Students, will your Australian visa be cancelled like Novak Djokovic's?
Just like Novak Djokovic, there is a possibility that your Australian visa could get cancelled if you don't meet character and health requirements for entry. Photo by Martin Bureau / AFP

Australia’s immigration and vaccination rules for travel are equally binding on all amid a public health crisis. That’s one lesson unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic had to learn the hard way when he had his Australian visa cancelled — twice.

A tense battle with Australian immigration ended with the Serbian’s unceremonious exit from the country — just one day before the start of the 2022 Australian Open.

The country finally reopened its borders in December 2021 after nearly two years of isolation, even as Australia faces rising Omicron cases.

A total of 43,000 international students have arrived on campus in the last two months, and more are expected to follow, with flexibility given to certain Australian visa subclasses for the return.

That said, if you’re an international student who is entering Australia soon, you should know some ground rules about your eligibility to avoid sharing Djokovic’s fate.

Which Australian visa for students are good to go?

At this time, the Australian government has relaxed several visa subclasses for entry into its borders.

The federal government has also temporarily removed the 40-hour-a-fortnight cap on student visa-holder workers, which means they will no longer have restrictions on the number of hours they can work.

If you’re a Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holder, you can schedule for an arrival anytime starting Feb. 18, 2022, after which you can apply for a further stay. Your visa will be extended if you were outside of Australia at any time between Feb. 1, 2020 and Dec. 14, 2021 with a valid Temporary Graduate visa.

Is there a possibility that my Australian visa could be cancelled?

Australian visa cancellation can happen if you do not meet character requirements for entry.

International students must be fully-vaccinated with a TGA-approved vaccine to enter the country. Source: William West/AFP

After all that planning and mandatory testing, no one wants to be told that their visa is revoked. Yet, there’s always a possibility where things can go awry.

The changing nature of immigration rules during COVID-19 can be confusing, but it’s worth knowing the Immigration Minister’s power in cancelling a visa.

Under Australian law, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs may cancel a visa if a person doesn’t pass the “character test” outlined in Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958. Djokovic’s case, however, falls under Section 116 of the same law, which includes granting the minister the power to revoke a visa if a traveller doesn’t meet mandatory health requirements that can potentially endanger the lives of others.

To put it shortly, under the current situation, you must be an eligible visa holder who is fully-vaccinated to enter Australia. Your visa can be revoked if:

  • You do not comply with visa conditions
  • You don’t meet the Australian character requirements
  • You’ve provided inaccurate information or false documents
  • You’ve requested for your visa to be cancelled

What should I do if my Australian visa is cancelled?

If your visa is cancelled, you can still appeal for reinstatement. The process can be arduous — you’re sometimes given as little as two days to appeal the decision.

The cancellation decision will come with a letter, and you must read the fine print carefully because it can vary case-by-case. Generally, the review process is done through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), where an appeal decision is made after a hearing. You can know more about the steps involved in the review process on the AAT website.

Is Australia accepting any student visa application now?

At the time of writing, Australia is accepting student visa applications and has upped their resources to avoid backlogs and delays in processing. You can visit the Department of Home Affairs’ Immigration and Citizenship website to track your application progress, as global visa processing times are updated monthly.