International Students Legal Information
A free resource for international students living in Victoria.
Life as an international student can be difficult at times. It’s OK to ask for help.
These stories are based on experiences international students have had.
Learn about the people and services that can help you.
This information is provided free for you to use by Inner Melbourne Community Legal. It was written by community lawyers with the help of international students living in Victoria.
It is not legal advice.
You can contact the services listed above for help with your legal problem.
Want to suggest a topic or give feedback? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
With thanks to these organisations and individuals for their input:
- Council for International Students (CISA)
- Echoes Global Education
- ISANA International Education Association
- Meld Magazine
- Paper Giant
- Federation of Community Legal Centres Student Legal Services Network
- Study Melbourne Student Centre (SMSC)
- Dr Shanton Chang, The University of Melbourne
Get free, confidential help
CLCs are independent community organisations that provide free legal services to the public. They help people who are ineligible for legal aid and cannot afford a private lawyer.
They can provide free legal information, advice and in some cases ongoing assistance to you as an international student.
Other places that can help you
If you're having a problem getting a refund from your school or the place where you live, CAV might be able to help you fix it.
If you need help with a fine, the FineFixer website can guide you through some steps to fix your problem.
You should only get immigration assistance from registered migration agents. To be legally allowed to do this, they must be listed on the Register of Migration Agents, held by the Migration Agents Registration Authority. Search the Register before choosing one.
If you think your private education provider hasn't followed the rules or has treated you unfairly, you can complain to the OSO. They can talk to your provider and investigate, and they can ask them to fix your issue.
The RTBA holds all Victorian rental bonds. A bond is a security deposit that you pay when you move into a place to live. You get it back at the end of your lease if there is no damage to the property.
If a family member or someone you are in an intimate relationship with is hurting you or making you feel scared, sad or controlled, safesteps can help you with free 24/7 phone advice and specialist support services. They also provide online translated information in your language.
SMSC is a support service run by the Victorian Government for all international students in Victoria. You can get information, referral and practical support from them and they also have a place where you can study.
If you have a problem with where you live, Tenants Victoria can give you free telephone advice in your language. They also have free online information in English and other languages.
If you have a legal problem, you can read free legal information on the VLA website. They can also give you free legal advice on the phone in your language and sometimes give you ongoing help with your situation.
If you or someone around you is unsafe, if there is a serious emergency, or if someone has committed a crime, you can contact the police for help.
If you have a dispute with someone about things like goods and services or renting, or you are unhappy with a decision by a government agency, you might be able to take it to VCAT. If VCAT agrees with you, they can force the other person to fix the issue. You can check if VCAT cover your issue online in your language.
If you think your public education provider hasn't followed the rules or has treated you unfairly, you can complain to the Victorian Ombudsman. They'll talk to your provider and investigate, and they can ask them to fix your issue.