Students must not change courses without the approval of the Minister, notes the Department of Home Affairs. Source: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP

Here’s the latest Australian visa update: international students in Australia will not be able to change courses without approval from the Minister. 

According to NRI Affairs, the Australian government will be changing the rules for Australian student visa (subclass 500) holders, which is expected to come into effect this July.

Quoting an explanatory statement issued by the federal home minister, the portal said the legislation “inserts a condition for Subclass 500 (Student) visa holders studying, or intending to undertake, higher education studies that they must not change their course of study, or research topic unless approved by the Minister”.

“The Minister cannot approve the change unless satisfied that there is not an unreasonable risk of unwanted transfer of critical technology by the visa holder,” it reads.

A visa can also be cancelled if the Minister is satisfied that there is an unreasonable risk of unwanted transfer of critical technology by the visa holder.

“Cancellation will be discretionary for ‘relevant visas’ (certain protection visas and related bridging visas), but mandatory for all other types of visa,” said the statement.

The new visa conditions — 8204A and 8204B — have been added to student visa holders studying a higher education course or postgraduate research course and intend to change their course of study, thesis or research topic.

change courses

Source: Torsten Blackwood/AFP

Change courses: How will it affect my Australian student visa?

While the new rules will give the Minister power not to approve an international student’s decision to change courses in the public’s interest, Australian student visa holders can challenge the Minister’s decision, claimed the report.

The two new visa conditions only apply to student visas received after July 1, 2022. Applications received before this date will not be affected by the new ruling.

Student visa conditions to know about

According to the Department of Home Affairs, condition 8204 notes that international students must not undertake or change their course of study, thesis or research topic without the approval of the Minister for a:

  • Graduate certificate
  • Graduate diploma
  • Master’s degree
  • Doctorate, or
  • Any bridging course required as a prerequisite to a course of study or research for a master’s degree or doctorate

The Department notes that this approval “can only be given after the minister has obtained an assessment from the competent Australian authorities that you are not likely to be directly or indirectly a risk to Australian national security”.

Students who are considering changing their thesis, major or research topic must complete Form 1221 and submit it to More details can be found here.