When you first arrive in Australia you will be required to make your way through Australian Immigration (follow the signs for Arriving Passengers as you leave the plane). An Immigration Officer will ask to see your completed Incoming Passenger Card (given to you on the plane) along with your passport and student visa evidence. The Immigration Officer will check your documents and may ask you a few questions about your plans for your stay in Australia.
At The Airport
Once you have passed through the immigration checks you will move to baggage claim (follow the signs) and collect your luggage. Check that nothing is missing or damaged. If something is missing or damaged go to the Baggage Counter and advise them of your problem. Staff at the Baggage Counter will help you to find your belongings or lodge a claim for damage.
You may see a Quarantine Detector Dog at the baggage carousel or while waiting in line to pass through immigration, screening luggage for food, plant material or animal products. If you see a detector dog working close to you, please place your bags on the floor for inspection. These dogs are not dangerous to humans and are trained to detect odours. Sometimes a dog will sit next to your bag if it sniffs a target odour. Sometimes dogs will detect odours left from food you have had in the bag previously. A quarantine officer may ask about the contents of your bag and check you are not carrying items that present a quarantine risk to Australia.
Australian Customs and Quarantine
Once you have your luggage you will go through Customs. Be careful about what you bring into Australia. Some items you might bring from overseas can carry pests and diseases that Australia doesn’t have. You must declare ALL food, meat, fruit, plants, seeds, wooden souvenirs, animal or plant materials or their derivatives.
Australia has strict quarantine laws and tough on-the-spot fines. Every piece of luggage is now screened or x-rayed by quarantine officers, detector dog teams and x-ray machines. If you fail to declare or dispose of any quarantine items, or make a false declaration, you will get caught. In addition to on-the-spot fines, you could be prosecuted and fined more than AU$60,000 and risk 10 years in prison. All international mail is also screened.
Some products may require treatment to make them safe. Items that are restricted because of the risk of pests and disease will be seized and destroyed by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).
You will be able to leave the restricted area and enter the Arrivals Hall once you have cleared Customs. Here you will find a number of retail and food outlets along with public telephones, an information booth and money exchange facilities. If you arrive on a weekend, you may like to exchange money here as most banks are not open on Saturdays and Sundays.
You should prepare a folder of official documents to bring with you to Australia, including:
Valid passport with Student Visa
Offer of a place / admission letter from institution/school
Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) issued by institution/school
Receipts of payments (e.g. tuition fees, OSHC, bank statements etc.)
Original or certified copies of your academic transcripts and qualifications
Other personal identification documents, e.g. birth certificate, ID card, driver’s licence
Medical records and/or prescriptions
If you are travelling with your family you will need to include their documents as well. Keep all documents in your carry-on luggage. In case you lose the originals, make copies that can be left behind with family and sent to you.
You should read this section carefully, and discuss the issues raised in this section with the bank or financial institution in your home country before you leave. All banks operate differently and you should be aware of all fees, charges, ease of access to your funds, and safety of the way in which you will access those funds.
How Much to Bring
You will need to make sure you have enough funds to support you when you first arrive. It is recommended that you have approximately AU$1500 to AU$2000 available for the first two to three weeks to pay for temporary accommodation and transport. You should bring most of this money as either Traveller’s Cheques or on an international credit card. Traveller’s cheques can be cashed at any bank or currency exchange in Australia.
Please note that it is not safe to bring large sums of money with you! Lost credit cards or traveller’s cheques can be replaced, but very few travel insurance companies will replace lost or stolen cash. Do not ask someone you have just met to handle your cash for you or to take your cash to make payments for you. Not even someone who may indicate they are studying at the same education institution.
Only Australian currency can be used in Australia. If you have not brought some with you, you will need to do so as soon as possible after arrival. You can do this at the airport. Once you have arrived in Sydney, you can also change money at any bank or at currency exchanges that can be found in the city.
You can transfer money into Australia by electronic telegraph or telegraphic transfer at any time. This is a fast option and will take approximately 48 hours, but the bank will charge a fee on every transaction.
Automatic Teller Machines are located everywhere (including at the airport) and you can immediately withdraw cash from your overseas bank account at ATMs displaying the Cirrus Logo (if your ATM card has international access). Check this with your financial institution before leaving home.
All major international credit cards are accepted in Australia but you must remember that repayments to many of these cards can only be made in the country where they were issued. Do not rely on being able to get a credit card once you arrive in Australia because this is very difficult due to credit and identification laws.
Bringing My Family
Most student visas allow you to bring your family members to Australia as your dependants (check your individual circumstances with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship See: Arranging Visas). Family members include your spouse, and you and your spouse’s dependent children. Before bringing your spouse or children to Australia, you will have to prove that you can support them financially. The cost of supporting a family in Australia is very high. You may have to consider and discuss many issues with your family.
Keeping in Contact
Before you leave home, you should provide your family and friends, and your education provider in Australia, with details of your flights to Australia and where you will be staying when you arrive. (Do not change these details without informing them.) Once you have arrived in Australia, you should then let your family and friends know that you have arrived safely. It is important to ALWAYS let someone know where you are and how to contact you by phone or by post.
International students, who have any concerns or queries while studying at Excelsia College, should contact Bobby Abraham the International Student Advisor, during business hours. Excelsia College also provides a number of staff to help you with specific matters relating to your studies and well being. The Student Handbook includes details of student support services and guidance on who can help you with your concerns.
Issues to Consider
Rather than bringing your family together with you to Australia, some students may find it useful to arrive first, settle into studies, find appropriate accommodation, adjust to living in Australia and then arrange for their family to join them.
Before making a decision to bring your family to Australia it is important to consider the following issues:
The cost of airfares for your family to and from Australia;
Possible higher rent for a larger home;
Limited employment opportunities for your spouse;
Extra costs for food, clothing and other necessities;
The effect on you and your studies if your family is not happy in Australia;
Whether your children will adjust to school in Australia;
Waiting lists for child care centres; and
Whether to come alone to Australia first and arrange things for your family, or to all come at the same time.
If your family will be accompanying you to Sydney you may find it useful to contact real estate agents from before you arrive to find suitable accommodation.
If you would like to bring your children to Australia with you, you must be aware of the following schooling issues:
It is an immigration policy that school-age dependants of international students undertake formal schooling while they are in Australia.
Children who have their fifth birthday on or before 31 July of that calendar year are eligible to start school.
You will need to provisionally enrol your child in a school before you leave your home country and you will normally have to pay the school fees one semester in advance. The school will issue an electronic Confirmation of Enrolment Form (eCoE) stating the program and its duration, so that you can obtain the appropriate visa for your child.
The Diplomatic Mission in your country can tell you which State schools are registered to take international students. Fees are payable by international students at all State schools unless you:
– Are in receipt of sponsorship or scholarships from the Australian Government (e.g. the Australian Development Scholarship, IPRS);
– Hold a higher institution or approved non-government scholarship. These scholarships must be approved by the State government for the dependants to be exempt from school fees.
You will be responsible for school fees and other costs including school uniforms, books, excursions and stationery.
When choosing the most appropriate school for your child, it is best to ask questions about the school’s curriculum, size, extra-curricular activities and the size of individual classes.
You should also take into consideration the distance from the school to your education institution, the suburb in which you intend to live and the method of transport you plan to use.