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L Visa / F visa question


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I'm planning to study at a private language school in Harbin, Bincai Chinese College. They are apparently able to provide the documents necessary to get an F visa, but in response to an email from me they said I should get an L visa myself, and then convert it once I was there. Will that be possible? Would it be better to try and get the forms to apply for an F visa while I'm still in Australia? And lastly, if I do go with an L visa to start with, am I actually allowed to attend classes while on an L visa? If it's relevant, I intend to study for at least 3 months.

Sorry to be one of those people who signs up to ask a question, but any help would be much appreciated :)

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Just to give an update, I applied for a tourist visa today in Brisbane. The process was very smooth: the (very polite and helpful) security guard had a look over my application forms to check it was all in order while I waited, it took about 20 minutes for my number to be called, then the person at the counter had a brief look over my forms, and told me to come back and collect my visa on Thursday. I didn't need flight information, hotel bookings or a detailed itinerary (I rang up and asked about that beforehand). Definitely not the terrifying bureaucratic ordeal I was afraid it might be.

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