Increase in maintenance funds required from Australian student visa applicants

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From 1 July 2012, as part of stage two of the Knight Review changes to the student visa program, the funds required for prospective Australian student visa applicants will increase from $18,000 to $18,610 per year. This funds requirement is to show that applicants have enough money to cover their living costs while studying in Australia.

The Knight Review is a government appointed strategic review of the student visa program to help reform the Australian immigration student visa program. In December 2010, the Australian Government conducted the first strategic review of the student visa program to help enhance the quality, integrity and competitiveness of the student visa program. Following the review, recommendations to reform the program were submitted to Australian immigration; they then began implementing changes to immigration rules in November 2011.

Foreign students are required to show that they have access to sufficient funds in order to be granted a Australian student visa. Visa applicants may have to show they have sufficient funds to cover these expenses for the first one or two years in Australia, depending on their assessment level.

Each country is assigned an Assessment Level which is based on the calculated immigration risk posed by students from that country studying in Australia. Higher assessment levels indicate a higher immigration risk. Countries in Assessment Level 1 include: The UK, the US, Italy, and Belgium. Countries in Assessment Level 2 include: South Africa, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. Countries in Assessment Level 3 include: Turkey, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Croatia. Countries in Assessment Level 4 include: China and Bangladesh.

"This helps to ensure students are better able to make the most of their studies and have a safe and enjoyable experience in Australia. Funds should be sufficient to contribute to the cost of travel, tuition, school costs of any dependents, and living costs," said Australia's Department of Citizenship and Immigration in a statement.

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