel restrictions have been lifted.

Chinese nationals applying for an Australian skilled independent visa should refer to VETASSESS for information.

A request for release is assessed in accordance with the University's International Student Change of Provider Policy. A release is not provided automatically. You will need to apply for a release and outline how an alternate and similar course will allow you to complete requirements remotely. More information and instructions on how to apply for a release can be found on our website.

Visa advice can vary. The most up-to-date advice can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website. Our advice is that if you have held a student visa and have been studying remotely due to COVID-impacts but have been enrolled in a CRICOS registered course, you may apply for a post-study work visa (note that other requirements must also be met).

Visa advice can vary. The most up to date advice can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website. Our advice is that if you have held a student visa and have been studying remotely due to COVID-impacts but have been enrolled in a CRICOS registered course, you may apply for a post-study work visa (note that other requirements must also be met).

You should check the Department of Home Affairs website to see if you are eligible for an exemption and how to apply. 

Exemptions change regularly and can change at short notice. Currently, only students in their final two years of study in a medical, dental, nursing or allied health profession who meet specific placement criteria will be considered for an exemption.

If you are a student in the Faculty of Medicine and Health and decide you are eligible to apply for an exemption to enter Australia, you may request a supporting letter from the University by contacting fmh.education-support@sydney.edu.au. The University will provide a letter to students who we consider are eligible for an exemption. 

A supporting letter will contain your name and course name, your year of study together with relevant dates and locations for scheduled placements or other face-to-face learning requirements. 

You should not assume an exemption will be granted - exemption applications can take a significant amount of time to be processed and we are aware of instances in which exemptions have not been granted. 

Leaving from or arriving in Australia

Once borders have re-opened and travel is allowed students will be able to enter Australia. We will announce any changes once they become available but please refer to the Department of Home Affairs for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.

We will continue to keep our community updated on the latest developments as they are received.

Please refer to the Department of Home Affairs for the latest information on entering Australia.

The University is committed to supporting you throughout this challenging period, whether you are studying remotely in Australia, in your home country or elsewhere. We have developed a suite of financial and other measures to help ensure you can stay focused on your studies.

Information on the University’s website and specific information for international students published by the NSW Government and Australian Government may assist you in making your decision.

If you do wish to return to your home country or elsewhere to continue your studies remotely, you should be aware that the University cannot guarantee access to online content from third countries given varied internet content restrictions and most classes will be in Australian Eastern Standard time. In addition, we cannot guarantee that you will be covered by the University’s insurance policies and you may find it difficult to return to Australia which may delay your studies.

The global situation and travel advice is changing rapidly. If you are considering overseas travel, you will need to make your own travel arrangements. We recommend you regularly check information published in the media and elsewhere about the availability of flights to your destination, any travel advice issued by the Australian government and your destination country and any updates from your airline provider.

Fees and costs

You will need to provide an updated Financial Guarantee letter from your sponsor which covers the new deferral course dates in order to have your records updated and a new electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) issued accordingly.

The approval of the Financial Guarantee letter and sponsorship will be up to the discretion of the University.

Payment details will be outlined in your letter of offer. You will be expected to pay the full deposit, regardless of enrolment. If you later withdraw, suspend or defer your studies you may be entitled to a refund or a credit. 

The Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) is set annually by the Australian government. The 2021 full-time rate for Semester 2 is $156.50 AUD or part-time $117.35 AUD (semester study load of 0.374 equivalent full-time student load or less).

If you study on a part-time basis with a load of 0.374 or less you will be eligible for the lower rate. You will need to pay the relevant rate by the payment date set out on our website.

If you discontinue your course before the relevant census date, you will not be liable for the fee.

Please read and follow the instructions on your scholarship offer. For certain Scholarships, you will need to send an email to the Scholarships Office (scholarships.office@sydney.edu.au) to request a deferral for your scholarship offer and explain the reasons for your deferral request.

Deferral is subject to review from the Head of Scholarships Office and is subject to the terms and conditions of the scholarship.

No, the United States Government has amended the law in relation to on-line study for students enrolled at foreign institutions in receipt of US Federal Student Aid. The law allows an otherwise eligible program to be taught via online methods from March 1, 2020 for the duration of the qualifying emergency and the following semester.

You are still required to meet all other eligibility requirements. Enquiries should be made to the International Loans team at international.finaid@sydney.edu.au

Visit our webpage for information about the University's International Student Fee Refund Policy.

International recognition of remote study

The University of Sydney has obtained confirmation from Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange (CSCSE) officials that qualifications would be recognised for online studies provided students are currently enrolled at the University and their studies have been disrupted by COVID-19.

Students are advised to maintain records of their communication with the University to provide to CSCSE that verifies that they have indeed been impacted by COVID-19 situation.

Please check the provisions of your home country on the recognition of your overseas qualifications. Many countries are considering adjustments as a result of the global pandemic.

Last updated: Friday 14 May 2021.