Australian government moves to expedite student visa process

The Australian government took steps earlier this month to move its country into the top tier of study abroad destinations when it streamlined the requirements for foreign student visas. 
 
Under the new guidelines, foreign students in Australia must have a confirmation letter issued by university that they plan to attend. The verification letter replaced the pre-visa assessment, which was issued by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and took longer to obtain.
 
The changes also removed the language test requirement for some applicants whose first language is not English.
 
Foreign students must demonstrate that they can survive financially in Australia, using bank statements to verify savings of at least $36,000 when applying for the visa.
 
Officials from the University’s Office for Study Abroad said the change is unlikely to affect how many GW students go to Australia as the visa process was already less complex than many other countries’. 
 
“The Australian visa is one of the only visas that can be obtained online and takes approximately 10 business days to process,” Exchange Programs Coordinator Jacleen Mowery said.
 
Covering the visa requirements has not been a problem at GW, Mowery added.
 
“I do not think that the visa processes of any one particular country dictates or predicts where and when their experience will take place,” she said.
 
This semester, 18 GW students are abroad in Australia. The University will send another 30 students there in the spring, Mowery said.
 
GW students in Australia can go abroad with a third-party backer, an exchange program or with small cohorts of American students who go to research specific topics.
 
The Australian Visa Bureau did not return a request for comment.

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