International students considering applying to study at Australian universities are being reminded that the student visa Assessment Level Framework has been simplified.

Since last month, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has removed AL4 and AL5 so that the framework now consists of three assessment levels, AL1 to AL3. AL1 represents the lowest immigration risk and AL3 represents the highest immigration risk. The changes only affect new student visa applications made after 22 March 2014.


The changes only affect new student visa applications made after 22 March 2014​

This follows the findings of a review of the Student Visa Assessment Level and alongside the financial requirement for AL3 student visa applicants has been reduced from 18 months to 12 months.

ALs determine the level of evidentiary requirements, related to factors such as financial capacity and English language ability, that an applicant must provide to be granted a student visa. The higher the AL, the greater are the evidentiary requirements that apply.

However, as a result of this change, funds for AL3 applicants are required to be provided by the visa applicant or their close relative. Prior to 22 March 2014 an AL3 student visa applicant was required to provide evidence of funds from an acceptable source to pay for their expenses for the first 18 months of their stay in Australia.

At the time of the review no countries had been assigned as AL5. The removal of AL4 results in all students who were formerly subject to AL4 instead being assessed as AL3.

'Former AL4 visa applicants benefit from this change as there is a reduction in the level of evidence of English language proficiency, financial capacity and previous study that they need to provide to the department for the grant of their visa,' said DIBP spokesman.

'For example, international students seeking a Schools sector (subclass 571) visa from countries that were previously AL4 are now able to enroll in Australian schools from Year 7 instead of from Year 10. This provides a substantial benefit for both students and schools,' he added.

The AL Framework manages immigration risk in the student visa programme by aligning minimum evidentiary requirements for student visa applications to the immigration risk posed by applicants from a particular country applying for a particular student visa subclass.

When someone applies for a student visa, a legislative instrument specifies which AL applies based on the applicant's passport country and their main course of study.

The Migration Regulations 1994 then prescribe what level of English language proficiency, financial requirements and previous study the applicant must provide based on their AL.