Taking Time Off
If you plan to take a break (Leave of Absence or Deferment) from your studies, you need to be aware of the implications this will have on your visa status.
As a student visa holder, you are expected to study while you remain onshore in Australia. If you wish to take a break from your studies, it is likely that your student visa will be cancelled and you will need to return home. This is because study is the main condition of your student visa.
If you wish to take a break from your studies, you need to inform International Student Support so that they can file the appropriate report with the Department of Immigation and Border Protection. This report is crucial, as it allows the University of Adelaide to extend your period of study beyond its original duration so that you will have enough time to return to Australia to complete your studies.
For further details on visa conditions check the DIBP website. You can use the search function on the DIBP website and type the word 'obligations' followed by your visa subclass number. For example, '573' if you are a coursework student or '574' if you are a research student.
The processes and conditions for taking a break from your studies are different for coursework and research students.
- Coursework Students
For students studying a coursework program, such as a Bachelor degree or a Masters by Courework program, you must check if your break from study will impact on your ability to complete your courses.
If you require a short break from your coursework program (i.e. 1-2 weeks), you may be able to take a break from your program without it affecting your student visa if the break is for a compelling or compassionate reason (e.g. due to a short term illness), and provided you are still able to meet all of the program requirements, including attendance and assessment requirements. You must discuss your break with someone in your School or Faculty to ensure you will still meet your program requirements, and it is possible they will assign you extra work you can do to make up for your absence. If you are unsure of the effect this will have on your student visa you should also contact the ISC.
Deferment of Studies
If you need to take a break from your studies for any reason and, as a result, you will be unable to complete the courses for a given semester, you will need to defer your studies until a future semester. If you need to defer your studies, you must come into the ISC to speak with a Student Advisor. You will also need to fill in an Amendment to Enrolment form.
Please note: Deferring students may still need to pay for their courses and may still incur a Withdraw No Fail or Withdraw Fail grade on their transcripts, depending on when they choose to defer their studies. Please refer to the University's critical dates for more info.
For coursework students, if the leave request is for compelling circumstances and the duration of leave is six (6) months or less (i.e. it will only affect one semester), then Department of Immigration and Border Protection might allow your student visa to remain valid. Please note that in this circumstance you are still expected to return home during the period of approved leave. Only in very rare circumstances will you be allowed to remain in Australia on a student visa if you are not studying. See section: Stay or Go?.
- Research Students
Research students (i.e. PhD and Masters by Research students) have different types of leave, some of which affect their student visa and some of which don't. As such, it is best to discuss your leave options with a Compliance Officer or Student Advisor at the ISC prior to taking a period of leave. Research students should also discuss any periods of leave with their academic supervisors.
Leave of Absence
Research students are allowed to take a Leave of Absence for up to 28 calendar days (i.e. including weekends) in any given calendar year (i.e. from 1 January until 31 December) without it affecting their student visa. If you need to take a Leave of Absence for longer than 28 days in a given calendar year, please contact the ISC and ask to speak to a Compliance Officer about your leave options.
If a research student takes more than 28 days Leave of Absence in a given calendar year, the University of Adelaide is required to report this to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Depending on the circumstances, this may result in the cancellation of your CoE and subsequently your student visa.
Research students are entitled to four (4) weeks of annual leave per year. Annual leave is managed by your School or Faculty and does not affect your student visa in any way.
Study leave is a special type of leave research students have access to. You can discuss study leave with your academic supervisor. It does not affect your student visa.
- Stay or Go?
In very limited circumstances you may be able to remain onshore on a student visa while you take a break from your studies provided you meet the required medical, compassionate, or compelling grounds (e.g. you are medically unable of travel). In most cases, student visa holders will be expected to return home during the period of their break from study. If you believe you meet the requirements that allow you to remain in Australia during your break from study you will need to discuss this with a Compliance Officer or Student Advisor at the ISC. You will also need to provide adequate supporting documentation (e.g. a letter of support from your treating doctor).
Please note: As with all visa matters, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection is ultimately responsible for making a ruling on your visa status, and on whether or not you are allowed to remain in Australia. The ISC cannot guarantee your student visa will or will not be cancelled, nor can we guarantee that you will be allowed to remain in Australia.