Australia To Tighten Immigration Law

Australia to tighten immigration law

The Economic Times (India)

NEW DELHI: If you thought a student visa to Australia was a sure passport to permanent residency, then think again. The Australian government is tightening immigration laws to prevent misuse by students and institutions.

From September 1, foreign students in Australia will be required to have competent English skills. This would mean, applicants for a general skilled migrant visa will be required to have English skills that would be needed for entry into an Australian university or high school.

They must also complete 12 months of work experience in the field in which they studied, working a minimum of 20 hours a week. Those who have applied for a general skilled migrant visa on or before August 31 will not be required to meet the new standards.

The move will discourage the current practice adopted by many foreign students to enroll for a course that is less expensive and demanding to qualify for a general skilled migrant visa such as cooking and hairdressing. There has been growing anecdotal evidence that private vocational colleges and some universities were becoming visa factories.

In effect, many foreign students studying in Australia in order to secure a residents visa rather than a vocation. Once granted permanent residency, only a minority worked in these occupations but they could enjoy the full benefits of Australias public education and social security systems.

Under the new system, foreign students who finish their courses will no longer be automatically entitled to apply for a general skilled migration visa, which is a stepping stone to permanent residency. However, experts say that foreign students will not be disadvantaged by the increase in the English language threshold.

The new system will mean that for the first time, the points test will reward applicants with strong English language skills. The focus on work skills will also help applicants find work in Australia in their nominated occupation.

It is not only students, all general skilled migrant visa applicants will require to have high school or grade 12 English language competence. At present, the English language requirement is at grade 12.

For foreign students, who fail to meet the new requirements for a permanent skilled visa, there is hope as well. They can apply for an 18 month skilled-graduate visa to build on their skills and work experience. This visa will have unrestricted work rights.