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International students and visas

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

Latest changes to international student visa

The Australian government has announced that it will begin granting international student visas in all locations to students currently outside of Australia. This means you will be able to make travel arrangements as soon as borders are open, without visa delays. You will also have more time to provide English language results if COVID-19 has disrupted access to these services.

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 start studying online in Semester 2, 2020, it will be counted towards your study requirements for PSWR as long as you hold a student visa whilst undertaking this study.

In other good news, the Australian government has confirmed visa fee waivers for visa extensions that are directly related to COVID-19.

Read the official government release.

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

Applying for a further student visa application (Subclass 500) due to COVID-19 – Form 1545

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) may consider waiving your visa application fee if you are extending your student visa. 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 waive 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

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 Semester 2, 2020

If you have a valid visa, yes, you would be able to join on-campus learning and other activities as soon as you are able to travel to Australia.

The University is working on a plan to open up the campus in the coming months and details will be posted as soon as government regulations are clear.

Semester 2 will start with teaching and learning delivered remotely, with face-to-face activities being introduced, with appropriate social distancing, as restrictions ease. It is expected that some learning activities, including lectures, will remain online and others will move increasingly to face-to-face learning activities.

Exams for Gaokao, HKDSE, CBSE, ISC and others have all been rescheduled. We will continue to monitor the situation so that we can try to accommodate students completing those 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.

As a temporary measure, the University will accept screenshots of documents from official university websites in order to make conditional or unconditional offers during this crucial period. This temporary measure will cease immediately when universities from impacted countries re-open.

The following temporary arrangements have been made for students who are applying for full unconditional offers for Semester 2, 2020 and Semester 1, 2021:

  • We will extend the current English language test validity to 3 years. 
  • We will 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 test 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 the Diploma 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 new students to begin with us online in Semester 2 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 for all students who are not able to join us in person, so that your studies are not delayed, and you can have the confidence that your education will not be disadvantaged.

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. 

Student visas and study load

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

The Department of Home Affairs has provided advice about student-visa obligations for students who are already studying (ie continuing and re-enrolling students with a ‘STUDYING’ visa status):

  • a suspension due to compassionate/compelling circumstances can be granted for cases where, due to the coronavirus travel restrictions, students cannot return to Australia in time to continue their studies (or would normally be expected to leave Australia).
  • if you are affected by the coronavirus travel restrictions you can apply for a suspension.
  • if you apply for a suspension for Semester 1 2020 due to travel restrictions, and your suspension is approved, your electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) will be cancelled. This is how the Department of Home of Affairs is notified that you are on a suspension. You will need to check directly with the Department of Home Affairs what your visa status is while on a suspension.

Students who have enquires relating to the status of their visa, should email Please be advised that the Department of Home Affairs is unable to disclose personal information to any third party.

For the most up-to-date general information regarding the Australian Government’s enhanced border control measures, please visit

If your student visa is going to expire soon, and your faculty or school has approved your continued enrolment, you’ll need to apply for an extension of your electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) and a new visa. It’s important to be aware of your visa’s expiry date and apply to extend your eCoE before your visa expires.

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

Apply to extend your eCoE through Sydney Student (go to 'My studies', then 'Course details').

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 is approved, you will be issued with a new electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) for your re-commencement intake. 

For deferral, please contact For visa matters, please contact the Department of Home Affairs.

Student visa holders may reduce study loads or suspend in semester 2 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. 

The University is required to cancel your eCoE for any suspension period and you will need to liaise with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) for advice about how to remain in Australia lawfully, if you are still in the country.  If you reduce your study load, your eCoE and student visa will remain active, however please note that both circumstances are likely to impact your end date of 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 asprescribed in the Coursework Rule, 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.

No, whilst you are studying remotely, you will not need a student visa. A student visa is required to enter Australia and to participate in an eligible course of study. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Australian borders are currently closed. You will be required to apply for a student visa when Australian borders re-open so that you can participate in face-to-face teaching.

If a commencing international student begins their studies remotely in Semester 2 2020 and is able to demonstrate they were denied the necessary visa to enable study in Australia despite reasonable efforts to obtain one, they may elect to have 100% of tuition fees for that semester refunded. However, if a student has completed the requirements for a unit of study and wishes to receive a grade and credit for that unit of study then a refund would not be available. 

If an international student commences their studies remotely in Semester 2 2020 and withdraws or suspends prior to census date, they may elect to have 100% of tuition fees paid for that semester credited to their next fee instalment.

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

You must still formally apply to reduce your study load. You can reduce your study load 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 Condition 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 increased the number of hours that individuals on a student visa can work, in certain fields of work. There are new provisions for student visa holders if they are:

  • already enrolled in nursing
  • work in aged care
  • employed by select supermarkets.

See employers included in these special work arrangements.

If you apply for studies remotely for the full duration of Semester 2, 2020 and will turn 18 before the formal start date of Semester 1 2021, you could choose to submit the visa application now or in the near future with a 157N Form (Student guardianship arrangements) to declare that you are under the age of 18 at time of lodging the application and intend to arrive in Australia after you have turned 18. 

If you apply for studies remotely in Semester 2, 2020 and will turn 18 after the formal start date of Semester 1, 2021, you could apply for a University of Sydney approved accommodation and guardianship arrangement if you choose to receive a Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) letter for the visa application. 

Please contact the Department of Home Affairs for advice.

An Australian government hotline has been established to assist international students with questions or concerns relating to their study and novel coronavirus:


Phone: 1300 981 621 (8am to 8pm AEDST Monday to Friday)

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.

Leaving 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.

As noted in the Vice Chancellor’s email update to international students on 6 April, 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 for Semester 2. 

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. 

Yes. The SSAF funds a variety of student support activities including advocacy and support for offshore students.

Please read and follow the instructions on your scholarship offer. For certain Scholarships, you will need to send an email to the Scholarships Office ( 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 recognition of online 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 Wednesday 27 May 2020.

Contact us

Students can submit a query via the Coronavirus Enquiry form.