With its sun-drenched cities and buzzy cosmopolitan culture, it’s no wonder Australia is hugely popular with international students. If you’re hoping to be one of them, there will be a lot of things to consider, from how to get a student visa to deciding which Australian bank you might like to join. 

Here at Remitly, we know dealing with all the information can be a little daunting, which is why we’ve put together this snappy summary of the essential information you need to know when gearing up for a new life Down Under.

Applying for a student visa

The first and most crucial step when preparing to study in Australia – other than actually enrolling at a course – is applying for the Australian student visa, subclass 500. You should do this at least six weeks before the course starts, and you can get the ball rolling online through the official government portal, where you’ll have to create an account before you’re taken through the step-by-step application process. 

The visa costs from AUD 620 and will entitle you to stay and study in the country for up to five years. To apply successfully, you’ll have to:

  • Provide a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE), which shows you’ve been accepted for a full-time course that’s registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). There are some exceptions, such as if you have a letter of support proving you’re studying under a scholarship scheme approved by the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  • Provide documents confirming your identity, which can include your passport and birth certificate.
  • Meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement by providing a personal statement that includes information on your educational background, current employment, evidence of family ties in your home country and your financial situation.
  • Arrange adequate Overseas Student Healthy Cover from an approved Australian health insurance provider.
  • Provide evidence you can afford your living costs while in Australia.

If you’re not coming over from an English-speaking country, you may also have to obtain a satisfactory score in an approved English language test, such as IELTS or TOEFL. 

Finding accommodation

When it comes to where you’ll actually live while in Australia, there are a few options on the table:

  • Managed student accommodation, which is operated by the educational institution itself and will be fully furnished with bills included. If your institution offers this, you can get details by contacting the relevant department. 
  • Private rental, which will require a security deposit and some rent paid in advance. You can rent a room in a property where other people already live, or get a place with some of your friends. Either way, you can see what’s available by contact local real estate agents or searching listings sites specialising in student accommodation.
  • Homestay, where you move in with a family, and meals and cleaning will often be provided as part of the stay. This is a good option if you’re after home comforts, and there are a number of sites online where you can browse approved homestay properties.

Finding a part-time job while studying in Australia

Many international students will be hoping to work while studying, both as a way to make extra money and make new friends. The good news is that it’s perfectly fine to do so, with the student visa regulations allowing you to work up to 40 hours per fortnight during each semester. You can also work unlimited hours during course breaks. 

You’ll be able to consider numerous part-time job opportunities, with retail and hospitality being popular options for students. Ensure you have an up-to-date résumé listing your education, work experience and skills before you start applying for positions through job search websites and through any listings promoted by your educational institution. 

It’s important to be aware of how tax works in Australia. Bear in mind that you should apply for a Tax File Number (TFN) from the Australian Taxation Office, so you’re taxed at the correct rate. The good news is that if you’re only working part-time, your earnings could fall into the tax-free bracket. That said, you’ll still have to file your tax return by 31 October every year.

Setting up a bank account

Opening a bank account in Australia will most likely be another big task on your to-do list. There are a number of top banks to choose from, and their websites helpfully lay out the key aspects of their bank accounts, including the various perks and any associated fees. This makes life a lot easier, as you can take your time to carefully compare the options and apply online even before you travel to Australia. Here are some questions to have in mind when considering accounts:

  • Will you be charged monthly fees for maintaining your account?
  • Does the bank provide a user-friendly mobile app that lets you track your spending and make payments on the move?
  • Does the bank have staff who speak your first language?
  • Does the account come with extra services like an overdraft and the ability to withdraw funds from ATMs around the world?

Sending money back home

While much of your focus will naturally be on your studies while in Australia, you may also need to send money back to loved ones in your home country. These may be financial gifts for birthdays and other special occasions, or you may need to make regular transfers to supplement your recipients’ living costs. 

There are two main options for anyone looking to make international money transfers: through your Australian bank account, or through a dedicated remittance service. While using your bank may be very convenient, it may not be the most cost-effective option. For example, remittance companies that are based entirely online won’t have to pay extra overheads for running bricks-and-mortar premises, which means they can pass those savings onto their customers. It’s well worth comparing what’s on the market so you’re sure you get the best possible deal with money transfers.

Ready to start sending?

Millions of people trust Remitly with their international money transfers. Our industry-standard encryption keeps sensitive details secure, while our fuss-free mobile app lets you send money to the most important people in your life with a few simple taps. If you’re curious to know more, check out our website and download the app to get started. 

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This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover all aspects of the topics discussed herein. This publication is not a substitute for seeking advice from an applicable specialist or professional. The content in this publication does not constitute legal, tax, or other professional advice from Remitly or any of its affiliates and should not be relied upon as such. While we strive to keep our posts up to date and accurate, we cannot represent, warrant or otherwise guarantee that the content is accurate, complete or up to date. The information in our blogs should be considered accurate only as of the date of the blog. We disclaim any obligation to supplement or update the information in these blog articles.