phd student visa
Visa delays are sparking frustration among PhD students who have received offers from Australian universities. Here's what you can learn from this sage. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

PhD student visa delays are causing anxiety among international students and Australian academics.

Students from countries like Iran, China, and Pakistan with offers from Australian universities say that they have been waiting for up to three years to obtain their visas, according to PIE News

One Iranian student has been waiting for two years to get his student visa approved. Tired of this, he’s swapping Australia for the UK.

“The entirety of [the] UK process, from the interview for the position to the visa admission, took about five months,” the Iranian student explained.

Clément Canonne, a computer science lecturer at the University of Sydney, shared his concerns on Twitter, causing some other academics to weigh in.

Some have described the situation as “frustrating” and “unbearable.” 

Canonne is worried that PhD student visa delays will hinder the university’s ability to recruit top students in the future.

Worse, some students would have to sacrifice other PhD or work opportunities. 

phd student visa

Academics are concerned that student visa delays can risk a decline in research standards at Australian universities. Source: William West/AFP

Australian student visa delays explained

Since the reopening of Australian borders reopened on Dec. 15, 2021, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has reportedly been grappling with an influx of applications.

Visa backlogs by those affected by the country’s two-year border closure add more delays.

There was also a budget cut of 875 million Australian dollars to the DHA, which could have increased the student visa processing times. 

Ninety percent of PhD student visa applications take up to 10 months, according to DHA data. All international students must apply for a subclass 500 student visa to study in Australia. 

If you are thinking about starting this postgraduate journey in Australia, here are four tips to help avoid get your visa on time.

phd student visa

Remember to apply for your student visa early before you leave to study overseas. Source: Wang Zhao/AFP

4 tips to help speed up your PhD student visa application

Remember this: there is no magic bullet to speed up your visa application once you have submitted it. It is also difficult to predict when you could get your Australian student visa.

But there are certain things you can do to help reduce basic visa application errors that can slow down your application.

1. Fill out your application correctly

Check through all the necessary details in your application and ensure you have all your documents.

Here’s a checklist of what you need for this application:

  • Your offer letter
  • Your Confirmation of Enrolment
  • Proof of English proficiency (You can click here to see the acceptable English test)
  • A letter to satisfy the Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement
  • Proof of sufficient funds
  • Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) insurance coverage
  • A medical certificate

You would also need to pass the health and character requirements for this application. You can also get someone to help you with your application, such as a registered migration agent​, a legal practitioner, or an exempt person, notes the DHA.

2. Submit genuine documentation

This is a no-brainer. The DHA recommends “check twice, submit once” for a faster visa processing time. Do consider attaching separate verifications for the documents you submit.

3. Don’t apply at the last minute

Once you have been accepted into your programme at an Australian university or institution, start collecting the necessary documents needed for your visa and apply immediately.

4. Respond immediately if you’re asked to provide additional documentation

If the DHA contacts you for further clarification(s) or requests more documents regarding your application, reply promptly to prevent any delays.

Some applications can be rejected due to insufficient or incomplete documents.

Remember to check your Immigration and Border Protection (IMMI) online account regularly. If a migration agent is handling your application, follow up by checking if there are any requests by the DHA.