Supporting the safe return of international students to NSW

Latest information for international students, education providers and agents as at 16 April 2021

Study NSW is working closely with the Australian Government and NSW Government agencies to support the safe return of international students to NSW. We look forward to welcoming international students back to Sydney and NSW when it's safe to do so.

About

The NSW Government is committed to supporting the safe return of international students to Sydney and NSW as soon as possible. This  evolving situation remains a high priority for the NSW Government.

Study NSW is leading these efforts while we continue to deliver international student programs and support the international education sector in NSW.

We value the positive social and cultural contributions that international students continue to make to the NSW communities in which they study, live and work, helping to connect our cities and regions to the world.

Approximately two in five international students in Australia chose to study in NSW in 2019, and we look forward to a time where we can welcome more students back to our shores.

Travel to Australia

Australia has strict border measures in place to protect the health of the Australian community.

Currently, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, nobody can enter Australia unless they’re an Australian citizen, permanent resident or in an exempt category. Visit the Department of Home Affairs Coming to Australia page for more information, including details on exemptions to the ban.

There remains a high level of demand from Australian citizens and residents, currently overseas, who are seeking to return home. With very limited flights along with limits on daily arrivals into Sydney Airport, the capacity of our health and quarantine systems need to be carefully managed to prevent further COVID-19 outbreaks. This helps protect the health of NSW communities.

Timeline

Study NSW is committed to working closely with agencies of the Australian Government, who manage international border control, to proceed plans for the safe return of international students to NSW - your welfare, safety and ongoing education is our priority.

As at 1 March 2021, there is not a date for the easing of border restrictions for students. At this point, international students are still unable to enter Australia unless they are an Australian citizen, permanent resident or in an exempt category.

We encourage you to visit the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website for the latest updates and travel advice.

Information about student visas

Visit the Australian Government Study Australia website and the Department of Home Affairs website for frequently asked questions and answers regarding student visas.

If you are an international student waiting to return to Australia, we encourage you to regularly review the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website and stay in close communication with your education provider for any developments.

Each education provider has a website with updated and comprehensive COVID-19 information for their students. This is a good source of trusted information.

More information

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Frequently asked questions for international students

Why can’t I return to Australia to study?

Due to the COVID-19 risk, travel into Australia is limited. A quarantine process is in place, however, the number of travelers in quarantine at any one time is limited by resources and emerging risk. The current priority is to return those overseas Australian citizens and residents still seeking to return home.

Returning international students to Australia is a top priority for the NSW Government. Study NSW will continue to work alongside the Australian Government and education providers to find a safe way for this to happen.

What will happen to my student visa? 

Visit the Australian Government Study Australia website and the Department of Home Affairs website for frequently asked questions and answers regarding student visas.

Can I just buy a ticket to Australia and get on the flight?

The Department of Home Affairs advises that you do not buy a plane ticket to enter Australia, unless you are a citizen, permanent resident or have been granted entry through the exemption process. Should you attempt to travel to Australia, your visa may be at risk while those travel restrictions remain in place.

Please check the Australian Government Home Affairs COVID-19 website for information on the rules and regulations around international arrivals to Australia.

I’m in Year 11/12 and would like to return to high school - when will this be possible? 

Due to the COVID-19 risk, travel into Australia is limited. A quarantine process is in place, however, the number of travelers in quarantine at any one time is limited by resources and emerging risk. The current priority is to return those overseas Australian citizens and residents still seeking to return home.

International students returning to Australia is a top priority for the NSW Government. Study NSW will continue to work alongside the Australian Government and education providers to find a safe way for it to happen.

Please check the Department of Education Skills and Employment website for the latest news and updates on returning to your NSW school to study.

I’ve had my COVID-19 vaccine - can I travel to Australia to study?

At this time, having the COVID-19 vaccine will not give you the exemption to travel to NSW. The only exception to this is if you are an Australian citizen, permanent resident or have been granted an exemption.

Vaccine recognition will be considered once more information is available regarding the effectiveness of vaccines.

We encourage you to subscribe to the Study NSW newsletter and follow Study NSW on FacebookInstagramTwitter and WeChat for regular updates.

Can the NSW Government write me a letter of support for an exemption to return?

The NSW Government cannot provide individual letters of support for international students seeking exemptions to return to Australia. The NSW Government is focused on trying to find a way to return international students more broadly. We recommend that you contact your education provider to seek letters of support.

What support is being provided to international students already in NSW?

The NSW Government through Study NSW is supporting international students in NSW during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can explore the initiatives and support that the NSW Government has been providing on the Study NSW website.

If you require support, please speak to your education provider. They will be able to advise of initiatives and support available to support you.

How long can I defer my studies if I'm not able to come to Australia?

Please contact your education provider to discuss deferral and alternative study options.

Do I need a visa to study offshore? 

For any student visa questions, updates or information, please visit the Australian Government Study Australia website and the Department of Home Affairs website.

Can I suspend my OSHC?

For information on how to manage your overseas health cover, please contact your provider directly to discuss your options.

I am still paying rent because my contract renewal is not yet due, can I break my lease? 

We are unable to offer legal advice with regards to your lease, but please visit NSW Fair Trading if you have any lease contract related issues or questions.

If you require legal assistance, the Redfern Legal Centre can help, their International Student Legal Service NSW gives free, confidential legal advice to international students living in New South Wales. please visit their website for more information on how they can help you.

You can also access the free My Legal Mate service if you require legal assistance with your lease.


Frequently asked questions for NSW education providers 

When can international students return to Australia?

Finding a way for international students to return to Australia is a top priority for the NSW Government. Due to the COVID-19 risk, travel into Australia is limited. NSW has a quarantine process is in place, however, the number of travelers in quarantine at any one time is guided by resources and emerging risk. The priority is to return those overseas Australian citizens and residents still seeking to return home while finding a way for international students to return to NSW.

What can education providers say to their students? 

Finding a way for international students to return to NSW is top priority for the NSW government. Due to the COVID-19 risk, travel into Australia is limited. NSW has a quarantine process is in place, however, the number of travelers in quarantine at any one time is guided by resources and emerging risk. For regular updates, please advise them to subscribe to the Study NSW newsletter and follow Study NSW on FacebookInstagramTwitter and WeChat.

Our website www.study.sydney will also be updated as new information becomes available.

Has the NSW Government and Study NSW consulted with any education providers about the return of international students to NSW?

Study NSW is working across the public and private education sector with regards to the return of international students to NSW. For further information on your particular sector, please speak to your industry peak body.

How many international students are expected to return in 2021?

Finding a safe way for international students to return to Australia is a top priority for the NSW Government. Due to the COVID-19 risk, travel into Australia is limited. New South Wales has a quarantine process in place, however, the number of travelers in quarantine at any one time is guided by resources and emerging risk. The NSW Government's priority is to grant entry to overseas Australian citizens and residents still seeking to return home while finding a way for international students to return to NSW.

At this stage, we can not confirm the number of students that can expect to return in 2021. Please subscribe to the Study NSW newsletter and follow Study NSW on FacebookInstagramTwitter and WeChat for regular updates.


Frequently asked questions for international education agents 

Why can’t students return to NSW to study? 

Due to the COVID-19 risk, travel into Australia is limited. A quarantine process is in place, however, the number of travelers in quarantine at any one time is guided by resources. The priority is to return those overseas Australian citizens and residents still seeking to return home. Finding a way for international students to safely return to Australia is also a top priority for the NSW Government.

Currently there are restrictions on who can enter Australia, please check the Australian Government Home Affairs COVID-19 website for information on the rules and regulations around international arrivals to Australia.

Where should students go to find out more information about returning to NSW?

Currently there are restrictions on who can enter Australia, please advise them to check the Australian Government Home Affairs COVID-19 website for information on the rules and regulations around international arrivals to Australia.

Please encourage them to subscribe to the Study NSW newsletter and follow Study NSW on FacebookInstagramTwitter and WeChat for regular updates.

This webpage, Return of international students to NSW will be updated as new information becomes available.