Department of Home Affairs – updates on Student Visa Subclass 500 for Colombian nationals

The Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is monitoring and assessing many factors when updating their requirements for student visa applicants from all countries.

In their recent update -which happens every 6 months- DHA decreased the risk level for student visa applications from Colombia from risk level 2 to risk level 1.

These are good news, which may indicate that Colombians are good students and generally comply with their visa conditions. Other factors the government are also paying attention to are the economic situation of the country, the political stability, etc.

What does all this mean for a Colombian applicant applying for a student visa to Australia? 

There is a whole lot of talk about how from now on Colombians do not need to show any financial requirements. 

But is this true?

Let me illustrate with an example: when Colombia was (until recently) in Risk level 2 and a Colombian national applied for a student visa to study in an English college in Australia where the college was also level 2 under a student visa regulation subclass 500, it also DID NOT require the applicant to provide financials.

And yet, in 95% cases DHA has requested financials from the applicant. 

How is that possible, that DHA system does not require financials but it was still required by the case officer?

It has a simple answer and we need to understand that visa applications have 2 important stages:

  1. Time of application requirements – documents needed to apply for a visa
  2. Time of decision requirements – documents needed and often requested by the case officer to make a decision

The fact that the regulation does not require financials at the time of application, does not mean that DHA will not require financials when they are about to make a decision.

When a student visa applicant lodges his/her visa application, he/she is declaring in question on page 15 in the online application that he/she has sufficient funds to cover the study, life and travel expenses to and from Australia.

In other words, every applicant is saying/declaring “ YES I HAVE THE MONEY/FUNDS!”.

What happens if DHA requests proof of such money/funds? Well, they may be satisfied with a bank balance at the time of the request, however DHA may also requests proof that the funds WERE AVAILABLE at the time of application and declaration that the applicant had the funds.

Another example, this time from a European applicant’s perspective. Most EU countries are risk level 1 or 2 and also do not need to provide financials at the time of application, but nationals of certain countries, which are risk level 1,  will not be granted visa unless they provide financials.

Australian migration regulations may be in some cases a bit generic in nature and leave the final decision and required documents up to the case officer, who understands certain countries and regions.

So what has changed for Colombian nationals intending to apply for an Australian student visa? 

The correct answer is: not much. Colombia has been risk level 2 until recently, and also did not require Financial proof at the time of application but we all know the reality: additional documents such as financials were indeed requested, in order to be granted a student visa.

We would need to wait and see how DHA will process student visas for Colombian nationals under the new regime.

In my professional opinion as a migration agent with 20+ years experience with student visas,  I would be careful however as to say that now Colombian applicants do not need money / do not need to show money to be granted a student visa to Australia, as it may not be the case in many applications.

So since every applicant must declare in their application that they have the funds and since therefore the funds should be available (regardless of risk level 1 or 2), just simply attach it at the time of lodgement to increase your chances for a successful application and speedy processing.  


Michal Sestak

MCom, GC Migration Law, BBM
Registered Migration Agent 0208424
Founder and Director of AustraliaOnline

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